Tag Archives: General Motors

GM Cars of the Future: Firebird

The General Motors Firebird is a trio of prototype cars designed by Harley Earl, and engineered by General Motors for the 1953, 1956 and 1959 Motorama auto shows. They were very much inspired by innovations in fighter aircraft design at the time. None of the designs were intended for production, but instead were to showcase the extremes in technology and design that General Motors was able to achieve. The cars were recently placed on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, and still make regular car show appearances.

The name “Firebird” was also used by the Pontiac division of General Motors for the line of pony cars, which has no direct relation to the concept cars.

 

Firebirds

Two of the three GM firebird concept cars, 1956 and 1959

 

 

General Motors had done research on feasibility of gas turbine engines in cars as early as the 1930s. It wasn’t until the early 1950s that they began building an actual engine, with Emmett Conklin leading the project. The top speed of all 4 of them are 200 MPH.

General Motors Firebird 1

Firebird I
By 1953, the research team had produced the Firebird XP-21, later referred to as the Firebird I, which was essentially a jet airplane on wheels. It was the first gas turbine powered car tested in the United States. The design is entirely impractical, with a bubble topped canopy over a single seat cockpit, a bullet shaped fuselage made entirely of fiberglass, short wings, and a vertical tail fin.[2] It has a 370 hp (280 kW) Whirlfire Turbo Power gas turbine engine, which has two speeds, and expels jet exhaust at some 1,250 °F (677 °C). The entire weight of the car is 2,500 lb (1,134 kg) and had a 100 inch wheelbase.

At first, Conklin was the only person qualified to drive it, and he tested it up to 100 mph (160 km/h), but upon shifting into second gear the tires lost traction under the extreme engine torque and he immediately slowed down for fear of crashing. The car was later test driven at the Indianapolis Speedway by race car driver Mauri Rose. The car was never actually intended to test the power or speed potential of the gas turbine, but merely the practical feasibility of its use. The braking system differs from standard drum systems, in that the drums are on the outside of the wheels to facilitate fast cooling, and the wings actually have aircraft style flaps for slowing from high speed.

 

General Motors Firebird II

A miniature version of the Firebird I crowns the Harley J. Earl Trophy, given to the winner of the Daytona 500.

 

Firebird II
The second concept car, the Firebird II in 1956, was a more practical design: a four-seat, family car. It is a low and wide design with two large air intakes at the front, a high bubble canopy top, and a vertical tail fin. Its exterior bodywork was made entirely of titanium (which turned out to be hard to make).[4] The engine output was 200 hp (150 kW), and to solve the exhaust heat problem it was fed through a regenerative system,[4] which allowed the entire engine to operate at nearly 1,000 °F (538 °C) cooler, and also power the accessories. Kerosene was the most common fuel used.[4] Another innovation on the car was the first use of four wheel disc brakes, with a fully independent suspension, as well as a sophisticated guidance system which was intended to be used with “the highway of the future”, where an electrical wire would be embedded into a roadway to send signals that would help guide future cars[5] and avoid accidents.

Specifications

Wheelbase = 120 in (3,048 mm) [6]
Length = 234.7 in (5,961 mm) [6]
Ground clearance = 5.5 in (140 mm)

Firebird III

Firebird III

Firebird III on display at the Century 21 Exposition, Seattle, 1962.
The third design, the Firebird III, was built in 1958 and first shown at Motorama in 1959. It is another extravagant concept with titanium skin, and no fewer than seven short wings and tail fins that were tested extensively in a wind tunnel. It is a two-seater powered by a 225 hp (168 kW) Whirlfire GT-305 gas turbine engine, and a two cylinder 10 hp (7.5 kW) gasoline engine to run all the accessories. Its exterior design features a double bubble canopy, and more technical advancements to make it more practical, such as cruise control, anti-lock brakes, and air conditioning. It also featured “space-age” innovations, such as special air drag brakes, like those found on aircraft, which emerged from flat panels in the bodywork of the car to slow it from high speeds, an “ultra-sonic” key which signaled the doors to open, and an automated guidance system to avoid accidents and “no hold” steering. The steering was controlled by a joystick positioned between the two seats. This gave the car a more futuristic feel and simulated the experience of flying a plane.

Specifications

Wheelbase = 119 in (3,023 mm) [8]
Length = 248.2 in (6,304 mm)
Height = 44.8 in (1,138 mm) (canopy top)[8]
Ground clearance = 5.3 in (135 mm)

 

Firebird IV Ext. 6
Firebird IV (XP-790)
The Firebird IV debuted at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, it was displayed in three variants Firebird IV Runabout and Stiletto.

The Firebird IV, another sleek, turbine-powered car with strong aircraft styling cues.

The Runabout 3-wheeled concept car by GM is the “Runabout”. The vehicle had a front wheel that could turn 180 degrees to allow parking in the tightest of spots and the rear end of the car contained two detachable shopping trolleys with wheels that would fold away when the trolley was parked in the vehicle. The Runabout had space for 2 adults in the front and 3 children in the rear.

The GM-X Stiletto was an advanced, high-performance car with styling strongly influenced by aerospace design. It featured aircraft-type steering, a maintenance monitoring system with toggle switch controls, and a three-way speaker system for inside/outside communications.[10] In 1969 the GM-X Stiletto got a nose job, some new paint and was renamed as the Pontiac Cirrus.

These vehicles were first presented at the General Motors Futurama Exhibit in 1964 at the New York World’s Fair.

