In 1911 the world saw the birth of Chevrolet through the Chevrolet Motor Company, another effort from William C. Durant –founder of General Motors- by increasing the range of pioneering automotive vehicles. That same year, the first Chevrolet vehicle was created in the city of Detroit. The first Chevrolet design was conceived by Louis Joseph Chevrolet, who until that time was known as a race car driver. Since then his name and creation marked the auto industry forever.
The oldest known Chevrolet model is the 1912 Classic Six. This legendary vehicle was purchased by the Mutual Association Industry, located in the state of Michigan. Afterwards it was donated to the Alfred P. Sloan Panorama of Transportation, which was located in the College and Cultural Center, Flint.
At the end of the year 1913, Louis Chevrolet separated from Billy Durant, granting the rights to continue producing cars with his name. He then moved to Indiana, where he and his younger brothers, Arthur and Gaston, became legends in the traditional Indianapolis 500. The picture shows one of the first models in 1913 that brought with it the legendary "bowtie" logo, designed by Durant.
Before the popular “bowtie emblem”, Louis Joseph Chevrolet used his signature as the emblem in his first models. Just a couple of years later, William C. Durant designed the brand logo, similar to the current one, inspired in a wallpaper which he saw in a Paris Hotel; however, his wife declared after that he had taken it from a Sunday paper.
“Our company policy is to build an excellent engine and sell it at a reasonable price”, this statement by Billy Durant were shown in the Chevrolet public ad in 1915 where the image of the Light Six Series L appeared in its last year of production.
The Chevrolet Four Ninety was known as “The product of experience” in 1916. It was the best equipped model of the time. This was the only model of that period that had a cone clutch and three gears. Four Ninety was a vehicle that offered for the first time “package options”, like electric ignition and lights.
The most outstanding model by Chevrolet in 1917 was the D Series. Billed. This was a popular one thanks to the slogan: “A newer and greater Chevrolet” and for having a v8 engine, the most advanced of the time, with 55HP, 10 more than any other 6 cylinder vehicle.
In 1918, the, Chevrolet 490 Touring was an extremely popular model, furthermore in that year there were modifications that increased public acceptance. Although, the open model depended from gravity for the fuel supply to the carburetor, the closed model was more advanced at this point due to the vacuum fed fuel tank.
The authentic four door sedan was produced by Chevrolet. It belonged to the FB Series and came to its peak point in 1919 when it replaced the two door model. There was more production if this vehicle than its top competitors, while still cheaper than its competitors. The popularity of the four door sedan also came from its ability to seat five.
At the start of the ‘20’s, with guaranteed success, William C. Durant took a risk, which it came to be a great success, to immortalize his name and the brands’: the creation of United Motors. The Durant Building was, by request of the businessman, the larger office complex in the world. Even today his surname initial, “D”, is visible in the corners of the structure. With 15 floors, the enormous construction is known today as the General Motors Building.
Saturday Evening Post, one the most important American magazines of the time, in 1921 published the first Chevrolet ad showing the 490 Tuning model, which held the price of U$S 820; and afterwards it was reduced to U$S 525.
“Perfect for the businessman”, announced the Chevrolet Utility Coupé ad in 1922. The successful campaign assured that selling that classy model any seller would be in the best conditions to close the deal. Priced at $ 680, at the time, seemed little at the wonders that this model promised.
In 1923 the engineering mastermind, Charles Kettering, introduced the Copper Cooled system in a Chevrolet. That years’ model used the same body as the Water-Cooled series, but weighting 215 kilograms less. Chevrolet Copper Cooled model was easily distinguished from other cars for its horizontal grids that replaced the honeycomb radiator.
The new 1924 Chevrolet slogan was “Quality at a low cost”. Although it was simple, that phrase held a privileged place in Chevrolet promotion for many years. The ad showed a four door sedan with a price only comparable to its excellent quality, which is how the slogan “The cheapest high quality car in the world” began.
In 1925 the 100.000th Chevrolet was assembled in the Janesville, Wisconsin plant. That car, which made car history, was an R Series with a 1-ton chassis. That model used the same engine, clutch, transmission and lights that the K Series used.
While most auto companies were focusing on presenting modest economic cars, Chevrolet was advertising in a number of Country Life magazines in 1926, a two door Coach model became the sales leader among models of its kind. Chevrolet’s advertising tried to reach a more exclusive public by the advertisements that were published in the most popular magazines of the time. “The perfect partner to the best car by virtue of its elegant appearance, advanced design and construction quality”.
