As the 20th century automotive wizards that gave us the Impala and the Bel Air, the history of Chevrolet as a brand and business wasn’t always smooth sailing.
The Chevrolet brand we all know and love once wasn’t quite as revered, and was actually the cheapest of all of the General Motors subsidiaries. Although Chevrolet once came last behind Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick and of course, Cadillac, many of those former powerhouse brands have since been retired thanks to unsustainable production methods and sales figures. Ironically, it’s Chevrolet that still stands.
Formally known as the Chevrolet Division of General Motors, the “Chevy” brand as we know it was originally founded in 1911 by Louis Chevrolet, and none other than William C. Durant. For the uninitiated, Durant was actually the original founder of General Motors – that is, before he was unceremoniously ousted from the board. Durant went on to use the Chevrolet Motor Car Company to acquire a controlling stake in General Motors with a reverse merger, propelling himself back into the General Motors presidency in 1918. However, Durant was only “back in the driver’s seat” for one short year, before being ousted again in 1919.
The Chevrolet Secrets Unravelled
Marketed as “a car for every purse and purpose”, the Chevrolet brand went on to become the volume leader in the General Motors diverse family of automobile subsidiaries, selling mainstream vehicles designed to compete with the likes of the Ford Motor Company. The strategy worked, and Chevrolet went on to overtake Ford as America’s best selling car brand in 1929.
However, the road to success is often paved with failure, and Chevrolet as a brand certainly had its fair share of hiccups along the way. As an American automotive titan, the company also has some surprising secrets that modern day car lovers might not ever have been aware of – until now.
The Famous Bowtie – Legend has it that the iconic Chevrolet bowtie logo was inspired by a wallpaper design that Billy Durant saw in Paris. Although this tale sounds almost romantic, Mr Durant’s wife debunked this theory, and explained that he actually spotted the symbol in a newspaper whilst on vacation in Virginia in the United States.
It Took Two Years – They say good things come to those who wait, and this couldn’t be more relevant for both Chevrolet and the American public. The very first Chevrolet to be unveiled to the public was the Series C Classic Six, drawn up by Louis Chevrolet himself. However, it took two full years for this car to be released from when the company was initially established.
The World’s First SUV – Many classic car lovers are surprised when they learn that it was Chevrolet who first introduced the original SUV to the American marketplace. Known as the Suburban Carryall, the first model was released in 1935. As the longest running nameplate in the history of car models, it’s actually still in production today.
The Corvette Lives On – While it’s the Corvettes of the 1950’s and 1960’s that often make vintage car lovers go weak at the knees, the 2019 model is actually Chevrolet’s latest and fastest make in this series. For the first time it’s equipped with automatic transmission, and is said to reach up to 330 kilometres per hour at its peak.
Surprising Inspiration – While the 2006 Silverado Intimidator SS is one of the rarest cars ever produced by Chevrolet, the inspiration behind it often surprises people. Its creation was inspired by the death of a famous NASCAR driver known as Dale Earnhardt, who passed away in a car accident while racing in the 2001 Daytona 500 competition.
What “Camaro” Means – Over the years, the meaning behind the Camaro name has received much speculation. In French, the term means “friend” or “comrade”, but oddly enough, it also translates to “small shrimp” in Spanish. Chevrolet later debunked these theories, and described the term as “a small and vicious animal that devours Mustangs” – ouch.
Chevrolets have undoubtedly remained a cultural icon, and are one of the leading models for car lovers around the world to commemorate a bygone era. It should come as no surprise that as a brand, they still command adoration and respect from both classic and modern car lovers alike.
Finding a fellow vintage auto enthusiast can feel a bit like finding a needle in a haystack, but rest assured that Classic’s Garage understands the thrill more than most. Having spent forty years collecting anything and everything from matchbox cars to hub caps, he’s successfully followed his passion to source, collect and stock beautiful and low mileage classic automobiles from around the world.
With our showroom conveniently located at Seventeen Mile Rocks, if you would like to arrange a viewing or inspect any of our classic vehicles for sale, please get in touch with us today.