Versatile Buick Rendezvous Embarks on a 4x4 Adventure Drive Through South America

FOR RELEASE: October 4, 2001

Versatile Buick Rendezvous Embarks on a 4x4 Adventure Drive Through South America

DETROIT -A 2002 Rendezvous, one of the first models of the innovative new crossover vehicle from Buick, is about to participate in one of the world's most aggressive and scenic driving events - the 15,000 mile, 55-day, "Inca Trail 4x4 Adventure Drive" in South America.

Rendezvous Brand Manager Jack Bowen said the Rendezvous was entered in the drive to emphasize Buick's entry into an entirely new market for the division - and to demonstrate Rendezvous' overall capability, versatility and durability.

Bowen has named Patrick Brooks to head the Buick driving team. Brooks is no stranger to adventure, having piloted a Buick in two previous world-renowned driving competitions. Joining Brooks will be Kevin Clemens, a freelance writer, who like Brooks drove around the world last year. Clemens will record Rendezvous' progress with reports posted on the Buick media site. The Rendezvous will be among about 50 four-wheel-drive vehicles to leave Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Oct. 6, 2001. They are scheduled to return to Rio on Nov. 29.

The route is spectacular. After the start from Copacabana Fort near Rio's Sugar Loaf Mountain, the vehicles will head into the Andes Mountains of Bolivia to the world's highest capital, La Paz, and will then be ferried across Lake Titicaca. The travelers will explore Cusco, the ancient capital of the Incas, and the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu, hidden until 1912.

They'll travel to Lima, Peru, and wind down hairpin turns in the mountains near Santiago, Chile. One highlight of the trip will be crossing the Straits of Magellan to the island of Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America, and on to Ushuaia, which is known as the southernmost city on Earth. They will travel up the eastern coast to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Montevideo, Uruguay, before arriving back in Rio. Those who successfully complete the route will win gold or silver medals.

Brooks and his wife, Mary, started their Buick adventures with their 1949 Buick Super "Woody" wagon in the 1997 "Peking to Paris Motor Challenge". In 2000, they completed the "Around the World in 80 Days Motor Challenge" in their '49 Buick wagon, arriving July 18 at London's Tower Bridge. Clemens also participated in that event in a 1959 Mercedes-Benz 220 S Sedan. That event was held to celebrate the new Millennium and billed as the first motor rally to circumnavigate the world, even surpassing the famous New York to Paris "great race" of 1908.

Buick's entry in the Inca Trail recalls an historic moment for Buick, which celebrates its centennial in 2003. According to Buick records, in 1914 a Buick dealer in Argentina named Johnson Martin claimed to be the first person to drive a car across South America when he took a 1912 Model 28 Buick from Buenos Aires over the Andes to Santiago, Chile.

Rendezvous, Buick's exciting new entry in the truck market, brings together an innovative combination of many of the best features of sport utility vehicles and premium sedans, with seven-person seating capacity. By participating in the Inca Trail, the Rendezvous will show that it is equally prepared for the daily drive to the office as well as a trip across the country.

Buick General Manager Roger W. Adams has described Rendezvous as "really the best of all worlds in terms of capability, security and comfort. With our reconfigurable interior, we believe this is the most capable vehicle in the utility market."

The Rendezvous navigating the Inca Trail will include the optional Versatrak "on-demand" all-wheel-drive system. Versatrak uses front drive under normal road conditions and adds torque to the rear wheels on slippery roads. Rendezvous may also be ordered as a front-wheel-drive model.

Rendezvous' 3.4-liter V-6 engine, attached to an electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission, generates 185 horsepower at 5200 rpm and 210 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm. It combines power with exceptionally good fuel economy (estimated EPA fuel economy numbers are 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway for the all-wheel drive version and 19 and 26 for the front-drive version).

Bowen is excited showcasing Rendezvous' abilities in the Inca Trail. "By combining the best features and design elements of today's SUVs and premium sedans, we've been able to create a vehicle with real comfort, all-road and all-weather driving security and flexible cargo versatility," he said.

The 2001 Inca Trail, which includes a classic reliability trail for vintage automobiles as well as the separate rally for modern 4x4s, is being organized by the Historic Endurance Rallying Organization (HERO) of Worcester, England.

The Inca Trail event was created by John Brown, HERO director, who was the route coordinator for the South American leg of the London-Mexico World Cup Rally of 1970. Brown was once described by the London Daily Telegraph as "motoring's answer to the Marquis de Sade" because of the tough rallies he has organized. The newspaper also described him as "the most meticulous organiser of rallies for old cars in the world".

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