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Jack Maxton News - Chevy Runs Deep, for the first 100 years and into the next
Design has been a cornerstone of Chevrolet and many of its models have become icons of American culture. The soaring fins of the 1957 Chevy Bel Air epitomized the optimism of the Jet Age, while the sleek 1963 Corvette Stingray is regarded by many automotive historians as one of the best-looking cars ever designed.
Other Chevrolet models’ designs had cultural impacts that resonated for decades. The Camaro, introduced in 1967, brought great design and affordable performance, to younger customers. The heritage-inspired design of the fifth-generation model, introduced for 2010, quickly became the best seller among its primary competitors.
In the truck world, Chevrolet design innovations helped drive changes and create new markets in the industry. The Suburban was introduced in 1935 and continues as the longest-running automotive nameplate in industry history. Its concept of delivering greater passenger and cargo capacity has remained true for 76 years.
In 1955, the special-edition Chevrolet Cameo Carrier introduced smooth rear fenders for the first time to a mainstream pickup. The styling gave the truck a flowing, upscale appearance that differed greatly from the traditional “step side” design of other contemporary trucks. Within a few years, the entire industry was transformed. The smooth cargo bed sides, which became known as “fleetside” styling, were found on every truck on the market.
The early years
Swiss-born Louis Chevrolet (1878-1941) was a racer, mechanic and pioneering engineer. William C. “Billy” Durant (1861-1947) was a visionary automotive marketer. Durant founded General Motors in 1908, as Chevrolet’s reputation as daring driver — he established a land-speed record in 1905, attaining 111 mph in special open race car — continued to grow. Durant hired Chevrolet for high-profile races and promotional drives.
In 1910, Durant was forced from the company he founded, but wouldn’t be deterred from the burgeoning auto industry. He regrouped with other partners, including Chevrolet, to develop a new car. Durant believed Chevrolet’s reputation as a racer would help sell the car, so it was named for him. The Chevrolet company was founded in 1911 and its first car, the Series C Classic Six, was a large, finely crafted motorcar. Its large, 4.9L (299 cubic inches) six-cylinder engine produced 40 horsepower and enabled a top speed of about 65 mph. It sold for $2,150 or the equivalent of nearly $50,000 today, when adjusted for inflation.
Despite its high price, the Chevrolet was well regarded for its style, precision and comfort. Durant was also producing a smaller, more affordable car called the Little. Sales of both were strong, but Durant recognized the strength of the entry-level field and steered his company in that direction. The Chevrolet Series C and the Little were produced through 1913. In 1914, the basic Little platform was remade as the Chevrolet Model L and later that year, the Model H was introduced.
The refocused Chevrolet line was immediately successful, thanks to a value-driven price and a tough four-cylinder engine the proved very durable. Despite the company’s early success, Durant and Chevrolet differed on the philosophy of the company’s products. The gulf between them resulted in Durant buying out Chevrolet’s interest in the company in 1915. Customers ultimately validated Durant’s vision and Chevrolet sales continued to grow. The success enabled Durant to buy a controlling interest in General Motors in 1916. By 1917, Durant was back at the helm of GM with Chevrolet as a division.
Durant left General Motors in 1920. He established another car company and became a prominent Wall Street investor. The stock market crash of 1929 proved fatal for both endeavors. He was bankrupt by 1936. He died in 1947 and was buried at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx, New York.
Louis Chevrolet also lost his fortune during the Great Depression. He returned to his vocational skills and worked as a mechanic at a Chevrolet factory in Detroit. He died in 1941 and was buried in Indianapolis, near the famous speedway where he forged his reputation as a fearless racer and innovator.
Jack Maxton Chevrolet was honored to Celebrate Chevy's 100th Birthday on November 3, 2011! We had hotdogs, lemonade, free car inspections, lottery tickets to give and an iPad to raffle off.
This is Paula, she was very excited to win the iPad!