Durant, Nash, Chrysler

  • 1908: Beginning in early 1908 Benjamin Briscoe approached Durant to consider an auto industry consolidation. Meetings were held in Flint, Detroit, and New York with Durant (Buick), Henry Ford (Ford), Ransom Olds (REO), Benjamin Briscoe (Maxwell-Briscoe), and New York Bankers including J.P. Morgan.
  • As consolidation negotiations were failing, Durant approached Mr. S. L. Smith, owner of the Olds Motor Works in Lansing, Michigan. This company was not successful after Ransom E. Olds left the company.
  • On September 16, 1908 General Motors Company was incorporated in New Jersey. Durant provided capital to the newly formed GM, essentially purchasing it. He then proceeded to use it as a holding company to buy automobile manufacturers and auto parts suppliers. Durant sold Buick Motors to GM, and acquired Olds Motor Works (Lansing) for GM. Soon afterwards, Durant acquired Cadillac (Detroit) and Oakland (Pontiac) car companies for GM.
  • 1909: Buick manufactures 14,606 automobiles.
  • 1910: Durant becomes financially overextended by his many purchases of companies on borrowed money. Bankers force Durant to relinquish control of GM. On September 9, 1910 Durant resigns his position and Charles W. Nash is appointed General Manager of Buick. Nash, who was General Manager and Vice-President of the Durant-Dort Carriage Company at the time, had no automobile experience. Buick manufactures 30,525 automobiles.
  • Charles W. Nash was born in 1864 in Illinois. At age 6 his parents divorced and both abandoned him. The court appointed a Michigan farmer to be his guardian where Charles would work for room and board. He ran away at age 12 to work for another farmer for pay. He then went to work as a clerk in a hardware store where Durant noticed him and hired him for his carriage factory. Starting in the blacksmith shop, Nash eventually rose to the position of General Manager. At his death in 1948, he left an estate worth $50 million.
  • 1911: Walter P. Chrysler, employed in the railroad industry, is hired by Nash to become Works Manager for Buick Motors. Buick manufactures 13,389 automobiles ranking fifth in the industry well behind number one manufacturer, Ford, who produced nearly 70,000 Model T’s. The popular Buick Model 10 is discontinued.
  • Durant and racecar driver, Louis Chevrolet, partner to form Chevrolet Motor Car Company located in Detroit, Michigan.
  • 1912: Buick manufactures 19,812 automobiles and moves into fourth place in the industry.
  • 1913: Buick manufactures 26,666 automobiles.
  • 1914: Durant buys out his partner Louis Chevrolet. Trading Chevrolet Motor Car Company stock for GM Company stock, Durant is able to gain a controlling interest in General Motors Company. Buick manufactures 32,889 automobiles.
  • 1915: Durant, in a famous proxy fight, regains control of GM Company. Buick manufactures 43,946 automobiles.
  • 1916: Durant re-organizes GM Company into General Motors Corporation and brings GM of Canada into the Corporation.
  • Durant fires Charles Nash and re-hires Walter Chrysler as President of Buick.
  • Buick manufactures 124,834 automobiles.
  • 1917: Durant merges Chevrolet Motor Car Company into General Motors Corporation. Buick manufactures 55,578 automobiles.
  • 1918: Durant loses control of GM Corporation for a second and final time. Alfred P. Sloan is appointed to lead General Motors. Walter Marr retires as Chief Engineer at Buick. Buick manufactures 128,632 automobiles.
  • 1919: Walter Chrysler leaves Buick. Buick manufactures 65,997 automobiles.

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