GM's story is the American story
Keith E. Crain, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief
Started by an entrepreneur, Billy Durant, GM flourished as many companies did in the prosperity before and after the "war to end all wars." When the business got bigger and more complex in the 1920s, the company needed the organizational skills of Alfred Sloan, who was handpicked by the DuPonts.
It was Big Bill Knudsen, on loan from GM to the U.S. government, who turned GM and the motor industry into the arsenal of democracy in the 1940s. GM turned on a dime from a consumer company into a war machine that played a critical role in the Allies' victory.
After the war, GM hit its stride and became an automotive juggernaut. Under the styling leadership of Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell, along with Ed Cole, GM created fabulous cars that made it a dominant force. GM was the motor industry, and it expanded around the world.
"Chevrolet" and "Cadillac" became the biggest household words among GM's popular brands.
The world became a smaller place after World War II. While America prospered as never before, Europe saw the rise of Opel; Brazil watched the growth of its own Chevrolet; and Australia saw the birth of Australian cars at GM's Holden. GM was on a roll, and nothing seemed to slow it down — until the oil crises of the 1970s and the global rise of Japan and its auto companies.
The growth of that quarter-century after World War II will never be matched. It was the Golden Age for General Motors. GM's recent quarter-century was in a far different world. Today GM is competing in the United States with automakers from all over the world, while competing all over the world itself.
General Motors has a magnificent heritage. It will be fascinating to watch its second hundred years.