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January 7, 1985 – Saturn is founded
This Day

January 7, 1985 – Saturn is founded

First generation Saturn S-Series The automotive history of Saturn cars started as a code name for what was to be a new small car that would fall under one of General Motors' existing brands in the mid 1980s. Chevrolet, Oldsmobile and Pontiac all received consideration when discussions of the new car started in June of 1982. At the time, domestic automakers came under pressure to build more efficient compacts to compete with imports. GM Chairman Roger Smith publicized the plan to produce a new vehicle in November of '83, promising something different. Just more than a year later, on this day in automotive history in 1985, GM officially founded Saturn Corporation. That small car became it's own company. A concept car soon followed. While the idea to release the vehicle under an exist...
December 20, 1989 – Roger & Me Debuts
This Day

December 20, 1989 – Roger & Me Debuts

Michael Moore Amid record profits in the 1980s, a series of decisions approved by General Motors CEO Roger Smith led to the closing of several GM plants in Flint, Michigan. Smith intended to take advantage of cheap labor in Mexico. Michael Moore documented the shuttering of the plants, starting in 1986, in his film Roger & Me, which debuted on this day in 1989. It chronicled the impact of General Motors leaving the Flint community, which left 30,000 people suddenly unemployed. Ultimately, Moore wished to bring Smith to Flint to show him how his actions affected people GM previously employed. Throughout the film, Moore, originally from Flint, speaks with assembly workers and residents, many of whom share a strong disdain for Smith. He also connects with GM executives and cel...
November 3, 1911 – Chevrolet is founded
This Day

November 3, 1911 – Chevrolet is founded

1912 Chevrolet Classic Six. By Trainguy1 CC BY-SA 3.0 William Durant and Louis Chevrolet officially found the Chevrolet Motor Company on this day in 1911. Those also involved with the creation of the company include William Little, James Whiting and Louis' brother Arthur Chevrolet. The following year the Chevrolet Classic Six started rolling our of the their Flint, Michigan factory, priced at a whopping $2,500 each. In the early years, Durant and Chevrolet disagreed about the types of vehicles the brand should make, sporty cars versus luxury cars. This argument pushed Louis to sell his share of the company in 1914 to return to racing. That same year Chevrolet began production of the Royal Mail roadster that sold for a more reasonable $750. They also offered the Baby Grand touring car w...
October 2, 1912 – GM & Ford executive Bunkie Knudsen is born
This Day

October 2, 1912 – GM & Ford executive Bunkie Knudsen is born

Bunkie Knudsen with new Chevrolet On this day in 1912 future auto industry executive Semon Knudsen was born to William Knudsen, who himself would later become president of General Motors (1937-1940). His father gave him the nickname Bunkie, referring to the WWI term for bunk mate. They pair had a special bond, and the elder Knudsen knew how to play into his son's interests. When at age 14 Bunkie asked for a new car, his father gave him all of the pieces to a brand new 1927 Chevrolet. Bunkie went to work assembling the car by hand, a process that cemented an interest in automobiles. Like father, like son, he would go on to become a successful executive in the industry. His automotive career began after earning an engineering degree from MIT and then taking a low level position at Pontia...
October 1, 1908 – GM buys Buick, Ford builds first production Model T
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October 1, 1908 – GM buys Buick, Ford builds first production Model T

October 1, 1908 was a big day in the growing automotive industry. Up in Flint, Michigan, William Durant had recently formed General Motors, intending it be a holding company for various automotive interests. On this day in 1908 his new company acquired its first property, Buick, though it was more or less a transfer from current owner Durant to GM. On the same day, about 70 miles southeast of Flint, in the booming town of Detroit, the Ford Motor Company manufactured its first production Model T. The world changed forever. William Durant Henry Ford A month after Buick moved under the GM umbrella, Durant acquired Oldsmobile. In 1909 he'd snap up several more, including Cadillac, Oakland (to become Pontiac), Rapid Motor Vehicle Company (to become GMC), Reliance Motor Truck Compa...
September 17, 1909 – GM executive Ed Cole is born
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September 17, 1909 – GM executive Ed Cole is born