Motorama theme (1956)

The 1956 motorama movie projected a future contrasted with the present; in the present (1956), a nuclear family of hot and perspiring convertible occupants are attempting to travel to the beach – but they are stuck, immobile, in an insufferable freeway traffic jam. In a flashforward to the future, they are cruising at high speed in air conditioned comfort along an automated freeway (with no other vehicles to be seen) in their turbine-powered Firebird. The concept (now over fifty years old) was that this future was not unreasonably remote, and would be provided by General Motors, yet is consistent with current projections (2008) for future automotive travel using electronic vehicle control and improved highway infrastructure.

Reference


Wikipedia. General Motors Firebird. (2014)  Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_Firebird

 

Transitioning soldiers equipped to become GM automotive technicians

 

  • Unique training provided on-base at Fort Hood; next class underway
  • 12-week course includes classroom, online and hands-on training
  • Participants also receive career counseling, job placement services

FORT HOOD, Texas — The U.S. Army, General Motors (NYSE: GM) and Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) hosted a graduation ceremony Tuesday for the first Shifting Gears: Automotive Technician Training Program class.

 

General Motors: Shifting Gears Program

 

Created from a multi-year partnership between the two companies and the Army, the 12-week, on-base program empowers transitioning soldiers with the skills required to secure careers as service technicians nationwide at GM dealerships nationwide.

Twenty-three soldiers received their certification as GM technicians during the ceremony. Shifting Gears equips soldiers with technical expertise and experiential training, building on core Army disciplines to provide students with invaluable self-management and problem-solving skills.

Shifting Gears is part of the Army’s Soldier for Life support program, helping soldiers reintegrate into their communities after leaving the Army. Upon successful course completion and program graduation, veterans receive career counseling, job-placement recommendations and employment assistance from Army Soldier for Life centers, and access to available GM technician employment opportunities through GM’s authorized dealer network.

“GM has supported our nation’s military for more than 100 years. Along with our thousands of employees who have served in the military, we’re eager to provide opportunity and advocate for these transitioning soldiers,” said GM Global Chief Diversity Officer Ken Barrett. “They offer such skill, ability and experience – and they’re going to be valued employees for our dealer partners.”

About General Motors

General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world’s largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM, its subsidiaries and joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at http://www.gm.com

About GM Military Support

With thousands of military veteran employees, General Motors’ support for the United States armed forces spans generations. Today, Chevrolet assists Cell Phones for Soldiers, Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans, a variety of employment and grassroots initiatives, and is the Official Vehicle of the Army-Navy game. The GM Military Discount program offers discounts on most Chevrolet, Buick and GMC vehicles for active duty, reserves, retirees, veterans (within one year of separation) and spouses of the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and National Guard. GM proudly participates in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative aimed at finding meaningful employment for veterans transitioning to civilian life.


Resource:  

General Motors News. (2014)  First ‘Shifting Gears’ Technician Training Class Graduates: Transitioning soldiers equipped to become GM automotive technicians.  Retrieved 11/4/2014 from: http://media.gm.com/media/us/en/gm/news.detail.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2014/Oct/1028-shifting-gears.html

General Motors History & Film Clips

History of General Motors

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia*


220px-Detroit_Renaissance-Center

The Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan, is the world headquarters of General Motors.

The history of General Motors (GM), one of the world’s largest car and truck manufacturers, reaches back more than a century and involves a vast scope of industrial activity around the world, mostly focused on motorized transportation and the engineering and manufacturing that make it possible. Founded in 1908 as a Holding Company for McLaughlin and Buick Stocks and allied in 1919, in Flint, Michigan, as of 2012 it employs approximately 202,000 people around the world. With global headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan, United States, GM manufactures its cars and trucks in 35 countries.

In 2008, 8.35 million GM cars and trucks were sold globally under various brands. The GM automotive brands today are Vauxhall, Daewoo, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet (including the Corvette—nominally a Chevrolet Division product), GMC, Holden, Opel, and Wuling. Former GM automotive brands include McLaughlin, Oakland, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Hummer, Saab, and Saturn.

In addition to these brands selling assembled vehicles, GM also has had various automotive-component and non-automotive brands, many of which it divested in the 1980s through 2000s. These have included Euclid and Terex (earthmoving/construction/mining equipment & vehicles); Electro-Motive Diesel (locomotive, marine, and industrial diesel engines); Detroit Diesel (automotive and industrial diesel engines); Allison (transmissions, gas turbine engines); Frigidaire (refrigeration and air conditioning); New Departure (bearings); Delco Electronics and ACDelco (electrical and electronic components); GMAC (finance); General Aviation and North American Aviation (airplanes); GM Defense (military vehicles) and Electronic Data Systems (information technology). In short, there are few, if any, industrial sectors or categories in which GM did not play a major role in the Twentieth century, worldwide.

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GM’s headquarters from 1923 until 1996, a National Historic Landmark, is now Cadillac Place state office building.

General Motors was founded by William C. Durant on September 16, 1908 as a holding company after a 15 year contract with the McLaughlin’s of Canada. Initially, GM held only the Buick Motor Company, but it rapidly acquired more than twenty companies including Oldsmobile, Cadillac, and Oakland, now known as Pontiac. Durant signed a 15-year contract in Canada with the exchange of 500,000 shares of Buick stock for 500,000 shares of McLaughlin Stock. Dr. Campbell, Durant’s son-in-law, put 1,000,000 shares on the stock market in Chicago Buick (then controlled by Durant).

Durant’s company, the Durant-Dort Carriage Company, had been in business in Flint since 1886, and by 1900, was producing over 100,000 carriages a year in factories located in Michigan and Canada. Prior to his acquisition of Buick, Durant had several Ford dealerships. With springs, axles and other key components being provided to the early automotive industry by Durant-Dort, it can be reasoned that GM actually began with the founding of Durant-Dort.

