After tinkering with the idea of building its large cars on a stretched mid-sized platform, General Motors decided the next-generation Pontiac Bonneville, Buick LeSabre and Oldsmobile Eighty Eight should have more in common with luxury cars.
Instead of using a stretched version of the 1997 Pontiac Grand Prix W platform, GM will adapt the G platform that was invented for the 1995 Oldsmobile Aurora and Buick Riviera.
The three popular large cars, which share the H platform, will get a major redesign for the 1999 model year and will switch to the G platform then. For the 1996 model year, they all get a facelift.
Even though the cars will use the luxurious G platform, they will probably be called H, to keep them separate. The cars will carry over many of their cheaper H-body parts.
When Jack Smith took over GM nearly three years ago, one of his first announced goals was to end platform proliferation by using fewer, flexible platforms that could be stretched and widened for different cars. The decision on the H bodies completes GM's platform consolidation plans for its large, luxury, front-wheel-drive cars.
AND THEN THERE WERE NINE
Now, GM builds 10 cars of similar size - Cadillacs, Buicks, Oldsmobiles and Pontiacs - from four platforms. The platform names are C, K, H and G. When the consolidation is finished, eight of those cars will be built on versions of the G platform. A ninth car, the Eldorado, will likely have the V platform, an import from Europe. The 10th, the Oldsmobile Ninety Eight, dies.
The C platform - Buick Park Avenue and Oldsmobile Ninety Eight - will be discontinued after the 1996 model year. The Park Avenue will become a G car for the 1997 model year.
The Park Avenue is Buick's most expensive sedan and can bear the higher price of the expensive G platform. The Ninety Eight doesn't fit the image Oldsmobile wants to create. But the H cars are vital. The LeSabre is Buick's best seller; the Bonneville is Pontiac's flagship, and the Eighty Eight is widely considered Oldsmobile's best car after the Aurora.
The Cadillac/Luxury Car Engineering and Manufacturing Division, which engineers all four large fwd platforms, didn't want to screw up a good thing in the name of consolidation. Engineers looked at the mid-sized W platform, which will debut in early 1997 as the Pontiac Grand Prix. But they decided they'd sacrifice too much interior volume and luxury cues they thought necessary if the next H cars were built on the W platform.
K CARS WILL MOVE TO G PLATFORM
The fate of Cadillac's K cars - Seville, Eldorado, DeVille and Concours - also has been decided.
The next-generation Seville, code-named S5S and due in the 1998 model year, will be based on a shortened Aurora/Riviera G-body platform.
The next-generation Cadillac DeVille and Concours, code-named S2S and due in the year 2000, also will be based on the G platform.
Cadillac believes future luxury coupes must be smaller and rear-drive, so the next Eldorado may be based on the Opel Omega's rwd V platform. That is the platform that will be used for the Cadillac LSE entry-luxury sedan that debuts in mid-1996.