On April 21, 1967, General Motors (GM) celebrates the manufacture of its 100 millionth American-made car. At the time, GM was the world’s largest automaker.
General Motors was established in 1908 in Flint, Michigan, by horse-drawn carriage mogul William Durant. In 1904, Durant invested in the Buick Motor Company, which was started in 1903 by Scottish-born inventor David Dunbar Buick. Within a few years of forming his company, Buick lost control of it and sold his stock, which would later be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. (In 1929, Buick died at age 74 in relative obscurity and modest circumstances). Durant made Buick Motors the cornerstone of his new holding company, General Motors, then acquired Oldsmobile, Cadillac and Reliance Motor Company, among other auto and truck makers.
In 1911, Durant founded Chevrolet Motor Company, which by 1918 was part of GM. By the early 1930s, GM had passed the Ford Motor Company to become the world’s biggest automaker. Although Ford sold more than 15 million Model Ts between 1908 and 1927, the company was criticized for not responding quickly enough to consumer demand for new models, as GM did. GM also offered financing options to consumers, while Henry Ford objected to credit.
GM went on to experience decades of growth. The company pursued a strategy of selling a vehicle “for every purse and purpose,” in the words of Alfred Sloan, who became GM’s president in 1923 and resigned as chairman in 1956. In 1940, the company commemorated its 25 millionth American-made car, and by its peak in 1962, GM produced 51 percent of all the cars in the U.S. Its 75 millionth U.S.-made car rolled off the assembly line that year, while the 100 millionth car followed in 1967.
READ MORE: The Cars That Made America