Durant acquired Oldsmobile later in 1908. The next year, he brought in Cadillac, Cartercar, Elmore, Ewing, and Oakland (later known as Pontiac). In 1909, General Motors also acquired the Reliance Motor Truck Company of Owosso, Michigan, and the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company of Pontiac, Michigan, the predecessors of GMC Truck. A Rapid became the first truck to conquer Pikes Peak in 1909. In 1910, Welch and Rainier were added to the ever-growing list of companies controlled by GM. Durant lost control of GM in 1910 to a bankers trust as the deal to buy Ford for $8,000,000.00 fell through, due to the large amount of debt (around $1 million) taken on in its acquisitions R S McLaughlin Director and friend left at the same time.

Durant left the firm and co-founded the Chevrolet Motor Company in 1911 with Louis Chevrolet. R S McLaughlin in 1915 built Chevrolet in Canada and after a stock buy back campaign with the McLaughlin and DuPont corporations, and other Chevrolet stock holders, he returned to head GM in 1916,as Chevrolet owned 54.5% with the backing of Pierre S. du Pont. On October 13 of the same year, GM Company incorporated as General Motors Corporation after McLaughlin merged his companies and sold his Chevrolet stock to allow the incorporation, which in turn followed the incorporation of General Motors of Canada(reverting to General Motors Company upon emergence from bankruptcy in 2009 that left General Motors of Canada Limited as a privately owned Canadian Company). Chevrolet entered the General Motors fold in 1918 as it became part of the Corporation with R S McLaughlin as Director and Vice-President of the Corporation ; its first GM car was 1918’s Chevrolet 490. Du Pont removed Durant from management in 1920, and various Du Pont interests held large or controlling share holdings until about 1950.

In 1918 GM acquired the Chevrolet stock from McLaughlin Motor Car Company of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, manufacturer of the McLaughlin automobile since 1907 (later to be renamed McLaughlin-Buick) as well as Canadian versions of Chevrolet cars since 1915. The company was renamed General Motors of Canada Ltd., with R.S. “Colonel Sam” McLaughlin as its first president and his brother George as vice-president allied with the Corporation 1919. Superior Court of Ontario Canada documents show the Corporation as indirect parent of General Motors of Canada Limited. General Motors of Canada is a 100% owned Canadian Company.

GM’s headquarters were located in Flint until the mid-1920s when it was moved to Detroit. Its building, originally to be called the Durant Building, was designed and began construction in 1919 when Durant was president, was completed in 1923. Alfred P. Sloan became president that year, and the building was officially dedicated as the General Motors Building in 1929. GM maintained this headquarters location, now called Cadillac Place, until it purchased the Renaissance Center in 1996. The Buick Division headquarters remained in Flint until 1998 when it was relocated to the Renaissance Center.

In 1925, GM bought Vauxhall of England, and then in 1929 went on to acquire an 80% stake in German automobile manufacturer Opel. Two years later this was increased to 100%. In 1931, GM acquired Holden of Australia.

In 1926, GM created the Pontiac as a “companion” to the Oakland brand, an arrangement that lasted five years. The companion outsold its parent during that period, by so much that the Oakland brand was terminated and the division was renamed Pontiac.

General Motors acquired control of the ‘Hertz Drive-Ur-Self System’ (now better known as The Hertz Corporation), the Yellow Cab Manufacturing Company together with its subsidiaries, Yellow Coach Manufacturing Company in 1926 from John D. Hertz who joined the main board (John Hertz purchased the car rental business back from GM in 1953 and took it public the following year). GM also acquired the Yellow Coach bus company, and helped create Greyhound bus lines.

During this period (and into the 30s), Sloan and his team established the practice of targeting each of GM’s automotive divisions to a specific demographically and socio-economically identifiable market segment. Despite some shared components, each marque distinguished itself from its stable mates with unique styling and technology. The shared components and common corporate management created substantial economies of scale, while the distinctions between the divisions created (in the words of GM President Sloan) a “ladder of success”, with an entry-level buyer starting out at the bottom with the “basic transportation” Chevrolet, then rising through Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick, and ultimately to Cadillac.

While Ford continued to refine the manufacturing process to reduce cost, Sloan was inventing new ways of managing a complex worldwide organization, while paying special attention to consumer demands. Car buyers no longer wanted the cheapest and most basic model; they wanted style, power, and prestige, which GM offered them. Sloan did not neglect cost, by any means; when it was proposed Chevrolet should introduce safety glass, he opposed it because it threatened profits. Thanks to consumer financing via GMAC (founded 1919), easy monthly payments allowed far more people to buy GM cars than Ford, as Henry Ford was opposed to credit on moral principles. (Nevertheless, Ford did offer similar credit arrangements with the introduction of the Model A in the late 1920s but Ford Credit did not exist until 1959.)

GM surpassed Ford Motor Company in sales in the late 1920s.

The 1930s

In 1930, GM also began its foray into aircraft design and manufacturing by buying Fokker Aircraft Corp of America (U.S. subsidiary of Fokker) and Berliner-Joyce Aircraft, merging them into General Aviation Manufacturing Corporation. Through a stock exchange GM took controlling interest in North American Aviation and merged it with its General Aviation division in 1933, but retaining the name North American Aviation. In 1948, GM divested NAA as a public company, never to have a major interest in the aircraft manufacturing industry again.

General Motors bought the internal combustion engined railcar builder Electro-Motive Corporation and its engine supplier Winton Engine in 1930, renaming both as the General Motors Electro-Motive Division. Over the next twenty years, diesel-powered locomotives — the majority built by GM — largely replaced other forms of traction on American railroads. (During World War II, these engines were also important in American submarines and destroyer escorts.) Electro-Motive was sold in early 2005.

