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NEW YORK - To shed its stodgy image, Buick will drop two venerable names - Park Avenue and LeSabre.

A premium rear-wheel-drive sedan will replace the Park Avenue in 2006, say two General Motors sources. GM plans to develop the rwd sedan off the company's new Zeta global vehicle architecture.

Meanwhile, GM will find a new name for the LeSabre's replacement when it arrives next year.

Robert Lutz, GM's vice chairman for product development, said he eventually wants to position Buick against Lexus. But GM can't charge higher prices until Buick's brand equity improves, he said at the New York auto show.

"We have to earn the brand equity back by offering a luxury car bargain," Lutz said.

The LeSabre was introduced in 1959. The Park Avenue became a distinct nameplate in 1991. It previously was a trim line on the Buick Electra.


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