Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE INTERVIEW

Exclusive: Israel's US ambassador speaks to FRANCE 24

Read more

#THE 51%

World War One: The war that changed women’s lives

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Ségolène Royal goes for green

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

A look back at some of the Observers' best stories

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults: Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds' (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults: Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds'

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola death toll tops 700

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Dozens of youths trampled to death on Conakry beach

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Renault's women drivers ad deemed sexist

Read more

  • Exclusive: Israel's US ambassador speaks to FRANCE 24

    Read more

  • Live: Israeli soldier feared captured, ceasefire 'over'

    Read more

  • Ugandan court strikes down anti-gay legislation

    Read more

  • Regional summit to tackle deadly Ebola outbreak

    Read more

  • French hospital to open wine bar for terminally ill patients

    Read more

  • €2.5 million in cocaine ‘disappears’ from Paris police HQ

    Read more

  • Appeal court keeps French rogue trader Kerviel in jail

    Read more

  • Air France ground workers to strike on August 2

    Read more

  • Interactive: France’s new plan to counter jihadism in Africa

    Read more

  • Ukrainian army suffers losses in separatist attack

    Read more

  • Dozens killed and injured in Taiwan gas blast

    Read more

  • Argentinian markets plummet following default

    Read more

  • French Jews speak of growing fear in Paris amid Gaza conflict

    Read more

  • Video: Inside Hamas ‘terror’ tunnels in Gaza

    Read more

  • Sierra Leone declares state of emergency over spread of Ebola

    Read more

General Motors, a century of American classics

Text by Emmanuel SAINT-MARTIN

Latest update : 2008-12-10

As General Motors celebrates its 100th anniversary on Tuesday, FRANCE 24 looks back at some of the classics the American automaker has released through the years.

Read also:  Will the Volt be GM's saviour?

 

General Motors Corp. celebrates its centennial on Tuesday – but it’s not a very happy birthday. Today the venerable automaker is consumed by uncertainty. GM’s hegemony belongs to the past, and now it sees its market share dropping. The company’s losses from the last three years are approaching $70 billion. All hopes are now on the Volt, expected to be unveiled this week.


It was on September 16, 1908 that William Crapo Durant incorporated the five-year-old Buick into General Motors. Twenty-three years later, GM’s US sales passed those of Ford. In 1962, the GM's domestic market share peaked, at 51%, its integrity threatened even then by antitrust laws. Then came the gas crisis of the 1970s, the onset of Japanese competitors and ballooning pension costs for GM workers.


Here are a few of the GM cars that marked the 20th century, from an era when Detroit led the world in car design and innovation:
 

 


Photo credit: GM.


Chevrolet Corvette (1953). Launched in 1953, the Corvette was the first two-seats sports car produced by GM. It was the brain child of Harley Earl, a longtime GM designer who felt it was time to build a European-style sports car for the US market. Fifty-five years later GM still produces the Corvette, now in its sixth generation, the C6.

 

 


Photo credit: See below (1). 

Cadillac Coupe deVille (1960)
. Launched in 1949, the Coupe deVille was the first hardtop Cadillac. The famous extravagant fins were added at the third generation, in 1959. By the 1980s, deVilles had become much less pretty, and the 11th generation was halted in 1993.

 

 


Photo credit: GM. 

Chevrolet Camaro (1966).
Designed as a competor to the Ford Mustang and released in 1966, the Camaro was one of the best known “muscle cars”, a hit in the 1970s. The Camaro was discontinued in 2002. A new model is expected in 2009.

 

 


Photo credit: GM. 

Hummer (1992). The Hummer became a symbol of the 1990s, the “SUV decade”, and its false hopes for the American automotive industry. Based on the military Humvee, the Hummer was launched in 1992 and bought from AM General Corporation to GM six years later. Due to very poor fuel economy, Hummer sales have been declining over the last few years. GM executives might decide to either sell or even kill the brand.

 

(1) Copyright:
Copyright (C) 2000,2001,2002 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
51 Franklin St, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301 USA
Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies
of this license document, but changing it is not allowed

Date created : 2008-09-15

COMMENT(S)