Billy Durant lost control of General Motors to East Coast bankers in October 1910, but he knew what he had to do to reclaim it.
As Durant wrote later in notes for an unfinished autobiography, "If I ever expected to regain control of General Motors, which I certainly intended to do, I should have another company of my own."
And he knew just the man to help: Louis Chevrolet.
The association with Chevrolet began in 1907, when Durant invited the Swiss-born driver from France to join the Buick racing team. After leaving the team in 1909, Chevrolet began developing a six-cylinder touring auto with funding from Durant.
Durant saw an opportunity to use the new car — and Chevrolet's racing fame — to help regain control of GM.
"He was planning his comeback," Chevrolet later recalled, "and he told me, 'We're going to need a car.' " On Nov. 3, 1911, Chevrolet Motor Car Co. was incorporated. The course back to GM was set, the vehicle chosen.
In reality, it would take more than one car and more than one company. While Chevrolet labored on his touring car, Durant established Little Motor Car Co., which would be the cornerstone of the operation; and Mason Motor Co., which would supply engines to both new automakers.