Chevrolet Coach was still the most popular model in 1927, selling more than the sedan and coupe models. The open vehicles ceased to interest buyers from that time, hence Chevrolet presented a closed model producing 239.566 units. In comparison, the best-selling Touring achieved the modest number of 53,000 units sold. Once again Chevrolet exceeded all expectations.
The 1928 sedan weighed 2,535 kg, 160 kg more than the previous one. This dramatic difference of weight was due to the engine alone, this year using larger valves, aluminum pistons and improved carburetor. Together these changes resulted in 35 horsepower, compared with 26 in the previous model, and were reason enough to offset the increased weight.
“Fun under sun” Chevrolets Coach Convertible ad in 1929, which appeared on June 8th in The Literary Digest magazine when Chevrolet reached another record: 600.000 units sold in less than 5 months. However, the sun was about to hide due to the crisis in October. It would be many years before Chevrolet would have the sales of that time again.
In 1930 Chevrolet produced 7 million vehicles. Its new slogan was “More comfortable, faster, better”. At first sight the models from that decade didn’t change much from the previous years, although after a more exhaustive inspection a many differences were noticed, like an electronic fuel gauge in the dashboard and the size of the tires reduced by an inch.
In 1931, Chevrolet models belonged to the AE Independence Series. With 228,316 units produced, the Coach was twice more popular than the Special Sedan. A significant modification to the engine, relating to the bigger and more attractive models that Chevrolet presented, made Chevrolet again the number 1 company in the market. As a curious fact, in that time the bodywork structure was still made with wood.
In 1932 Chevrolet released, together with the slogan “The great American value”, 21 improvements in its models as an example of its quality and superiority. Most of these points were undeniable, among them the outstanding 6 cylinder engine with 60HP and the possibility of reaching 65/70 mph.
The Silent Synchro-Mesh transmission was introduce in 1932 and eliminated the annoying sound of the shift points by the use of the clutch, these made the gears turn before being activated. Another exclusive feature from Chevrolet was the Starterator system which combined the automatic ignition with the accelerator pedal. The picture shows a 3-Windows Master Series Coupe- the only version that came out of this model, and included all these elements.
“Now you choose the model” was the Chevrolet advertising campaign in 1934, showing 14 vehicles from the Master Deluxe Series, promising a comfortable driving experience and assuring that after 5 miles nobody would be as satisfied with a different cheaper car. The advertising described the advantages of the front Knee Action independent suspension. In that time the grade of driving and stability improve significantly.
Chevrolet adopted the General Motors Turret Top bodywork in 1935, with a metallic roof. The Standard and Master series continued this year, unlike the Roadstar that went out of production, despite being an economic model. The Master series chassis was 113 inches and its lines were more fluid and round than the previous.
The 1936 5 passenger coupe was modified and a trunk was added to the bodywork. The new model was named the Town Sedan. The novelty of this year was the mechanical hydraulic brakes. As for the engine, the displacement was 206.8 cubic inches (3.4 liters) and 80HP. For the first time the bodywork was fully made of metal, which was a great improvement.
In 1937 Chevrolet launched the ad “The complete car, completely new”, with an advanced style and many modern features marking a new stage in its history. Gathering the most important advancements of its time in it vehicles, especially in the aspects of safety and comfort: the independent Knee Action front suspension, secured windows, impact resistant steering, the Super Safe and the hydraulic brakes were an example.
The most important characteristic in the Chevrolet models in 1938 was its new grille. Using more horizontal bars than vertical, designed by Frank Hershey, who also worked on the 1934 Pontiac. Hershey also became famous for designing the two passenger Thunderbirds. In the image we can see the new grille on the master DeLuxe business Coupe, which 36,108 units were sold.
In 1939 the Chevrolet Capot significantly changed the bumper and grille, inspired by some of the characteristics of the Cadillac. This vehicle belonged to the Master Deluxe series. Also in that year the first Station Wagon was released by Chevrolet. It was the most expensive model in its class, the bodywork was made of wood: birch panels and ash structured.
In 1940 the Chevrolet number 25 thousand was made. William S. “Big Bill” Knudsen, General Motors president at the time, was took charge in giving a speech about that record and for the occasion presented the Master DeLuxe Town Sedan model.
