A Brief History of Chevrolet

Chevrolet is an automaker known for its long history of making quality cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs. 

General Motors founder William Durant and Buick race car driver Louis Chevrolet co-founded Louis’ namesake company in Detroit, Michigan, on November 3, 1911. Since then, Chevrolet has produced and sold more than 200 million cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs, and continues to be a big name in the auto industry.

The Early Years and the Classic Six

Durant founded General Motors in 1908. Durant acquired multiple carmakers including Cadillac, Oldsmobile, and Oakland Motors Cars (Pontiac) as well as parts and paint companies. Subsequently, he was let go from his own company in 1910 due to a cash shortage after multiple acquisitions. His vision was to operate a large automobile company with different marques as well as parts manufacturers under one roof.

The first Chevrolet built was the Series C Classic Six. With a 6-cylinder engine, the Classic Six was large, luxurious, powerful (spouting 40 hp), and costly, priced at $2,150. Henry Ford’s infamous Model T, which was one-third of the price of the Classic Six, had already been on the market for three years when the Classic Six debuted.

Louis Chevrolet was happy with the luxurious design, sophistication, and assembly of the Classic Six, but Durant wanted to make vehicles more affordable so the general population could afford them. By 1913, Louis decided to leave the company, selling his shares to Durant, but allowing his name to be used. A few years later, Durant became President of General Motors, and placed the Chevrolet company under the GM brand.

Chevy: Quality for Everyone

By 1920, Chevrolet was the third most popular automotive brand in the United States, after Ford and Dodge. Then in 1927, for the first time, Chevy took over the No. 1 spot from Ford, selling more than 1 million vehicles. In the midst of World War II, Chevrolet halted consumer car production in 1942 to focus efforts solely on vehicles for military use, and restarted consumer production in 1945.

Today, the Chevrolet brand continues to focus on quality, safety, innovation, and giving back to local and global communities. The American marque produces roughly 2.6 million vehicles each year. 

The Bowtie Logo

First introduced in an advertisement in 1913, the iconic Chevrolet bowtie logo officially debuted in 1914 on the Royal Mail Roadster. There are some different takes on how the bowtie logo came into existence, even though Durant himself confirmed the story that it was inspired by a wallpaper design in a Parisian hotel.

An official company publication celebrating Chevrolet’s 50th anniversary in 1961 stated that Durant “tore off a piece of wallpaper and kept it to show friends, with the thought that it would make a good nameplate for a car.”

Read more about the iconic nameplate’s history here.

Chevrolet Car and Truck Debuts

1912: Series C Classic Six debuts as the first vehicle manufactured by Chevrolet. 

1914: The Royal Mail Roadster is the first car to bear the Chevy bowtie logo.

1915: Model 490 debuts as the first “value-priced Chevrolet, priced at $490.

1918: First Chevrolet truck debuts.

1929: Chevrolet Six debuts (touted as six cylinders for the price of four, which is what most other manufacturers were selling).

1935: Chevrolet introduces the first SUV on the market, the Suburban Carryall.

1953: The ever-popular Corvette debuts (still the most popular vehicle in the Chevy lineup).

1955: Cameo Carrier pickup truck debuts with a unique cargo box.

1957: The year of the iconic ‘57 Chevy Bel Air.

1958: The Bel Air IMpala debuts as top-of-the-line Bel Air hardtops and convertibles. 

1959: The El Camino pickup debuts on the full-size sedan chassis. The 1960 model Corvair debuts.

1963: The Corvette Sting Ray split-window coupe comes to market.

1964: The Chevelle and Malibu debut.

1967: The Camaro debuts (a competitor to the Ford Mustang).

1970: The Monte Carlo luxury coupe debuts.

1988: Chevy’s first new full-size pickups since 1973 debut with extended cabs added on the assembly line.

1995: Chevy Express full-size van debuts. 

1997: Venture minivan debuts. 

1999: Silverado truck debuts. 

2001: TrailBlazer mid-size SUV debuts. Avalanche truck debuts. 

2008: Traverse debuts, replacing the TrailBlazer. 

2009: The Chevy Cruze compact car debuts.

2011: Chevrolet Volt electric car debuts. Camaro convertible debuts. 

2017: Bolt, the all-electric subcompact, debuts. 

About CalTrend

CalTrend is a leading manufacturer of custom car seat covers, 100% made in America. CalTrend offers a large selection of materials such as Leather, Leatherette, NeoPrene, NeoSupreme, and more. We specialize in custom seat covers for Chevrolet vehicles, as well as Dodge, Ford, GMC, Honda, Jeep, Ram, and Toyota. Search by Vehicle.

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