In 1932, GM formed a new subsidiary — United Cities Motor Transport (UCMT) — to finance the conversion of streetcar systems to buses in small cities. From 1936 the company was involved in an unpublicized project, with others, in what became known as the General Motors streetcar conspiracy to buy out streetcar and intercity train transport operators using subsidiary companies, and convert their operations to use buses.

In 1935, the United Auto Workers labor union was formed, and in 1936 the UAW organized the Flint Sit-Down Strike, which initially idled two key plants in Flint, but later spread to half-a-dozen other plants including Janesville, Wisconsin and Fort Wayne, Indiana. In Flint, police attempted to enter the plant to arrest strikers, leading to violence; in other cities the plants were shuttered peacefully. The strike was resolved February 11, 1937, when GM recognized the UAW as the exclusive bargaining representative for its workers.

World War II

General Motors produced vast quantities of armaments, vehicles, and aircraft for the Allied war effort during World War II. Its multinational interests were split up by the combating powers during the war such that the American, Canadian and British parts of the corporation served the Allied war effort and Adam Opel AG served the Axis war effort. By the spring of 1939, the German Government had assumed day-to-day control of American owned factories in Germany, but decided against nationalizing them completely (seizing the assets and capital). Soon after the war broke out, the nationalization came.

General Motors ranked first among United States corporations in the value of wartime production contracts. GM’s William S. Knudsen served as head of U.S. wartime production for President Franklin Roosevelt. The General Motors UK division, Vauxhall Motors, manufactured the Churchill tank series for the Allies. The Vauxhall Churchill tanks were instrumental in the UK campaigns in North Africa. Bedford Vehicles and GM of Canada, CMP manufactured logistics vehicles for the UK military, all important in the UK’s land campaigns. In addition, GM was the top manufacturer of U.S. Army 1½ ton 4×4 vehicles.

By mainstream accounts, General Motors’ German subsidiary (Adam Opel AG) was outside the control of the American parent corporation during World War II. Some conspiracy theorists posit that this was a hoax, with the American GM as a secret war profiteer on both sides, but Alfred Sloan’s memoir, for example, presents a description of lost control that is much more Occam-compliant than the fringe alternatives. However, even without any such conspiracy, GM found criticism for its tax avoidance around the Opel topic. During the war, GM declared it had abandoned its German subsidiary, and took a complete tax write-off worth “approximately $22.7 million”, yet after the war, GM collected some $33 million in “war reparations” because the Allies had bombed its German facilities.

General_Motors_Corporations_Specimen_Stock_Certificate

General Motors Corporations Specimen Stock Certificate

Post-war growth
At one point GM had become the largest corporation registered in the United States, in terms of its revenues as a percent of GDP. In 1953, Charles Erwin Wilson, then GM president, was named by Eisenhower as Secretary of Defense. When he was asked during the hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee if as secretary of defense he could make a decision adverse to the interests of General Motors, Wilson answered affirmatively but added that he could not conceive of such a situation “because for years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa”. Later this statement was often misquoted, suggesting that Wilson had said simply, “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.”

At the time, GM was one of the largest employers in the world – only Soviet state industries employed more people. In 1955, General Motors became the first American corporation to pay taxes of over $1 billion.

1958–1980

By 1958, the divisional distinctions within GM began to blur with the availability of high-performance engines in Chevrolets and Pontiacs. The introduction of higher trim models such as the Chevrolet Impala and Pontiac Bonneville priced in line with some Oldsmobile and Buick offerings was also confusing to consumers. By the time Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Buick introduced similarly styled and priced compact models in 1961, the old “step-up” structure between the divisions was nearly over.

1969_GTO_Judge

A classic General Motors muscle car, the 1969 Pontiac GTO

The decade of the 1960s saw the creation of compact and intermediate classes. The Chevrolet Corvair was a flat 6-cylinder (air cooled) answer to the Volkswagen Beetle, the Chevy II was created to match Ford’s conventional Falcon, after sales of the Corvair failed to match its Ford rival, and the Chevrolet Camaro/Pontiac Firebird was GM’s countermeasure to the Ford Mustang. Among intermediates, the Oldsmobile Cutlass nameplate became so popular during the 1970s that Oldsmobile applied the Cutlass name to most of its products in the 1980s. By the mid-1960s, most of GM’s vehicles were built on a few common platforms and in the 1970s GM began to further unify body panel stampings.

The 1971 Chevrolet Vega was GM’s launch into the new subcompact class to compete against the import’s increasing market share. Problems associated with its innovative aluminum engine led to the model’s discontinuation after seven model years in 1977. During the late 1970s, GM would initiate a wave of downsizing starting with the Chevrolet Caprice which was reborn into what was the size of the Chevrolet Chevelle, the Malibu would be the size of the Nova, and the Nova was replaced by the troubled front-wheel drive Chevrolet Citation. In 1976, Chevrolet came out with the rear-wheel drive sub compact Chevette.

While GM maintained its world leadership in revenue and market share throughout the 1960s to 1980s, it was product controversy that plagued the company in this period. It seemed that, in every decade, a major mass-production product line was launched with defects of one type or another showing up early in their life cycle. And, in each case, improvements were eventually made to mitigate the problems, but the resulting improved product ended up failing in the marketplace as its negative reputation overshadowed its ultimate excellence.

The first of these fiascos was the Chevrolet Corvair in the 1960s. Introduced in 1959 as a 1960 model, it was initially very popular. But before long its quirky handling earned it a reputation for being unsafe, inspiring consumer advocate Ralph Nader to lambaste it in his book, Unsafe at Any Speed, published in 1965. Ironically, by the same (1965) model year, suspension revisions and other improvements had already transformed the car into a perfectly acceptable vehicle, but its reputation had been sufficiently sullied in the public’s perception that its sales sagged for the next few years, and it was discontinued after the 1969 model year. During this period, it was also somewhat overwhelmed by the success of the Ford Mustang.

