The Chevrolet Motor Company was co-founded by racing driver Louis Chevrolet and General Motors founder William C. “Billy” Durant in Detroit on the 3rd of November 1911.
A seasoned automobile racer and highly respected self-taught engineer, Louis Chevrolet was born in Switzerland on Dec. 25, 1878 and moved to France with his family as a child. He immigrated to North America in 1900. By 1902, his younger brothers, Arthur and Gaston, had joined him. As early as 1905, Louis Chevrolet was winning notice as a fearless driver of the brutally primitive racing cars of the period. He became a member of William C. Durant’s famed Buick racing team in 1909. Working with a designer in a rented loft in Detroit during 1910, Louis Chevrolet began to lay out the plans for the prototype car that would bear his name.
The grandson of an early Michigan governor, William C. “Billy” Durant was born in 1861. By the 1890s, he was a highly successful manufacturer of horse-drawn carts that were distributed globally. Durant moved into auto manufacturing when business associates convinced him to manage the fledgling Buick Motor Co. late in 1904. Spectacular success at Buick gave him the wherewithal to found General Motors in 1908. Durant added Cadillac, Oldsmobile, Oakland and other brands to the GM roster, before a 1910 banking crisis forced him out.
Looking to build a new automobile after leaving GM, the irrepressible Billy Durant made a deal with Louis Chevrolet to produce the well-known racer’s dream car. And it wasn’t until 1912 when Louis Chevrolet’s $2,150 Series C “Classic Six”, a luxurious high-performance six-cylinder model officially hit the streets of Detroit.
In late 1913, Louis Chevrolet parted company with Billy Durant, leaving behind the rights to produce cars bearing his name. The Chevy bowtie logo, designed under Durant’s auspices, appeared for the first time in an ad before 1913 was out. The bowtie badge first appeared on Durant’s new, more moderately priced, Chevrolets for 1914.
Billy Durant had his eye on the value-priced market from the very start of his involvement with Louis Chevrolet and, in late 1915, introduced the Chevrolet 490 into the low-priced field. Its $490 list price made it a direct competitor to the Model T Ford of the time. During 1916, Durant leveraged the success of his Chevrolet car to regain control of General Motors.
In 1918, the first Chevrolet trucks were introduced; they were a light-duty model based on the Model 490 chassis and a heavy-duty 1-ton chassis. Commercial body builders provided bodies.
Chevrolet formally became part of General Motors Corporation in 1918, while the company was under the direction of founder Billy Durant for a second and final time.
In 1921, Billy Durant’s successor at General Motors, Pierre S. duPont, turned to future GM chairman Alfred P. Sloan to help him evaluate Chevrolet’s prospects. Ignoring naysayers who thought otherwise, Sloan’s research convinced him that Chevrolet could become a globally successful value-priced brand. William S. Knudsen was brought in to run Chevrolet in 1922 and immediately set out to introduce a much-improved Chevy. The result was the well-received Superior model of 1924. By this time, GM was assembling new Chevrolets at a new plant in Copenhagen, Denmark—the first of a number of plants GM would establish to build cars in the regions and countries where they were sold.
By the late 1920s, Chevrolet was a leading global brand, with assembly operations in numerous countries. General Motors India was established in 1928, and assembly of Chevrolet cars, trucks, and buses soon commenced at a new assembly plant on the outskirts of Bombay (now Mumbai). That same year, new Chevrolets began rolling out of a new GM assembly plant in Warsaw, Poland.
A century later after the founding of Chevrolet, the global automotive brand has produced a total of over 200 million cars and trucks combined. Out of which, over 180 million cars and trucks alone were produced in North America since 1912. In fact, a Chevrolet is sold every 7.5 seconds on average.
The Chevrolet Malaysia Centennial Celebration
Celebrating the rich and winning heritage of what Chevrolet is, Naza Quest Sdn Bhd – the Official Distributor of Chevrolet in Malaysia hosted the Chevrolet Malaysia Centennial Celebration at the MATRADE Exhibition and Convention Centre on 13th November 2011.
The Centennial Celebration features a unique walk down the Chevy heritage, a total of 10 classic Chevy cars ranging from the classical 1950 Chevrolet Bel Air, 1958 Impala and 1963 Sting Ray Coupe were available for public viewing during the celebratory event.
Signature Chevrolet cars such as the 2010 Camaro – first featured in the 2007 Transformers movie, the large Suburban SUV, Avalanche Sport Utility Truck and futuristic Chevrolet Volt were also displayed, allowing the public to get up close and personal with the global Chevrolet line-up.
Not forgetting the current offerings, the Captiva and Cruze models were also at hand and available for public test drives.
Datuk Wira SM Faisal, Joint Group Executive Chairman NAZA Group said “The Chevrolet Malaysia Centennial Celebration glorify the richness and proud heritage that Chevrolet has carried for 100 years. With products that are performance oriented, carrying inspiring designs and versatile offerings from cars to trucks, we are proud that we are able to showcase what Chevrolet is all about. Past, Present and Future.”
Part of the Chevrolet Malaysia’s Centennial Celebration, Naza Quest Sdn. Bhd. also held a Centennial Celebration Treasure Hunt and also an Online Slogan Contest where Chevrolet owners of all models and the public participated during the period of the celebration.
“The Centennial Celebration and unique showcase gives us the great opportunity to get closer to the public, allowing Chevrolet and everyone to have a better understanding of each other.” Datuk Wira SM Faisal further added.
With the Chevrolet Malaysia Centennial Celebration, NAZA Quest Sdn. Bhd. vows in continuing the commitment and effort towards the development of the Chevrolet brand and also the existing and future customers.