It's reported to be the only example in existence.
Buick's current lineup may comprise several crossover offerings like the Enclave, but it was a different story two decades ago. Land yachts like the venerable Park Avenue and LaSabre were popular with the blue-rinse brigade, who valued a cushy ride and a large interior.
Around the same time, it appears the automaker was working on something completely different - a frill-free compact hatchback for the masses. Offered for sale by Mecum Auctions, this dreadful Buick Hatchback concept is reported to be the only example in existence and has been in storage for nearly 20 years.
As per the listing, three prototypes were made. The two Chevrolet-badged models are thought to have been destroyed, making this one unique motorcar.
It's not a very attractive car and seems to be a mishmash of various other designs. The front end was inspired by the brilliant Audi A2, but there are also hints of the Ford Fusion (the European crossover) in the design. The doe-eyed sadness seen here is also present in the Enclave SUV of the era.
The side profile lacks character or stand-out features, except for the old-fashioned gas cap sans filler flap. Round back, there's more European influence to explore. The tailgate shape is reminiscent of contemporary Volkswagen products, such as the Golf 4, and the tiny Lupo city car. Overall, it's not what we'd call attractive - the hospital beige paintwork doesn't help, either.
Under the stubby hood, you'll find a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that's mated to a five-speed manual. Power outputs are unknown, but we're guessing it won't wow anyone. The motor is barely run-in, though, as Mecum points out the prototype has covered a mere 239 km (148 miles) over its 20-year lifespan.
And because it's not approved for use on US roads, we're guessing that mileage will remain low. So, how do we know this is a Buick? There's no exterior badging, after all. Look closely, however, and you'll note the Buick logo in the engine bay and the vehicle key.
The interior is typical of GM products of the early 2000s. Nasty, cheap plastic abounds and covers just about every cabin surface.
It's a symphony of grey inside and, save for air-conditioning, it's a rather spartan and depressing affair. It's clear to see this prototype was destined to be cheap transport, with manually-operated windows, an oh-so '80s cassette player, and the lack of a passenger-side airbag.
We've been rather cruel to the baby Buick but, we must admit, it deserves a spot in a car museum or historical collection. It's remarkable to think that Buick was considering a budget vehicle, especially one that looks like this. We're glad that one has survived; it will serve as the automaker's reminder of what not to do as it enters the electric era.