If General Motors' eight brands were children, Mike Jackson has a get-well prescription for the family: Feed the healthy brands - the brands that retain some resonance with American consumers.
"Chevy and Cadillac are the two anchor brands for General Motors," said the chief executive of AutoNation, America's top dealership group. "They should be first in line for all product and marketing dollars."
I asked Jackson whether GM should kill Pontiac and Buick, the so-called damaged brands. Jackson - who is nobody's fool - wouldn't touch that question.
So I will. GM should put Buick out of its misery. Buick has zero brand equity, and it's hard to justify the expenditure of precious cash on new products and advertising.
Yes, yes, yes, I know it's not that simple. Buick, Pontiac and GMC have 7,795 dealerships, and those retailers are trying to make a living. Moreover, GM must produce a certain volume of cars and trucks to subsidize the pensions and benefits of its growing cadre of retirees.
And yes, GM already has "dualed" the Buick, Pontiac and GMC brands together at about 800 dealerships.
That's a rational strategy, and it might have worked 10 years ago. But I'm not so sure it can work today. Consider this: In October, the average Buick dealership sold four cars and trucks. Four. In that same month, the typical Ferrari dealership sold three cars.
Could Chevrolet dealers market relatively upscale vehicles like the Buick LaCrosse, Lucerne or Enclave? Jackson didn't discuss specific nameplates, but he does believe Chevy dealers can go upscale.
"You can do a lot under the Chevy brand," Jackson told me. "America loves Chevrolet."
The bottom line: GM can offer rational reasons for keeping Buick and Pontiac alive, but those reasons have nothing to do with customers' preferences.
GM is making business decisions to keep its factories running, or to subsidize pensions, or to help out its dealers.
Any one of those priorities can be defended. But if you keep making decisions that subordinate the needs of your customers to the needs of the company, eventually you go out of business.
After talking business for an hour or so, Jackson indulged the gearhead within. We drifted over to the Mercedes stand and admired the car he plans to buy next - a voluptuous AMG S65.
He'll take a black one, if you please.
Jackson's yen for the German marque is understandable. Before joining AutoNation, he ran Mercedes' U.S. operations - very successfully, too.
"I got into this business turning wrenches for Mercedes," he said.
"Everyone who knows me accepts that. I need to go fast, and very fast is better than just fast. That car is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Look at those tailpipes. When you blow past a Porsche, they know something special has passed them."
As for GM, Jackson believes the company can get back into the passing lane, but only if it feeds its strongest brands.
That's good advice from a guy that sold about 700,000 cars and trucks last year.