The 1970s was the decade of the Vega. Launched as a 1971 model, it also began life as a very popular car in the marketplace. But within a few years, quality problems, exacerbated by labor unrest at its main production source in Lordstown, Ohio, gave the car a bad name. By 1977 its decline resulted in termination of the model name, while its siblings along with a Monza version and a move of production to Ste-Thérèse, Quebec, resulted in a thoroughly desirable vehicle and extended its life to the 1980 model year.

Oldsmobile sales soared in the 1970s and 1980s (for an all-time high of 1,066,122 in 1985) based on popular designs, positive reviews from critics and the perceived quality and reliability of the Rocket V8 engine, with the Cutlass series becoming North America’s top selling car by 1976. By this time, Olds had displaced Pontiac and Plymouth as the #3 best selling brand in the U.S. behind Chevrolet and Ford. In the early 1980s, model-year production topped one million units on several occasions, something only Chevrolet and Ford had achieved. The soaring popularity of Oldsmobile vehicles resulted in a major issue in 1977, as demand exceeded production capacity for the Oldsmobile V8, and as a result Oldsmobile quietly began equipping some full size Delta 88 models and the very popular Cutlass/Cutlass Supreme with the Chevrolet 350 engine instead (each division of GM produced its own 350 V8 engine). Many customers were loyal Oldsmobile buyers who specifically wanted the Rocket V8, and did not discover that their vehicle had the Chevrolet engine until they performed maintenance and discovered that purchased parts did not fit. This led to a class-action lawsuit which became a public relations nightmare for GM. Following this debacle, disclaimers stating that “Oldsmobiles are equipped with engines produced by various GM divisions” were tacked onto advertisements and sales literature; all other GM divisions followed suit. In addition, GM quickly stopped associating engines with particular divisions, and to this day all GM engines are produced by “GM Powertrain” (GMPT) and are called GM “Corporate” engines instead of GM “Division” engines. Although it was the popularity of the Oldsmobile division vehicles that prompted this change, declining sales of V8 engines would have made this change inevitable as all but the Chevrolet (and, later, Cadillac’s Northstar) versions were eventually dropped.

In the 1980 model year, a full line of automobiles on the X-body platform, anchored by the Chevrolet Citation, was launched. Again, these cars were all quite popular in their respective segments for the first couple of years, but brake problems, and other defects, ended up giving them, known to the public as “X-Cars”, such a bad reputation that the 1985 model year was their last. The J-body cars, namely the Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunbird, took their place, starting with the 1982 model year. Quality was better, but still not exemplary, although good enough to survive through three generations to the 2005 model year. They were produced in a much-improved Lordstown Assembly plant, as were their replacements, the Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac Pursuit/G5.


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Car Making Pioneers

Kanter Auto Restoration

Henry Ford

Henry Ford

One of America’s foremost industrialists, Henry Ford revolutionized assembly-line
modes of production for the automobile.

1000509261001_1105772679001_bio-top250-henryford-carforthepeople

Resource:

Henry Ford. (2014). The Biography.com website. Retrieved 11:59, Jul 02, 2014,
from http://www.biography.com/people/henry-ford-9298747.


Synopsis

Born on July 30, 1863, near Dearborn, Michigan, Henry Ford created the Ford Model T car in 1908 and went on to develop the assembly line mode of production, which revolutionized the industry. As a result, Ford sold millions of cars and became a world-famous company head. The company lost its market dominance but had a lasting impact on other technological development and U.S. infrastructure.

Early Life

Famed automobile manufacturer Henry Ford was born on July 30, 1863, on his family’s farm in Wayne County, near Dearborn, Michigan. When Ford was 13 years old, his father gifted him a pocket watch, which the young boy promptly took apart and reassembled. Friends and neighbors were impressed, and requested that he fix their timepieces too.

Unsatisfied with farm work, Ford left home the following year, at the age of 16, to take an apprenticeship as a machinist in Detroit. In the years that followed, he would learn to skillfully operate and service steam engines, and would also study bookkeeping.

Early Career

In 1888, Ford married Clara Ala Bryant and briefly returned to farming to support his wife and son, Edsel. But three years later, he was hired as an engineer for the Edison Illuminating Company. In 1893, his natural talents earned him a promotion to chief engineer.

All the while, Ford developed his plans for a horseless carriage, and in 1896, he constructed his first model, the Ford Quadricycle. Within the same year, he attended a meeting with Edison executives and found himself presenting his automobile plans to Thomas Edison. The lighting genius encouraged Ford to build a second, better model.

Ford Motor Company

After a few trials building cars and companies, in 1903, Henry Ford established the Ford Motor Company. Ford introduced the Model T in October of 1908, and for several years, the company posted 100 percent gains.

However, more than for his profits, Ford became renowned for his revolutionary vision: the manufacture of an inexpensive automobile made by skilled workers who earn steady wages.

In 1914, he sponsored the development of the moving assembly line technique of mass production. Simultaneously, he introduced the $5-per-day wage ($110 in 2011) as a method of keeping the best workers loyal to his company. Simple to drive and cheap to repair, half of all cars in America in 1918 were Model T’s.

Philosophy, Philanthropy

From a social perspective, Henry Ford’s was marked by seemingly contradictory viewpoints. In business, Ford offered profit sharing to select employees who stayed with the company for six months and, most important, who conducted their lives in a respectable manner. Unfortunately Ford was also known for his public anti-Semitic views which rightfully have tarnished his reputation.

