President and Chief Operating Officer of General Motors from 1974-1981 Elliot “Pete” Estes’ commitment to quality helped General Motors achieve unprecedented production levels and design changes.
Estes gained much of his early engineering experience working for Charles Kettering during the early 1940s. As a Motor Development Engineer with the Oldsmobile Division in 1947, Estes was part of the team that introduced the automotive industry’s first high compression engine. While working with Pontiac, Estes played a large role in engineering innovations such as the “wide track” principle and the development of the Tempest — the first American automobile to have a front-mounted engine and a rear-mounted transmission. He became General Manager of Chevrolet in 1965, helping Chevrolet to become the first individual manufacturer to build 3 million cars and trucks in a single calendar year. In 1968, Estes directed the largest single-year model change in Chevrolet history, including complete redesigns of the Chevelle, Nova and Corvette.
In addition to his professional achievements, Elliot Estes served as a board member of several educational foundations and received honorary doctorates from Kalamazoo College and Northern Michigan University.