Thursday September 16, 2021’s Smile of the Day: General Motors
On this Day:
In 1908, carriage-maker, William C. Durant, founded General Motors in Flint, Michigan.
General Motors Company (GM) is an American automotive multinational corporation headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, United States. It was founded by William C. Durant on September 16, 1908, as a holding company, and the present entity was established in 2009 after its restructuring. The company is the largest American automobile manufacturer and one of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers.
At its peak, GM had a 50% market share in the United States and was the world’s largest automaker from 1931 through 2007. As of 2021, General Motors is ranked number 22 on the Fortune 500 rankings of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.
General Motors manufactures vehicles in several countries; its four core automobile brands are Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac. It also either owns or holds a significant stake in foreign brands such as Wuling, Baojun, and Jiefang. Annual worldwide sales volume reached a milestone of 10 million vehicles in 2016.
In addition to its twelve brands, General Motors holds a 20% stake in IMM, and a 77% stake in GM Korea. It also has a number of joint-ventures, including Shanghai GM, SAIC-GM-Wuling, and FAW-GM in China, GM Uzbekistan, General Motors India, General Motors Egypt, and Isuzu Truck South Africa. General Motors employs 212,000 people and does business in more than 140 countries. General Motors is divided into four business segments: GM North America (GMNA), GM International Operations (GMIO), Cruise, and GM Financial.
The company also operates a mobility division called Maven, which operates car-sharing services in the United States, and is studying alternatives to individual vehicle ownership.
GM Defense is General Motors’ military defense division, catering to the needs of the military for advanced technology and propulsion systems for military vehicles.
General Motors led global annual vehicle sales for 77 consecutive years from 1931 through 2007, longer than any other automaker, and is still among the world’s largest automakers by vehicle unit sales.
General Motors acts in most countries outside the U.S. via wholly owned subsidiaries, but operates in China through ten joint ventures. GM’s OnStar subsidiary provides vehicle safety, security and information services.
In 2009, General Motors shed several brands, closing Saturn, Pontiac, and Hummer, and emerged from a government-backed Chapter 11 reorganization. In 2010, the reorganized GM made an initial public offering that was one of the world’s top five largest IPOs to date, and returned to profitability later that year.
William C. Durant’s Durant-Dort Carriage Company, of Flint, Michigan, had become the leading manufacturer of horse-drawn vehicles in the United States by 1900. Durant was averse to automobiles, but fellow Flint businessman James H. Whiting, owner of Flint Wagon Works, sold him the Buick Motor Company in 1904. Durant formed the General Motors Company in 1908 as a holding company, with partner Charles Stewart Mott, borrowing a naming convention from General Electric. GM’s first acquisition was Buick, which Durant already owned, then Oldsmobile on November 12, 1908. In 1909 Durant brought in Cadillac, Elmore, Welch, Cartercar, Oakland (predecessor of Pontiac), and the Reliance Motor Truck Company of Owosso, Michigan and the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company of Pontiac, Michigan (predecessors of GMC). Durant, with the board’s approval, tried acquiring Ford Motor Company in 1909. Durant over-leveraged the fledgling company in making these acquisitions, and was removed by the board of directors in 1910 at the behest of the bankers who backed the loans to keep GM in business. The action of the bankers was partially influenced by the brief Panic of 1910–1911 that followed the earlier enforcement of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890.
Durant re-entered the automotive industry the following year by co-founding the Chevrolet Motor Company with Swiss race car driver Louis Chevrolet (who left the company bearing his name in 1915). In 1916 GM was reincorporated in Detroit as General Motors Corporation. By 1917 the Chevrolet Motor Company had become successful enough that Durant, with the backing of Samuel McLaughlin and Pierre S. du Pont, reacquired a controlling interest in GM. Chevrolet Motor Company was consolidated into GM on May 2, 1918. Only two years later du Pont orchestrated the removal of Durant once again and replaced him with Alfred P. Sloan.
Sloan established annual styling changes, making previous years’ models “dated”. He also implemented the pricing strategy that all car companies use today. The pricing strategy had Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick, and Cadillac priced from least expensive to most, respectively.
General Motors grew in prominence surpassing Ford Motors selling just over 50% of car sales in 1962.
General Motors also manufactured products other than cars and trucks, such as aircraft (North American Aviation), construction equipment (Terex), trains (Electro-Motive Diesel), farm tractors (Samson Tractor/Janesville Machine Co.), truck and boat engines (Detroit Diesel and Allison Engine Company, and appliances (Frigidaire) (per Wikipedia).
First, a Story:
An old-slow snail decides one day that he has had enough of the townsfolk belittling him for his pace. He spends about three-days making his way over to the Car-Dealership so that he can buy himself a sports car.
While at the dealership he asks the salesman if they will customize his Corvette for him. The Salesman replies, “Sure! What can we do for you!?”