The company’s “Social Department” looked into an employee’s drinking, gambling and otherwise uncouth activities to determine eligibility for participation. Ford was also an ardent pacifist and opposed World War I, even funding a peace ship to Europe. Later, in 1936, Ford and his family established the Ford Foundation to provide ongoing grants for research, education and development.

Henry Ford died of a cerebral hemorrhage on April 7, 1947, at the age of 83, near his Dearborn estate, Fair Lane. Ford, considered one of America’s leading businessmen, is credited today for helping to build America’s economy during the nation’s vulnerable early years. His legacy will live on for decades to come.


 

henry ford

My Life & Work – An Autobiography of Henry Ford Paperback

This book is the original autobiographical work by Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company. In this book, Ford details how he got into business, the strategies that he used to become a wealthy and successful businessman, and what others can do by learning from the examples he has outlined.

This book should be read by small business owners, business students and those interested in the history of the automobile. Henry Ford will take you through a journey of history, business and lessons to be learned from which he used to develop his financial empire.

Henry Ford Inventor of Automobile Assembly Line

Henry Ford Inventor of Automobile Assembly Line


History of the Model T Ford


 

Walter P Chrysler

Walter Chrysler


Resource: Wikipedia

 

Early life

Chrysler was born in Wamego, Kansas, the son of Anna Maria (née Breymann) and Henry Chrysler. He grew up in Ellis, Kansas. His father was born in Chatham, Ontario in 1850 and immigrated to the United States after 1858. A Freemason, Chrysler began his career as a machinist and railroad mechanic. He took correspondence courses from International Correspondence Schools in Scranton, Pennsylvania, earning a mechanical degree from the correspondence program.

Ancestry

Walter Chrysler’s father, Henry (Hank) Chrysler, was a Canadian-American of German and Dutch ancestry. He was an American Civil War veteran who was a locomotive engineer for the Kansas Pacific Railway and its successor, the Union Pacific Railroad. Walter’s mother was born in Rocheport, Missouri, and was also of German ancestry. Walter Chrysler was not especially interested in his remote ancestors; his collaborative author Boyden Sparkes says that one genealogical researcher reported “that he had a sea-going Dutchman among his forebears; one Captain Jan Gerritsen Van Dalsen”, but that “as to that, Walter Chrysler made it plain to me he was in accord with Jimmy Durante: ‘Ancestors? I got millions of ’em!’.” However, he thought enough of genealogy to include in his autobiography that his father, Hank Chrysler, “Canadian born, had been brought from Chatham, Ontario, to Kansas City when he was only five or six. His forebears had founded Chatham; the family stock was German; eight generations back of me there had come to America one who spelled his name Greisler, a German Palatine. He was one of a group of Protestants who had left their German homeland in the Rhine Valley, gone to the Netherlands, thence to England and embarked, finally, from Plymouth for New York.”

Other researchers have since traced his ancestors in more detail. Karin Holl’s monograph on the subject traces the family tree to a Johann Philipp Kreissler, born in 1672, who left Germany for America in 1709. Chrysler’s ancestors came from the Rhineland-Palatinate town of Guntersblum.

Railroad career

Chrysler apprenticed in the railroad shops at Ellis as a machinist and railroad mechanic. He then spent a period of years roaming the west, working for various railroads as a roundhouse mechanic with a reputation of being good at valve-setting jobs. Some of his moves were due to restlessness and a too-quick temper, but his roaming was also a way to become more well-rounded in his railroad knowledge. He worked his way up through positions such as foreman, superintendent, division master mechanic, and general master mechanic.

From 1905-1906, Chrysler worked for the Fort Worth and Denver Railway in Childress in West Texas. He later lived and worked in Oelwein, Iowa, at the main shops of the Chicago Great Western where there is a small park dedicated to him.

The pinnacle of his railroading career came at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he became works manager of the Allegheny locomotive erecting shops of the American Locomotive Company (ALCO). While working in Pittsburgh, Chrysler lived in the town of Bellevue, the first town outside of Pittsburgh on the north side of the Ohio River.

Automotive career

Chrysler’s automotive career began in 1911 when he received a summons to meet with James J. Storrow, a banker who was a director of ALCO and also an executive at General Motors. Storrow asked him if he had given any thought to automobile manufacture. Chrysler had been an auto enthusiast for over 5 years by then, and was very interested. Storrow arranged a meeting with Charles W. Nash, then president of the Buick Motor Company, who was looking for a smart production chief. Chrysler, who had resigned from many railroading jobs over the years, made his final resignation from railroading to become works manager (in charge of production) at Buick in Flint, Michigan.[10] He found many ways to reduce the costs of production, such as putting an end to finishing automobile undercarriages with the same luxurious quality of finish that the body warranted.

In 1916, William C. Durant, who founded General Motors in 1908, had retaken GM from bankers who had taken over the company. Chrysler, who was closely tied to the bankers, submitted his resignation to Durant, then based in New York City.

Durant took the first train to Flint to make an attempt to keep Chrysler at the helm of Buick. Durant made the then-unheard of salary offer of US$10,000 (US$165,000 in today’s dollars) a month for 3 years, with a US$500,000 bonus at the end of each year, or US$500,000 in stock. Additionally, Chrysler would report directly to Durant, and would have full run of Buick without interference from anyone.

Apparently in shock, Chrysler asked Durant to repeat the offer, which he did. Chrysler immediately accepted.

Chrysler ran Buick successfully for several more years. Not long after his three year contract was up, he resigned from his job as president of Buick in 1919. He did not agree with Durant’s vision for the future of General Motors. Durant paid Chrysler US$10 million for his GM stock. Chrysler had started at Buick in 1911 for US$6,000 a year, and left one of the richest men in America.

