Chevy’s history has some surprises in store even for you long-time Chevy fans. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy these remarkable moments from the history of the famed automaker.
In the Beginning
Chevrolet Motor Company was incorporated on November 3, 1911. The company began as a partnership between businessman William Durant and well-known race car driver Louis Chevrolet. Surprisingly, Chevy began as a luxury brand. In 1912, the company produced its first vehicle, the Series C “Classic Six. It was luxurious and very expensive for its time at a cost of $2,150 (about $50,000 today).
The company was still in its infancy when its co-founders began to feud over what kinds of cars to make. The race car driver wanted his name associated with luxury vehicles while Durant insisted Chevy should produce value-priced vehicles. When the business partners couldn’t agree, the race car driver left the company, which kept the right to use his name. With his contrary business partner gone, Durant turned Chevy toward affordable vehicles. In 1915, the company introduced its first value-priced car, the Chevy 490, which it named after its list price of $490. Chevy became part of General Motors in 1918.
The Royal Mail Roadster was the first Chevy to carry the bowtie logo in 1914.
In 1918, Chevy began producing trucks.
Chevy opened a plant in Copenhagen, its first plant outside of the United States in 1924.
Chevy Brings Innovation to the Marketplace
In 1934, Chevy brought innovative engineering to the value-priced market with the introduction of knee action independent front suspension on its Master Series for model year 1935. The company continued its innovation in 1935 with the invention of a new segment in the vehicle industry, the utility vehicle, which Chevy called the Suburban Carryall. It could seat eight on three benches and is the forerunner of the modern sports utility vehicle. The Suburban also has the distinction of being the long continually running nameplate in the industry.
To support the war effort, Chevy stopped production of civilian vehicles in 1942 so that the company could focus on producing military trucks. Civilian production was re-launched three years later. However, it wouldn’t be until 1948 that Chevy brought out its first new trucks since before World War II. These Advance Design pickup trucks inspired the design of the 2003-2006 Chevy SSR.
Chevy Returns to Innovation
Chevy began the 1950’s with a return to innovation. The automaker beat its competitors to market with the first value-priced American cars with automatic, or “Powerglide”, transmission on its 1950 models. Chevy continued its innovation with the Corvette in 1953. It marked the first time a fiberglass body was used in regular production. Just two years later Chevy introduced its famous small block V-8 engine. In 1957, Chevy brought four wheel drive to its trucks. The same year the automaker introduced fuel injection in the Corvette and some of its other models. The following year Chevy debuted the Impala. In 1959, the company introduced the Corvair, the only American car to have a rear-mounted air-cooled six-cylinder engine.
Chevy in Song
In 1956 Dinah Shore began to end every episode of her television show with the song See The USA In Your Chevrolet.
The Beach Boys’ 1962 song 4-0-9 is about Chevys that have a 409 cubic inch V-8 engine.
Chevy Keeps Going
In 1963, the Corvette Sting Ray Split-Window Coupe was introduced and became an object of collector’s desire because it was produced for just one model year. Chevy introduced the Camaro in 1967. Three years later Chevy introduced a muscle car with the 450-hp 1970 Chevelle SS 45. In 1975 Chevy debuted its “Baseball, Hot Dogs and Apple Pie” ad campaign. The 1979 Monza became the 100th millionth Chevy made. Chevy saddens Corvette fans by failing to make a 1983 model year Corvette. That model year was supposed to be introduction of the new C4 Corvette in the fall of 1982. Production delays meant the C4 wasn’t actually ready until January 1983, therefore, Chevy dubbed it the 1984 model year.
Chevy introduced a new ad campaign with the theme “The Heartbeat of America” in 1986. In 1991, a song celebrated Chevy again when the company based its “Like a Rock” ad campaign for Chevy trucks on a song by Bob Seger. The company marked its 100th anniversary in 2011, which was same year that it debuted its extended range electric car, the Volt. This year Chevy celebrates 100 years of Chevy trucks.
More Chevy Facts
The millionth Corvette came off the assembly line in 1992.
The Camaro was discontinued after model year 2002 but made its return in 2010.