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Early History of Chevrolet Motor Company

William Durant first incorporated General Motors, then was kicked out of the company by his Board after he was unable to get financing to purchase Ford Motor Company in 1910. He incorporated the Chevrolet Motor Company in November 1911 as a comeback attempt to restore his name and reputation. Retired Buick race driver Louis Chevrolet gave his name to the company though he was never a corporate officer. Durant then bought the assets of the Flint Wagon Works, and used them to form the Little Motor Car Company.

Louis Chevrolet worked on luxury car designs while the Little Motor Car Company built cars priced to directly compete against Ford Motor Company. In 1912 Chevrolet released the large luxury Classic Six at a price of $2500, but the lower priced offerings were issued in 1914 as the Royal Mail roadster priced at $750 and the Baby Grand touring car priced from $875 to $1475. At that time Louis Chevrolet left the company to return to racing. Durant then produced the 1916 Four-Ninety priced at $490 to directly go after the Ford Model T.

Chevrolet now had factories in Flint and New York, and with help from the DuPont family and other investors, he started buying up GM stock and was able to successfully take over the company by September 1915. After years of economic downturns, Durant was finally ousted from GM for the last time by late 1920.

Other notable achievements and milestones for Chevrolet by the decades include:

1920s — In 1923 Chevrolet blundered with the introduction of Copper Cooled models using air-cooled engines. Only 759 are produced and barely 100 are sold. By the late 20s, Chevrolet hired custom coachbuilder Harley Earl to head GM’s Art and Color department, leading to Chevrolet becoming known for luxury and style. Near the end of the decade Chevrolet releases the Stovebolt Six motor with 194 cubic inch displacement and 46 horsepower.

1930s — The Suburban Carryall is released, Chevrolet’s first truck-based passenger wagon capable of carrying eight passengers.

1940s — Chevrolet develops a compact Cadet model, but shelves the idea based on Americans’ lack of interest in smaller cars.

1950s — The Powerglide is released as the first low-priced vehicle with a fully automatic transmission. The first Corvette is shown at a GM Motorama show in New York, with production started later that year. The first V-8 engine in nearly four decades is released in 1955. The Tri-Five Bel Air models later became some of the most valued cars by collectors. The Impala, Bel Air, and Biscayne models with revolutionary horizontal rear fins were introduced in 1959.

1960s — The unsuccessful Corvair is introduced in 1960 using an air-cooled rear flat-six engine. Chevrolet develops the Impala Super Sport to compete against Pontiac sport models. By 1965 Chevrolet has sold over one million Impalas, Bel Airs, and Biscaynes. 1967 brought the introduction of the Camaro to compete directly against Ford’s Mustang and Plymouth Barracuda.

1970s — Chevrolet’s unsuccessful Vega, Chevette, and Citation were introduced in the 70s, with the Citation issued as a 1980 model.

1980s — The Geo is introduced and the Nova, Sprint, and Spectrum are re-badged.

1990s — In 1997 the all new Corvette C5 is introduced, the Malibu returns, and Chevy trucks outsell their cars for the first time.

2000s — The Corvette Z06 offers a small-block 405 horsepower engine. The F-body Camaro ends production in 2002. A restyled Malibu is introduced in 2008. In 2009 the Corvette ZR1 with a 638 horsepower engine is introduced, and GM files for bankruptcy.

2010s — A new Camaro model is introduced. In 2011 the Cruze and electric Volt with extended range are introduced.

If you are a Chevrolet fan or looking for your first quality pre-owned Chevrolet car or truck, come to Car Stop Texas in Arlington and check out our extensive inventory. We also have a wide range of other vehicles for you to view at Car Stop Texas.

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