Chrysler was then hired to attempt a turnaround by bankers who foresaw the loss of their investment in Willys-Overland Motor Company in Toledo, Ohio. He demanded, and got, a salary of US$1 million a year for 2 years, an astonishing amount at that time. When Chrysler left Willys in 1921 after an unsuccessful attempt to wrest control from John Willys, he acquired a controlling interest in the ailing Maxwell Motor Company. Chrysler phased out Maxwell and absorbed it into his new firm, the Chrysler Corporation, in Detroit, Michigan, in 1925. In addition to his namesake car company, Plymouth and DeSoto marques were created, and in 1928 Chrysler purchased Dodge. The same year he financed the construction of the Chrysler Building in New York City, which was completed in 1930. Chrysler was named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year for 1928.

In 1923, Chrysler purchased a twelve-acre waterfront estate at Kings Point on Long Island, New York from Henri Willis Bendel and renamed it “Forker House.” In December 1941, the property was sold to the U.S. government’s War Shipping Department and became known as Wiley Hall as part of the United States Merchant Marine Academy.[13] He also built a country estate in Warrenton, Virginia, in what is referred to as the Virginia horse country and home to the Warrenton Hunt. In 1934, he purchased and undertook a major restoration of the famous Fauquier White Sulphur Springs Company resort and spa in Warrenton. Sold in 1953, the property was developed as a country club, which it remains today.

On the estate he inherited, Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. established North Wales Stud for the purpose of breeding Thoroughbred horses. Chrysler, Jr. was part of a syndicate that included friend Alfred G. Vanderbilt II who in 1940 acquired the 1935 English Triple Crown winner Bahram from the Aga Khan III. Bahram stood at stud at Vanderbilt’s Sagamore Farm in Maryland then was brought to Chrysler’s North Wales Stud.

Chrysler turned 61 in the spring of 1936 and decided to step down from an active role in the day-to-day business of the company. Two years later, Della died at the age of 58 and Walter, devastated at the loss of his childhood sweetheart, suffered a stroke. His previously robust health never recovered from this, and he succumbed to a cerebral hemorrhage in August 1940 at Forker House. He was buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York.

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Life and Times of Chrysler

Chrysler: The Life and Times of an Automotive Genius (Automotive History and Personalities) Paperback

Walter P. Chrysler was a man who loved machines, an accomplished mechanic who also had highly developed managerial skills derived from half a lifetime on the railroads, and whose success came from his deep understanding of engineering and his total commitment to the quality of his vehicles.

Here, Vincent Curcio presents a richly detailed account of one of the most important men in American automotive history, based on full access to both Chrysler Corporation and Chrysler family historical records.

Curcio traces Chrysler’s rise from a locomotive wiper in a Kansas roundhouse to his rescue of the Maxwell-Chalmers car company, which led to the successful development of the 1924 Chrysler–the world’s first modern car–and the formation of Chrysler Corporation in 1925. Chrysler was quite different from the other auto giants–a colorful and expansive man deeply involved in the design of his cars, he established his headquarters in New York City and built the world’s most famous art deco structure, the fabled Chrysler Building. Because of his emphasis on quality at popular prices, the company weathered the Great Depression with flying colors and remained profitable right up to Chrysler’s death in 1940.

The definitive portrait, Chrysler is a must read for all car enthusiasts and for everyone interested in the story of a giant of industry.

 


louischevrolet

Louis Chevrolet


Resource: Wikipedia*


Chevrolet

Louis-Joseph Chevrolet (December 25, 1878 – June 6, 1941) was a Swiss-born American race car driver of French descent, founder of the Chevrolet Motor Car Company in 1911, and a founder in 1916 of the Frontenac Motor Corporation, which made racing parts for Ford’s Model T.

Biography

The second child of Joseph-Félicien and Marie-Anne Angéline, née Mahon, Louis Chevrolet was born in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Canton of Neuchâtel, a center of watchmaking in northwestern Switzerland. In 1886, Chevrolet’s family left Switzerland to live in Beaune, in the Côte-d’Or département of France. There, as a young man, Louis developed his mechanical skills and interest in bicycle racing.

220px-Louis_Chevrolet_in_Buick_ca_1900

Louis Chevrolet in a Buick he designed, circa 1900.

Chevrolet worked for the Roblin mechanics shop from 1895 to 1899. He then went to Paris, where he worked for a short time before emigrating to Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1900 to work as a mechanic. The following year, he moved to New York City, where he worked briefly for a fellow Swiss immigrant’s engineering company, then moved to the Brooklyn operations of the French car manufacturer de Dion-Bouton.

In 1905 he married Suzanne Treyvoux; the couple had two sons. In the same year, he was hired by FIAT as a racing car driver and a year later became employed by a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania company developing a revolutionary front-wheel-drive racing car. His racing career continued as he drove for Buick, becoming a friend and associate of Buick owner William C. Durant, founder of General Motors. He raced at the Giants Despair Hillclimb in 1909.

With little in the way of formal education, Chevrolet learned car design while working for Buick and started designing his own engine for a new car in 1909. He built an overhead valve six-cylinder engine in his own machine shop on Grand River Boulevard in Detroit, Michigan.

Chevrolet Car Company

On November 3, 1911, Chevrolet co-founded the Chevrolet Motor Car Company with Durant and investment partners William Little (maker of the Little automobile) and Dr. Edwin R. Campbell, son-in-law of Durant and friend of Samuel McLaughlin of the McLaughlin Car Company of Canada Ltd. The company was established in Detroit. One story tells the choosing of the company’s logo as a modified Swiss cross, to honor Chevrolet’s homeland. Another story tells of the Chevrolet logo as a design taken from the wallpaper of a Paris hotel room that Louis once stayed in.