The five passenger Special DeLuxe Coupe was, without a doubt, the most acclaimed model of 1941, this peculiar vehicle was known on some occasions as the Club Coupe. It was characterized by it long, symmetrical design. In 1941 Chevrolet also started selling several interior accessories for the car and metallic applications for the bumpers.
The Chevrolet short-term advertising campaign in 1942 showed photos in black and white and the phrase “The best Chevrolet of all time”, and also the questions, “Why pay more?” and “Why accept less?”. This advertising appeared January 10th, 1942 and was one of the last before the production was suspended just a month after due WWII.
The tremendous capacity of the Chevrolet factories became of great importance during the war effort for the USA during WWII. Immediately after war was declared, all plants started producing war artefacts.
In contrast to the dark tone of Chevrolet advertising during the war, in 1946 they returned to the custom of bright colors, natural landscapes and even a more friendly and enthusiastic language. In the image a poster in Collier’s is shown, an example of the magnificent combination of modern photography and art, illustrated by Fred Ludekins. The ad emphasized: “A big car quality at low car cost."
After the war, the public started to demand the Chevrolet models that production had ceased when the company was helping make war supplies. Which is why the company began presenting low-end models, mechanically, were very similar and whose style differences were minimal.
Although production in 1948 was slightly less than in 1947 the Fleetmaster Cabriolet was a quite striking car, in fact, it was chosen to be the pace car that year in Indianapolis 500. That model represented a great deal of sales that year.
The 1949 Chevrolet model was proclaimed to be the “Perfect car for the family”. It was one of the first automobile campaigns directed exclusively to the feminine public and as well as published in the Better Homes and Better Gardens magazine. The ad described the Chevrolet cars as vehicles that are easy to use and comfortable to drive. The series of images used for the campaign was created by the artist John Holmgren.
Visually, only very few differences could be seen between the 1950 models and the previous year. However, productions and sales reached new records during 1950.
Immortalized on the Dinah Shore show, the slogan “See the USA in your Chevrolet” appeared for the first time in the first printed edition of Holiday magazine in 1951. The ads showed Chevrolet models in different places around the world. In the image we can see a four door Styline De Luxe sedan next to the Mississippi river.
1592’s most popular model was the Chevrolet Bel Air, a car completely different from the ones previously released. That year being described as “more beautiful than ever”. It was considered by many as a work of art and Chevrolet claimed its price was “low” compared to all the features it had.
Chevrolet made history again in 1953 when, only five months after its Dream Car exhibition in that year’s Motorama, presented the newest family member: the enigmatic Corvette, an instant classic. This idea came from General Motor’s designer Harley Earl, a race car enthusiastic and Jaguar admirer who wanted to develop a similar car for Chevrolet: the Corvette.
The absence of the De Luxe Two Ten Series in 1954 contributed to the Bel Air sedan’s popularity. Although its style was very similar to the Bel Air Hard Top, its price was more accessible. It was the second most popular Bel Air and Chevrolet’s fourth most sold model of its lines.
“A new engine for a new generation”. In 1995, the powerful V8 engine was launched. The creator said “I’ve worked my entire life on the V8, I live and breathe engines.”. This engine had 265 cubic inches and 162 horsepower. A jewel of the time.
1956 brought with it the second generation of the Corvette: a model with a totally redesigned exterior, more aggressive, with distinctive headlights that were projected forward and a single toothed grille. Of course, it also had a more powerful V8 engine with 210 horsepower. A sports version was launched with a V8 engine: 225 horsepower and two 4-valve carburetors. The impact was such that Corvette reached 3,500 sold units.
In 1957, offering a 236 horsepower vehicle was a tall order for Chevrolet. The ad at that time promised a horsepower per inch thanks to Fuel Injection. A vehicle that met these standards was the convertible Polo Venetian Red: it reached 6,339 units sold.
Chevrolet Impala’s ad first appeared in 1958 on General Motor’s 50th anniversary. This stunning vehicle appeared in most of Chevrolet’s ads of that year. Particularly one showing a close-up of a convertible Impala and as well as a Corvette from behind. This picture was illustrated by Austin Briggs.
Impala’s success was such that in 1959 it was publicized in independent lines with two and four-door bodywork, coupé or convertible. The 1958-desgin changed as well: as you can see in the picture, there is a clear difference between the 1958 and 1959 models.