On this day in 1909, General Motors executive Ed Cole was born in Marne, Michigan. The son of a dairy farmer, Cole spent his youth designing, building and selling homemade radios. Later he went to work as a field representative for a tractor manufacturing company. His first job in the auto industry saw him manning the counter at an auto parts store, which he did while attending Grand Rapids Community College. He’d later enroll in the General Motors Institute (now Kettering University in Flint, MI), where he pursued an education in engineering. The GM leadership saw the potential in Cole and decided it best to keep him around after graduation. His consistent quality output at GM led him to being assigned co-head of development, alongside Henry Barr, for the 1949 Cadillac V8 engine. ...
September 16, 1908 – The birth of General Motors
This Day

September 16, 1908 – The birth of General Motors

Buick Motor Car company owner William C. Durant leveraged an engine supply deal with McLaughlin Motor Car Company of Canada to found General Motors on this day in 1908. In the beginning, the Detroit headquartered GM , which positioned it self as an automotive holding company, had only Buick, under its umbrella. Within a decade it would acquire more than twenty companies. Above: A woman driving a 1910 Buick. Top: William Durant with Chevrolet 490 Durant would acquire Oldsmobile later in 1908, bringing GM’s holdings to two. The next year, GM purchased Cadillac, Cartercar, Elmore, Ewing, Oakland, Reliance Motor Truck Company and Rapid Motor Vehicle Company. The latter two being the predecessors to GMC. That same year, Durant initiated an attempt to purchase Ford Motor Company for...
May 24, 2010 – Hummer shuts down
This Day

May 24, 2010 – Hummer shuts down

On this day in 2010, rugged off-road and military automaker Hummer went defunct. The origins of the civilian Hummer can be traced to 1979 when the US Army put out word that they were seeking a “High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle,” or HMMWV. AM General designed a vehicle that met the Army’s requirements and was the first automaker to deliver a prototype. The first production style HMMWVs were delivered to the Army’s proving grounds in April 1982. Testing of the vehicle led to the Army awarding AM General with a contract to build 55,000 of the vehicles by 1985. The monetary value of the contract was $1.2 billion. Above: A High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled VehicleTop: Hummer H3 By the 1980s, AM General, in part thanks to a pushy Arnold Schwarzenegger, had planned on sellin...
May 2, 1918 – General Motors buys Chevrolet
This Day

May 2, 1918 – General Motors buys Chevrolet

On this day in 1918 General Motors (GM) purchased the Chevrolet Motor Company. In a bit of irony, William C. Durant, founder of Chevrolet, had also founded GM several years earlier, but was kicked to the curb when profits began to fall. Stockholders of GM blamed the issue on Durant and forced him out of the company in 1910. By the end of the next year Durant had teamed up with auto racer Louis Chevrolet to form the Chevrolet Motor Company. Above: 1912 Chevrolet Classic Six. By Trainguy1 CC BY-SA 3.0Top: 1918 Chevrolet, from the year of the sale The company was officially formed on November 3,1911 and by the end of the first prototypes were complete. They created the subsidiary Little to sell lower priced cars as Louis Chevrolet experimented with luxury vehicles for the Chevrolet...
April 21, 1967 – GM produces its 100,000,000th vehicle
This Day

April 21, 1967 – GM produces its 100,000,000th vehicle

Janesville, Wisconsin earned its place in automotive history on this day in 1967 when a 1967 Nantucket Blue Chevrolet Caprice Custom Coupe rolled off an assembly line there, becoming the 100,000,000th General Motors vehicle ever produced. This Caprice, which retailed for $3,078 and had a 395 ci V8 engine that put out 275 horsepower, marked a milestone no other car company had achieved to this date. Interestingly, GM had made this claim once previously, more on that in a moment. The Caprice was an interesting choice for GM to mark this incredible feat with. They could have gone with any number of more exciting vehicles, such as the Corvette, Camaro or Chevelle from Chevrolet, the Firebird from Pontiac, the Toronado from Oldsmobile (which unexplainably was featured in a photo a...

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