Billy Durant founded General Motors, but his path was filled with important bit players whose names never became part of the auto lexicon.
The Fisher brothers were able to win and retain the lifelong loyalty of their employees. My father was one of them for 37 years.
Hummer may be sold. Saab has lost its identity. Will both brands go the way of Lotus, the performance car maker General Motors sold in the 1990s?
Acquaintances of John McNamara called him a "great guy." The Long Island Buick-Pontiac-GMC dealer was known as a philanthropist. But in September 1992, McNamara admitted bilking General Motors Acceptance Corp. out of about $443 million in a Ponzi scheme. He borrowed about $6 billion from GMAC over 11 years.
It's no surprise that many of the things we take for granted can be traced to their origin at GM. Here are some highlights from GM's first century as an engineering leader.
The lives of top GM executives in the 1950s afforded perks and privileges available to only the few.
The seizure of power by GM's outside directors in 1992 and their ouster of a generation of top leaders appeared to be validated during the next several years by the company's improved performance. The link between the board coup and the improved results was the new president and CEO, Jack Smith.
In 1999, General Motors said it planned to buy dealerships and form its own retail operation, GM Retail Holdings. The proposal didn't get far. Dealers successfully lobbied state lawmakers for greater protection against perceived factory competition.
General Motors' history in Japan is nearly as long as the company's itself. The first Buicks and Cadillacs arrived in 1915, just seven years after the automaker was founded.
Since Billy Durant assembled GM's retail network in 1908, the company's U.S. dealers have sold about 301 million cars and light trucks. At an estimated average transaction price over the past century of $10,000 (it's now about $30,000), those vehicles have put about $3.1 trillion in dealers' cash registers.