Chevrolet had differences with Durant over the car’s design, and in 1915 sold Durant his share in the company and started McLaughlin’s Company in Canada building Chevrolets. By 1916 the trading of Chevrolet stock for GM Holding stock enabled Durant to repurchase a controlling stake in General Motors, and by 1917 the Chevrolet company that Louis had co-founded was merged as a company into General Motors after the outstanding Chevrolet stocks were purchased from McLaughlin in 1918. The McLaughlin Car Company then merged with his Chevrolet Motor Company of Canada Ltd. to become General Motors of Canada Ltd. in 1918, prior to the incorporation of the General Motors Corporation in the U.S. when General Motors Company of New Jersey dissolved.

220px-American_Motors_Corporation_advert_in_Horseless_Age_v44_n4_1918-05-15_p7

Frontenac and American car companies
In 1916, Louis Chevrolet and his brothers founded the Frontenac Motor Corporation to make racing parts for Ford Model Ts.

Also in 1916, an American Motors Corporation (apparently unrelated to the more famous later corporation of the same name) was formed in Newark, New Jersey, with Louis Chevrolet as vice president and chief engineer. By 1918 it was producing cars in a plant at Plainfield, New Jersey. In 1923 it merged with the Bessemer Motor Truck Company of Pennsylvania into Bessemer-American Motors Corporation, which lasted less than a year before merging with the Winther and Northway companies into Amalgamated Motors. The latter company apparently ceased soon after.

Auto racing

By the mid-1910s, Louis Chevrolet had shifted into the racing car industry, partnering with Howard E. Blood of Allegan, Michigan, to create the Cornelian racing car, which he used to place 20th in the 1915 Indianapolis 500 automobile race. In 1916, he and younger brothers Gaston and Arthur Chevrolet started Frontenac Motor Corporation, designing and producing a line of racing cars. They became well known for, among other things, their Fronty-Ford racers.

Louis drove in the Indianapolis 500 four times, with a best finish of 7th in 1919. Arthur competed twice, and Gaston won the race in 1920 in one of their Frontenacs, going on to win the 1920 AAA National Championship.

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General Motors

William C. Durant: GM’s Genius [Kindle Edition]

Daniel Alef

Biographical profile of William Crapo Durant, legendary automobile pioneer who founded General Motors. GM’s current financial crisis is nothing new for America’s largest automobile company. It happened twice in its early years while GM was under Durant’s leadership. Durant was one of the largest manufacturers of wagons and carriages when he decided to acquire a failing automobile manufacturer, the Buick Motor Company. A deft salesman with the Midas touch, Durant soon had Buick sales soaring. In 1908 he placed Buick, Oldsmobile, Oakland Car Company and Cadillac into his newly formed General Motors, but he amassed so much debt the company’s bankers rebelled and forced him out.

Undaunted, Durant formed another car company, Chevrolet, and in a case of the minnow swallowing the whale, arranged for Chevrolet to acquire GM. Back at the helm Durant pressed for rapid growth and again found himself mired in too much debt. The story of this master salesman and automotive visionary involves triumphs and failures, but all accomplished with panache and verve. Award-winning author and syndicated columnist Daniel Alef, who has written more than 300 biographical profiles of America’s greatest tycoons, brings out the story of Durant’s remarkable life of ups, downs and achievements. [2,594-word Titans of Fortune article]

Charles Nash

Charles Nash: From Buick to Rambler and Ambassador [Kindle Edition]

Biographical profile of Charles W. Nash, a dirt-poor farm boy who overcame abandonment by his parents, indentured servitude for a farmer and became one of America’s most successful and accomplished automobile pioneers. Although he died in the tony city of Beverly Hills after amassing a fortune, he never ventured far from his roots, describing himself as “the most common cuss that lived,” and noting that he was proud of belonging to the “common people.” One thing is certain, Nash was not a common person; he ascended to the presidency of General Motors because of his unique vision, perseverance, creativity, courage and innate understanding of human nature. B.C. Forbes described Nash as “a very practical authority on what makes for success.” Award-winning author Daniel Alef tells the Nash story and his rise to the pinnacle of the automobile industry. [2,904-word Titans of Fortune article]

chevrolet

Zora Arkus-Duntov -The Legend Behind Corvette (Chevrolet) [Hardcover]

Jerry Burton

Zora Arkus-Duntov: The Legend Behind Corvette
tells the story of how a gifted engineer brought up by Russian Revolutionary parents became the guiding force behind the legendary American sports car, and in the process attained the elite status of American legend himself. Author Jerry Burton, founding editor and current editorial director of Corvette Quarterly, has worked with many of Zora’s friends and colleagues, as well as his widow Elfi, to write the first major biography of Zora Arkus-Duntov. Burton has illustrated his book with hundreds of unpublished photos, blueprints, and archival documents. This book puts Duntov in the perspective needed to understand his achievements as a Russian-Jewish immigrant fighting to make his mark at General Motors.

 

Up From Clay – A Car is Born in 1959

A General Motors film that delves into how a car goes from a clay model to being mass produced. Here you can see a Fisher body being started. We see how designers and engineers take drawings turn them into clay mock ups and translate it into the tooling that will stamp steel and determine how all the steel, glass, rubber, fabrics and more will be turned into a brand new automobile. We also see how these cars are put through their paces on the test track.

bodiesbyfisher
The Stylist’s vision & design for a new car.

claymodel
The car is sculpted into a 3D model with clay.

over20000drawings
Over 20,000+ drawings to transform the stylist’s design into a plan for the prototype.