In 1960, the 4-door Corvair 700 Series became extremely popular. It was equipped with a refrigerated air 6-cyllinder engine and 140 inches of displacement that developed 80 horsepower or 95 in more complete versions. This was a highly luxurious model with a design that stood out. There was a total of 139,208 vehicles of this model.
In 1961, Corvette’s rear end was redesigned incorporating four lights and the grille was replaced with a chromed one. This was a surprise for some, because this year it also reached its production level: 10939 units.
The 60s had just begun and Chevrolet already had a large variety of models, four of them were the most popular ones in General Motor’s range. In 1962, the most popular model was the Chevrolet Nova II Sport Coupe; one of the new Senior Compact was sold most. The Chevrolet Nova was announced in the Saturday Evening Post and was Ford and Chrysler’s direct competition in compact vehicles.
The 1963 Corvette was a huge success since day one. With 21,513 units sold and it represented a third of Chevrolet’s annual income. At that time, convertibles were more popular than coupés. For 237 dollars extra, Corvette offered the option of adding removable roof and lights for the first time used since 1942. Afterwards, they were suppressed.
Chevrolet El Camino was a hybrid that became very popular during the 60s thanks to its unique design, a mix between car and truck. El Camino had already been seeing high numbers at the end of the 50s although production had ceased for three years, the 1963 model had a great acceptance due to its renovated seats and rear dashboards similar to the ones the SS model had.
Chevrolet models’ appearance drastically changed in 1965: the bodywork became longer, with softer lines, curved windows, body fenders, and pronounced dashboards. The Impala shown in the picture has an entirely new front end and the grille design has enlarged rectangles.
By 1966, Chevrolet Impala was a celebrity due to its TV appearances in American shows such as “The Man from U.N.C.L.E”. It became a movie star when it became one of James Bond’s official cars, although it seemed impossible for the super agent to go unnoticed with a Chevrolet Impala.
Camaro’s ad in 1967 consisting of showing all 5 members of the Chevrolet family with its newest member at front: the Camaro Sport. During only its first year, a total of 220,917 unit of an American classic were produced, an impressive figure for the time.
Corvette fans appreciated the new design of the 1968 model: a brand-new red convertible. The picture shows the designer in charge of such feat: Bill Mitchell, who was also in charge of the controversial concept car the Mako Shark II. The 1968 redesign is what gave Corvette its radical look.
In 1969 Chevrolet’s latest air refrigeration model rolled off the assembly line. That year, 6,000 2-door models were produced such as the Chevrolet 500, Monza and the convertible Monza.
The second generation of the Camaro was presented on February, 26th 1970, only three years after the first generation and remained on the market for 11 years, until 1981. Camaro left its old image behind along with its convertible bodywork.
Although Chevrolet spent most of its budget on promoting the Caprice and Monte Carlo, the new subcompact Vega (the smallest Chevrolet until that time) appeared in the most popular magazines in 1971 accompanied by a slogan that said “A small car that grows with you”.
In 1972, with 24,000 unidades produced, the Chevelle Malibu Sport Sedan became very popular it is second generation. There was a standard version of this vehicle with a V8 engine and 130 horsepower and a SS version as well. However, this version never reached the first generation’s ales.
The new Chevelle premiered a new look in 1973 when Chevrolet was trying to boost medium-size car sales, especially on 4-door sedans. The initiative had great results and Chevelle Laguna became the vehicle that set the bar for the future of Chevrolet.
The 1974 Camaro Z-28 included a standard V8 engine, a heavy duty radiator, double exhaust, black grille, and a sport suspension with shocks, white wall tires and rear spoilers. All these elements gave the car a better performance, priced at just 572 dollars.
1975 was an excellent year for the Corvette line: the sales went from 1,000 to 58,465 units. It was also the last year Corvette was offered as a convertible model due to safety measures adopted by the American Automotive Industry. An impact absorption system was added to both front and rear bumpers.
The subcompact Chevrolet Chevette was the smallest car that offered a air filtration system. It became America’s star car due to its fresh design and affordable price. The bodywork was modified and replaced with a more modern one and it got some retouches in the distribution belts and in the ignition which made the vehicle faster, lighter and even more efficient.
