Friday, June 3, 2011

Goodbye GM, Lifeline Photos

General Motors Corporation was founded in 1908 by William Durant. GM made a history, GM was the global sales leader for 77 consecutive calendar years from 1931 to 2007. It manufactured cars and trucks in 34 countries. But global economic crises, GM policies and US recession brought end of GM.
General Motors filed for a government-assisted Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on June 1, 2009, with a plan to re-emerge as a smaller and less debt-burdened organization in several months. The chapter 11 petition was filed in the federal court in Manhattan, New York. The filing reported US$82.29 billion in assets and US$172.81 billion in debt. As ranked by total assets, the bankruptcy is the fourth-largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, following Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., Washington Mutual, and WorldCom Inc.

GM rusting
This old car body at Gilmore, Idaho seemed to represent the battered state of the largest US automaker. :( photo by James Neeley

GM founder William Durant. GM initially held only the Buick Motor Company but by 1929 it had aquired several others including Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Oakland (now known as Pontiac) and Germany’s Opel.
GM continued to expand in 1920s and 1930s with the strategy “a car for every purse and purpose”.
The Buick Y Job was the first concept car, leading the other automakers to build the concept cars to guage public opinion.
Workers in the GM plant in Flint, Michigan started a sit-down strike in December 1936, organized by the newly formed United Auto Workers Union. The strike ended on 11 February 1937 when GM finally recongnized the UAW.
1940: The Buick Series 50 super four-door sedan.
1945: View of a streamlined train buffet coach resting on tracks outside a General Motors factory.
1945: A family gather around a Chevrolet that is parked in front of a garage.
1946: Pontiac Torpedo cars near completion on the production line at Pontiac, Michigan
1949: W F Armstrong, General Manager of Chevrolet and T H Keating, General Sales Manager of Chevrolet, stand next to the 22,000,000th Chevrolet.
In the 1950s GM was not only the biggest US car maker but it was the biggest company of any kind in USA. Its luxury brand Cadillac grew in popularity.
1951 Buick Le Sabre sports car.
1954: A man leaning on his Buick, trying to draw the attention of a young woman passing by.
General Motors’ experimental gas turbine powered vehicle, the XP-21 Firebird. This car was very much inspired by innovations in fighter aircraft design at the time. None of the designs were intended for production, but instead were to showcase the extremes in technology and design that General Motors was able to achieve.
Firebird II
The Firebird II, which was a highlight of General Motor’s 1956 Motorama, is the family firebird. A four-seater with a titanium body, the Firebird II features a 200-horsepower Whirlfire GT-304 gas turbine engine, all-power accessories and a fully integrated air conditioning system, similar to current systems found in cars today. The Firebird II was GM’s attempt to make a luxury turbine powered vehicle with acceptable performance and fuel economy.
1958: Promotional image of a couple laughing while posing behind an XP-700 1958 Corvette by Chevrolet. The automobile featured a conventional chassis with a fiberglass body.
The 1962 Chevrolet Impala.
In 1964 GM introduced the Pontiac GTO “muscle car”.
GM designed and built the mobility system for the Lunar Roving Vehicle, AKA the Lunar Rover or (my favorite) the Moon Buggy. The rover was first successfully used during the Apollo 15 mission. In a true GM moment, however, during the next mission, the rover’s rear fender fell off! The astronauts had to make an emergency replacement fender out of maps, duct tape, and clamps.
GM launched its first sports car with Chevrolet Corvette in 1953. Thousands of people gathered in Nashville, Tennessee in June 2003 to celebrate car’s 50th anniversary.
1970: Robotic welding equipment on the Chevrolet Vega production line in action. The automatic welding equipment places 95% of the 3,900 welds on each Vega body.
1988 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z convertible.
1988 Camaro Sport Coupe.
Short-lived EV1 electric car.
Schwarzenegger with Hummer
2000: Arnold Schwarzenegger opses with a Hummer at the premiere of The 6th Day in Los Angeles.
In 1990s GM made a push in SUV market. However in 2008 rising oil prices led to decline in SUV sales at 30%.
1 June 2009: A man walks into United States Bankruptcy Court in lower Manhattan as General Motors files for bankruptcy.


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