The history of the Chevrolet vehicle began in Detroit, Michigan, where William C. "Billy" Durant, General Motors founder, and auto racer Louis Chevrolet created the automotive brand in November 1911. Chevrolet developed cars known for their affordability, durability, performance and technology. The Series C Classic Six, the first Chevrolet, offered rare features including electric headlights and an electric starter. As of 2015, Chevrolet is the fourth-largest motor vehicle brand worldwide.
Born in 1878 in Switzerland, Louis Chevrolet was an engineer, mechanic and daring road racer. Driving a specially designed car, Chevrolet established a land-speed record of 111 miles per hour in 1905. William Durant, born in 1861, was an automotive visionary who founded GM in 1908. Forced out of GM, Durant formed a partnership with Chevrolet and others, creating the Chevrolet Company in 1911.
The company named the Series C Classic Six after Chevrolet as a marketing strategy, believing his racing visibility would boost sales. The Classic Six was large with lots of details. With its six-cylinder, 299-cubic-inch 40-horsepower engine, the automobile reached 65 miles per hour at top speed. Chevrolet sold the car for about $2,150 and manufactured it through 1913.
Due to differences in business philosophy, Durant bought out Chevrolet’s company interest in 1915. In 1916, Durant bought a controlling interest in GM and by 1917, as the company head, he had added Chevrolet as a division. Durant and Chevrolet both lost their fortunes during the Great Depression.
In 1955, Chevrolet introduced the small-block V8 engine that has powered millions of vehicles for more than 60 years. Classic Chevrolets include the 1957 Chevy Bel Air, 1963 Corvette Stingray and 1967 Camaro.