Caprice Classic became the Chevrolet banner in 1977. It was one of the most successful vehicle campaigns in history thanks to its redesign which also redefined the complete and compact vehicle concept. The ad simply said “The new Chevrolet”. This model provided great profits to the company.
Featuring scenes of people enjoying picnics and parties, TV commercials were used as a part of Chevrolet’s campaign in 1978 that said: “Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet”. This meant Chevrolet was a national pride. The Malibu Classic ad featured in the image has the slogan: “A fresh slice of apple pie”.
The Chevrolet Monza’s exterior had not suffered any modifications until 1978. However, in 1979 this model was enhanced with a newer and more powerful 2.5-liter engine, four cylinders and better protection against corrosion.
Malibu Coupe kept the look that made it so popular until 1980. It appearance was completely different from the also successful Monte Carlo, yet they both shared the same engineering.
At the beginning of the 80s, Chevrolet engineers worked on ways of saving fuel. In order to do so, they reduced the resistance in the front disc brake in full size models of the time.
Other changes introduced at that time were the 4-speed manual transmission and the 3-speed automatic transmission and for the first time in Chevrolet history used front wheel drive.
In 1982 the third generation Corvette was created with a Cross-Fire Injection system. For the first time since 1954, all Corvettes had automatic transmissions and also featured the first 200-horsepower V8 engine. During the decade, the sports design suffered some profound changes, leaving the plain shapes aside in order to hold a more muscled and voluptuous shape.
Although it kept the style, in 198, the 1983 Monte Carlo had the most important sales records on the market. The only change it suffered was the grille redesign, which gave the model a bolder look.
The 1984 Monte Carlo SS Mexican version had bucket seats, standard transmission, aluminum wheels and a wooden Italian designed Bertini steering wheel. It did not have the standard spoiler either. It had a combination of electric locks and manual windows. The American or Canadian versions were available in blue or white, and had the graphics and lines of the SS.
Chevrolet Sprint was first exhibited in California in 1985. This model stood out on the market because of its A/C, AM/FM radio, stereo and cassette. The exterior and its sports design caught everyone’s eyes.
This picture shows an ad that appeared in 1986 Paradise magazine and shows a Caprice Classic at the top of the Castle Rock in Utah. It was a nostalgic allusion to a Chevrolet TV commercial that showed the famous Convertible Impala at the same landscape. The ad read “Today is Chevrolet”.
Corvette’s coupé and convertible models underwent profound changes in 1987. Chevrolet was still in the search of reducing the engine friction in order to create a better performance. This change finally happened in 1987, which also helped increasing Corvette’s horsepower to 240.
50 identical Corvettes were manufactured in honor to the Corvette Challenge, a race sponsored by the Sports Car Club of America. It gathered America’s 50 to race car drivers to compete with the special Corvette edition.
The 1989 Chevrolet Pick Up sets and important part in the brand’s history. This C/K series’ fourth generation not only meant work transportation but also set a new lifestyle. This status change gave the pick-up a sports package. By the time that this model was released, the fourth generation of the C/K series not meant only work transportation, but also adapted to a person’s lifestyle. Because of this a sports package was offered.
Chevrolet began the 90s with the “Now and Forever” motto. Their vehicles were prepared for any kind of situation, including adventures. This led to a renewed Chevrolet Cheyenne Hunter, México’s sports pick-up truck. Its steel wheels, distinctive molding, double-headlight and powerful grille proved that Chevrolet Hunter was the image of a Chevrolet that was ready for anything and everything.
The basic Vitara makes its first appearance; a model that is still being assembled today
Rodeo and Esteem models are launched.
Chevrolet reaches a historical record of 52% in market presence.
The Chevrolet Ecuador assembly plant celebrates it 30th anniversary.
GM-OBB begins with the “Competitive Management Model” (MGC) together with the Andean Fomentation Corporation (CAF) and the Total Quality Ecuadorian Corporation (CECT) for all local auto parts suppliers in order to improve Chevrolet vehicles’ quality.
GM-OBB assembles the 400,000th unit.
Chevrolet implements the Designated Driver Social Responsibility Program with the purpose of reducing the amount of accidents caused by intoxicated drivers.
GM-OBB reaches its maximum daily production of 222 units.
® Chevrolet 2012 General Motors of Mexico, S. de R.L. de C.V.
*Images shown in this website are for illustrative purposes only