Before being acquired by General Motors (GM) in 1918, the history of Chevrolet started in 1911 with Louis Chevrolet. He was an automotive engineer and Swiss race car driver with a vision of creating his own company.
He became friends with William C. Durant who was the co-founder of General Motors. When Durant was terminated from his company, Louis and William founded the company in Detroit. The rest, as they say, is history.
Noteworthy Moments in Chevy History
1914: The Royal Mail Roadster appeared, making it the first car wearing the Chevy bowtie logo. The Chevy Model 490 debuted as a 1916 model and sells for a whopping price of $490. Being a “value-priced” Chevy, it was put in direct competition with Henry Ford’s Model T.
1918: Chevrolet introduced its first truck, based on the Model 490 car chassis. This year also saw Chevrolet become part of General Motors.
1934: Chevy introduced the “knee action” independent front suspension on its 1935 model Master Series, which was revolutionary engineering at the time.
1935: Chevrolet introduced the first original SUV, the Suburban Carryall, which invented a new segment. Suburban would go on to be the longest-running continual nameplate in the industry.
1942: Because of the war, production of civilian Chevrolets stopped, but production of trucks for military use continued.
1948: The all-new “Advance Design” pickup trucks were introduced, and would eventually become the design inspiration for 2003-2006 Chevy SSR.
1950: When the Powerglide transmission debuts on 1950 models, Chevy becomes the first manufacturer to offer an automatic transmission on a low-priced American car.
1955: The all-new 1955 Chevrolet debuted on Chevy’s legendary small-block V8.
1957: Chevy introduced fuel injection as an option on some Chevys and Corvettes®. This was a first for an American production car, while at the same time, Chevy trucks offer four-wheel drive for the first time.
1959: The car-based El Camino pickup debuted, as did the Corvair, the first and only American car boasting a rear-mounted, air-cooled, six-cylinder engine.
1964: The Chevelle debuted, touted as an “intermediate” car that fit between the full-size Chevys and the compact Chevy Nova.
1967: Chevy’s answer to the Ford Mustang? The Camaro, which debuted this year.
1970: The 450-hp 1970 Chevelle SS 454 debuted, as did the “personal luxury coupe” Monte Carlo. The Monte Carlo’s 6-foot-long hood made it the car with the longest hood in Chevy history.
1986: The “Heartbeat of America” ad campaign was introduced.
1991: In what has become an iconic ad, Chevy trucks launch a new campaign based on the Bob Seger song, “Like A Rock.”
1992: The millionth Corvette is built.
2009: The fastest and most powerful production car in GM history debuted — the 638-hp Corvette ZR1.
2010: The Chevy Camaro, which had been discontinued after the 2002 model year, is reborn and would go on to outsell Ford’s Mustang.
2011: The Chevrolet brand celebrated its 100th birthday on Nov. 3, 2011, the same year the Chevrolet Volt “extended range” electric car debuted.
2012: Chevrolet released the Chevy Corvette Centennial Edition.