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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 5:26 pm

Key events in the history of the Buick brand

By The Associated Press

General Motors Co.'s Buick brand unveiled updated versions of the LaCrosse and Regal sedans Tuesday ahead of the New York Auto Show. Here are some key dates in the history of Buick.

1899 - Scottish born David Buick starts Buick Auto-Vim and Power Co. in Detroit. He makes engines and prototype cars.

1903 - New owners who bail out David Buick sell the company, now called the Buick Motor Co, to the Flint Wagon Works. The company moves to Flint, Mich.

1904 - A Buick prototype makes a successful 120-mile roundtrip from Flint to Detroit over several days. Buick produces a total of 37 Model B Touring Cars.

1908 - Flint carriage maker William Durant, who is by now Buick's manager, forms General Motors. Buick is the company's only brand. Buick sells 8,820 cars in the 1908 model year, surpassing Ford and Cadillac. Durant establishes Buick as a mid-luxury brand after he buys up other brands, including Chevrolet and Cadillac.

1912 - The first Buicks are exported to China. The last emperor, Pu Yi, as well as China's first president, Sun Yat-sen, are driven in Buicks.

1923 - Buick builds its one millionth vehicle.

1951 - Buick debuts the LeSabre show car, the first model with airplane-inspired design elements like tail fins and a wraparound windshield. The LeSabre goes on sale in 1959.

1953 - For its 50th anniversary, Buick debuts the Buick Roadmaster Skylark Convertible for $5,000.

1963 - Buick Riviera goes on sale.

1973 - Buick Regal goes on sale.

1984 - Buick's U.S. sales peak at 942,000. The top selling model is the Century midsize car, with 217,042 sold.

1999 - GM begins building Buicks in China.

2002 - Buick debuts the Rendezvous SUV, its first truck-based vehicle since 1923.

2004 - Buick LaCrosse goes on sale.

2008 - Buick begins a brand overhaul with the debut of the luxurious Encore crossover, which helps it appeal to younger buyers. Buick sales in China overtake sales in the U.S.

2012 - Buick sells 180,000 vehicles in the U.S. and 700,000 in China.

Sources: General Motors, Ward's AutoInfoBank.