The Great Depression caused other automakers to go under, banks to fail and one of every four American workers to lose his or her job. Yet General Motors stayed in the black.
The stock market crash of Oct. 24, 1929, heralded an economic slump that would cripple the United States and other industrialized nations for much of the next decade.
But throughout the Depression, historian William Pelfrey noted, GM maintained a profit margin of at least 10 percent in every year except 1932.
Under President Alfred Sloan, GM "was able to underprice the competition and increase market share in the core automotive business during those dark years, laying the foundation for even more astounding future growth," Pelfrey wrote in his book Billy, Alfred, and General Motors.
Still, GM was not immune to the effects of the Depression:
-- GM closed some plants and laid off workers at the rest of its factories, Pelfrey wrote. At the same time, he said, the "most efficient and critical ones scheduled overtime and increased assembly line speed rather than bring people back or add new jobs and costs."
-- Between one-fourth and one-third of all U.S. auto dealers went broke during the Depression, Timothy Jacobs estimates in his book, A History of General Motors.
-- On Sept. 1, 1929, GM stock traded at $73 a share on the New York Stock Exchange. On the same date in 1932, the stock closed at just under $16.
-- GM's U.S. unit sales dropped from nearly 1.5 million in 1929 to fewer than 522,000 in 1932, according to company data.
-- In 1929, GM reported net sales of $1.5 billion, according to Automotive Daily News, the predecessor of Automotive News. In 1932, GM sales plunged to $432.3 million.
-- The company's net income plummeted from $248.3 million in 1929 to $164,979 in 1932, the newspaper reported. And GM lost $4.5 million on automobile sales in 1932, Jacobs wrote, as talk arose "of closing out Cadillac."