The snail replies, “I would like you to paint a big, red “S” on the side of my car?”
The salesman says, confused, “Of course we can.”
The customization is done and the Salesman turns to the Snail and says, “We’re all finished, but I have to ask—While looking through your information I couldn’t find any reason why you would want an ‘S’ on your car—Your first or last name doesn’t start with ‘S’, So–Why the heck did you want that ‘S’ on your car?!”
The Snail turns to him and replies gently- ” For years I have been tormented by the people of my town, and now I’ll get to fly by them in my fancy sports-car, and they’ll all say: ‘Wow! Look at that ‘S’ Car go!”
Second, a Song:
According to https://www.hotcars.com/best-gm-vehicles-ever-made/, the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray was the best GM vehicle ever made.
“The ’60s and early ’70s were happy times when you could expect just enough technology in cars, unlike modern days when new vehicles are stuffed with tech but lack soul. Conversely, the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray was a combination of the right amount of soul and tech.
It is considered the best American sports car design of its time. Recognized by its characteristic split-window, the original Sting Rays were produced by GM for just four years as the American equivalent of expensive European cars.”
George Glenn Jones (September 12, 1931 – April 26, 2013) was an American musician, singer, and songwriter. He achieved international fame for his long list of hit records, including his best-known song “He Stopped Loving Her Today”, as well as his distinctive voice and phrasing. For the last two decades of his life, Jones was frequently referred to as the greatest living country singer. Country music scholar Bill Malone writes, “For the two or three minutes consumed by a song, Jones immerses himself so completely in its lyrics, and in the mood it conveys, that the listener can scarcely avoid becoming similarly involved.” Waylon Jennings expressed a similar opinion in his song “It’s Alright”: “If we all could sound like we wanted to, we’d all sound like George Jones.” The shape of his nose and facial features earned Jones the nickname “The Possum”.
Born in Texas, Jones first heard country music when he was seven, and was given a guitar at the age of nine. He married his first wife, Dorothy Bonvillion, in 1950, and was divorced in 1951. He served in the United States Marine Corps and was discharged in 1953. He married Shirley Ann Corley in 1954. In 1959, Jones recorded “White Lightning”, written by J. P. Richardson, which launched his career as a singer. His second marriage ended in divorce in 1968; he married fellow country music singer Tammy Wynette a year later. Years of alcoholism compromised his health and led to his missing many performances, earning him the nickname “No Show Jones”. After his divorce from Wynette in 1975, Jones married his fourth wife, Nancy Sepulvado, in 1983 and became sober for good in 1999. Jones died in 2013, aged 81, from hypoxic respiratory failure.
George Jones has been called “The Rolls Royce Of Country Music” and had more than 160 chart singles to his name from 1955 until his death in 2013. Johnny Cash once said, “When people ask me who my favorite country singer is, I say, ‘You mean besides George Jones?'” (per Wikipedia).
“The One I Loved Back Then (The Corvette Song)” is a song written by Gary Gentry, and recorded by American country music singer George Jones. It was released September 1985 as the second single from the album Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes. The song peaked at number three on the Hot Country Singles.
The song focuses on man’s fascination with fast cars and beautiful women, and certain “similarities” between the two, which is a common theme in old blues and rock and roll recordings. The narrator and his girlfriend are out for a leisure drive (in the singer’s Corvette) when they stop at a convenience store to purchase beer and cigarettes. As the singer pays for his merchandise, the store clerk, supposedly noticing the singer’s Corvette parked outside, tells the singer how he had one just like it in 1963 but it was taken away from him by “the man down at the bank” (supposedly the loan officer who repossessed his car). In the second verse, the singer offers the clerk his keys and offers him a chance to “take her for a spin,” thinking the clerk is talking about his car. Clarifying the singer’s misinterpretation, the clerk informs the singer that it’s not the car he is talking about, but the singer’s girlfriend, who is waiting out in the car.
The song was a fixture in Jones’ live set in the 1980s and 1990s and appears on the 1999 LP Live with the Possum (per Wikipedia).
Here is the greatest country singer George Jones singing about the greatest GM car ever made, the Corvette, in The Corvette Song. I hope you enjoy this!
Thought for the Day:
“I took my $100,000 and bought a new Corvette, a lot of cocaine, and spent the rest on foolishness.” — George Jones
Further to the Hadrian’s Wall Smile, Frank Fowlie of Richmond, BC, Canada and I had a wee email exchange:
“The two scots likely also had a bottle of whisky with them. Great joke
BTW a the actual premise of Hadrian’s wall was to keep the English out of Scotland
Dr. Frank Fowlie”
Wasn’t that to keep the Scots out of England???
“No history has got it all wrong
We Scots do not want the English
Dr. Frank Fowlie”
Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky