Contact us when you are serious about buying or selling a fine Chevrolet Motor Car.
We typically handle the following Chevrolets'
Pre-War: Confederate, Standard & Master Six & Independence
Post-War: Monte Carlo, Camaro, Corvette & Firenza Can Am
We buy, sell, broker, locate, consign and appraise exceptional classic, sports and collector Chevrolets'
To arrange a free and confidential valuation with a view to selling, Contact Us.
Though the car that bore his name became America's best-selling make in 1929, Louis-Joseph "Louis" Chevrolet had remarkably little to do with its success.
As an engineer with a taste for high quality, he was probably somewhat chagrined to be associated with such a low-cost, volume-production car.
Precision engineering was in his blood, since Louis Chevrolet, who was born on Christmas Day, 1878, was the second son of a Swiss watchmaker.
In the mid 1880s, the family emigrated from La Chaux-de-Fonds, in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel, to Beaune, in the heart of the Burgundy wine-growing country in France.
Young Louis's first job on leaving school was in the wine cellars, where he showed his latent engineering skills by devising a new type of pump for transferring the wine from vat to vat.
Soon, however, he was working for a local cycle shop and racing bicycles for pin-money.
Chevrolet subsequently decided to make the motor industry his career, and travelled to Paris, and worked for Mors and De Dion Bouton before emigrating to Canada in 1900 with his brother Arthur.
Neither Quebec nor Montreal had anything to offer Chevrolet, and soon he was working for the New York branch of De Dion Bouton. When this company folded, he joined the Hol-Tan company, an importing agency run by partners called Hollander and Tangeman.
They specialized in the better Italian cars like Fiat and, later, Lancia. Here Louis had his first opportunity to try a racing car, a 1905 Fiat, setting up a new mile record at the Morris Park racetrack.
This was the first of many successes, and brought him to the attention of motor magnate Billy Durant, who was then in the process of organising what would become General Motors.
Durant invited both Arthur and Louis Chevrolet to show their paces in an impromptu dirt-track race behind the Buick factory in Flint, Michigan. Louis won, Arthur was offered the job of chauffeuring Durant, and both brothers were asked to join the Buick works racing team.
Louis soon became established as one of America's leading racing drivers, winning several long-distance events in 1909; the same year, he led the Vanderbilt Cup race until eight laps from the finish, when a broken steering connection forced his retirement.
This was just one of the many crashes in his 15-year racing career, during which he is estimated to have spent an aggregate of three years in hospital recovering from injuries he had received on the track.
In 1910, Louis Chevrolet persuaded Durant that a market existed for an European-type light car. What transpired is unclear. Louis said Durant agreed to partner in the design and building of a passenger car. Durant had a different story.
Durant liked to use the Chevrolet name, his next job was to find a car that was worthy of it. Hence, William C. Durant founded the Chevrolet Motor Car Company with investors William Little and Dr. Edwin R. Campbell. Louis would not be a partner but rather an employee reporting to Bill Little.
The design for the first Chevy, the Series C Classic Six was drawn up by Etienne Planche on 15 March 1911 at a garage premises at number 707, later 3939 Grand River Avenue, Detroit. It appears that the small second story space above the garage was used for new engine design and construction only.
Prototypes of the Chevrolet were produced in what would today be called a pilot plant in the 1145, West Grand Boulevard Plant that was used between August 1911 and August 1913.
By November 3, 1911 The Chevrolet Motor Car Company entered the turbulent automobile market. However, only two years later Chevrolet parted company with General Motors after a blazing row with Durant, which hinged on the fact that Billy wanted to turn the Chevrolet into a cheap model to rival the Model T Ford, while Louis planned it as a low-volume quality car.
However, Louis Chevrolet wasn't out of the motor industry for long: in 1914, he formed his own company, the Frontenac Motor Company, building four and eight-cylinder racing cars. He also designed the Cornelian cyclecar for the Blood Brothers Machine Company.
The Frontenac cars were built in the Monroe Car Factory in Indianapolis; and it was at Indianapolis that the Monroe-Frontenacs gained their most impressive victories. Though Louis drove there, he was dogged by mechanical failures, and his best performance was seventh in the 1919 '500'.
It was his young brother, Gaston though, born in 1892, whose meteoric career was crowned by victory at Indianapolis. Gaston, who had followed his brothers to America, first appeared as a racing driver in 1917 but was suspended after a few months for taking part in non-sanctioned races.
Back in action, he came tenth in the 1919 Indy, won several major track events and then won the 1920 Indianapolis by over six minutes without even stopping to change a tire .
A few months later, in a board-track race in California, young Gaston was involved in a crash with another competitor. Both cars burst into flames, and their drivers received fatal injuries.
Louis Chevrolet was so deeply affected that he gave up racing; but now he moved into the booming go-faster market, building special cylinder heads to hot up Model T Fords.
And it was the Chevrolet-modified 'Fronty-Fords' that dominated dirt-track racing during the 1920s. In 1929, Chevrolet began work on aircraft engines, but the Depression put an end to this venture and, by 1933, he had been forced to take a job as an ordinary mechanic with the Chevrolet Motor Company.
He gave this up the following year, after his son, Charles, died. From then on, his life was dogged by disaster after disaster, including the loss of all his designs and drawings in a fire at his sister's house.
Though he managed to find work as an engineering consultant during the 1930s, Louis Chevrolet's health was breaking down under an incurable illness. He died on 6 June 1941, and was buried beside his brother Gaston, at Indianapolis.
Louis Chevrolet's motto was "never give up!", and his name is thought to be a derivation of the French words for goat's milk : chèvre (goat) & lait (milk).
We buy, sell, broker, locate, consign and appraise exceptional classic, sports and collector automobiles, arrange transport, customs formalities and registration.
Jaguar, Ferrari and Maserati expertise, though our collection includes a wide variety of other superior antique, vintage, prewar and race cars.
Contact us when you are serious about owning or selling a fine classic motor car or motorcycle. Geneva, Switzerland-based, we serve clients world-wide.