Tag: gm

September 10, 1970 – Chevrolet Vega goes on sale
This Day

September 10, 1970 – Chevrolet Vega goes on sale

On this day in 1970, dealerships began selling the 1971 Chevrolet Vega. The subcompact commuter, which won Motor Trend's Car of the Year award for 1971, was developed under chief engineer Ed Cole and chief stylist Bill Mitchell. In the years following its introduction, various issues with engineering, safety and reliability were discovered. The media blamed Chevrolet's rush to get the car to market for the numerous issues, as development took less than two years. Many believe insufficient testing occurred during that period to warrant sending the vehicle to market. This ultimately left it up to customers to discover its flaws. Above: The Vega was designed to be shipped vertically in a train car. Top: 1971 Chevrolet Vega The Chevrolet Vega came as a coupe, notchback, wagon and pa...
July 30, 1898 – The first printed automobile advertisement
This Day

July 30, 1898 – The first printed automobile advertisement

The original Winton automobile ad A new edition of Scientific American landed on newstands on this day in 1898, and within its pages one could find the very first magazine advertisement for an automobile. Cleveland, Ohio, based Winton Motor Carriage Company ran the ad, which asked readers to “Dispense with a horse and save the expense, care and anxiety of keeping it. To run a motor carriage costs about ½ cent a mile.”  1898 Winton Alexander Winton, like many bicycle makers at the time, began experimenting with single-cylinder engines in 1896. He was soon manufacturing motors suitable for powering horseless carriages, leading him to incorporate his new car company the following year on March 15. The first Winton vehicles were hand assembled and included padded seating, a leather r...
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 bra...
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 annou...
April 8, 1916 – Auto racing pioneer Bob Burman dies
This Day

April 8, 1916 – Auto racing pioneer Bob Burman dies

Bob Burman participated in many significant races in the early 20th century, including winning the Prest-O-Lite Trophy Race in 1909 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the precursor to the Indy 500. Unfortunately, it was racing that would kill him. Burman died racing on this day in 1916 at age 31 when he crashed his open-cockpit Peugeot in Corona, California. The wreck also took the life of his riding mechanic, Erick Schrader, an on-duty policeman, and the lives of three spectators. Another five fans suffered serious injuries. Above: Bob BurmanTop: Louis Chevrolet & Bob Burman in the Buick Bugs of 1910 Burman’s career was quite successful, including spending several years with the Buick team starting in circa 1908. This team, which included Louis Chevrolet, went on to win half of al...
April 2, 1956 – Alfred P. Sloan, GM chairman, retires
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April 2, 1956 – Alfred P. Sloan, GM chairman, retires

Alfred P. Sloan proved that even MIT graduates have a hard time finding work. After receiving his diploma in 1895, Sloan entered what he described as the most discouraging period of his life. That era ended with a job as a draftsman at Hyatt Roller Bearing Company. In 1899, after his father bought the company, he became general manager. In that position he recognized the company's potential role in the emerging automotive industry and pushed to build products for it. Hyatt finally landed its first automotive client, Oldsmobile, in 1916. Not long after, Hyatt merged with several other companies to become United Motors Company, which General Motors acquired by 1920. Following the sale of UMC to GM, Sloan earned the title of vice president of operations. From there, he would climb the ladder...
January 20, 1909 – GM buys into Oakland, later becomes Pontiac
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January 20, 1909 – GM buys into Oakland, later becomes Pontiac

After just one year of production, Oakland Motor Car Company principal founder Edward Murphy sold half the company to General Motors on this day in 1909. General Motors had been founded just four months prior, and already had a stake in Buick and Oldsmobile. When Murphy died the following summer, GM founder William Durant made sure his new company acquired the rest of Oakland's stock. Oakland became GM's entry level car, where it competed with the Ford Model T. Sales were modest for the Oakland division, but the introduction of a V8 in 1916 pushed sales to about 35,000 for the year. When GM acquired Chevrolet in 1917, a company also co-founded by Durant, Oakland moved up a slot on the price ladder. Though it sat above Chevy, GM had a long list of makes to place above it. In the early ...
January 7, 1985 – Saturn is founded
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January 7, 1985 – Saturn is founded

Saturn started as a codename for a new small car from General Motors in the mid 1980s, but ended up becoming a car brand all its own. In June of 1982 discussions of a new compact were heating up at GM and the idea was first publicized by Chairman Roger B. Smith in November of the following year. Just more than a year later, on this day in 1985, GM officially founded Saturn Corporation. A concept car soon followed. At the time, GM planned to release the vehicle under one of its other brands, likely Chevrolet, Oldsmobile or Pontiac. That idea didn’t last, but the cars did a new marque formed. Following retooling of the Spring Hill, Tennessee assembly plant, the new car went into production. From there, the Saturn SC and Saturn SL started rolling off the line in 1990 for the 1991 model ye...
January 3, 1926 – Pontiac debuts
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January 3, 1926 – Pontiac debuts

On this day in 1926 General Motors officially introduced Pontiac at the New York Auto Show, a companion brand to their modestly priced Oakland line. Soon after Pontiac sales began, the brand far outsold its partner. The increasing sales figures led GM to shut down Oakland in 1932 and focus on the new car. Pontiac thus became the only automotive companion marque to survive its parent company.  By 1928 Pontiac was the United State's top-selling six cylinder car, with just shy of 77,000 Pontiac Chiefs sold within its first year of production. Even as the Great Depression took hold, Pontiac thrived as the cheapest available straight 8 car available in 1933. The brand saw continued growth up until the beginning of WWII, when civilian auto manufacturing ground to a halt. Above: 1964 Ponti...
December 24, 1961 – The birth of the Split Window Corvette
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December 24, 1961 – The birth of the Split Window Corvette

Automobile designer Bill Mitchell received quite the Christmas gift from General Motors on this day in 1961 when two of his designs were selected for production. His sketches for the 1963 Buick Riviera and the split-window 1963 Chevrolet Corvette would become a reality. The latter, of course, would become iconic in the automotive world. However, this wasn’t the first time, nor the last, that Mitchell would create something so memorable. Front view of 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Mitchell’s career in the auto industry started as an advertising illustrator for the Automobile Racing Club of America. After being recruited by Harley Earl to join the Art and Colour Section of General Motors in 1935, Mitchell found himself right at home at the design table. At GM, he designed some of the most w...