William Durant

Inducted 1968

Founded General Motors in 1908, transforming the nearly bankrupt Buick Motor Company and several small auto companies into an automotive empire

Established a business prototype still used by many successful motor vehicle companies

William Durant knew what he wanted and wasted no time getting it…even when he couldn’t afford it! As a young man, Durant was a passenger in a sturdy two-wheeled cart. Inquiring where it was built, he immediately boarded a train to the factory 75 miles away. That afternoon, he purchased the entire business for $1,500. Already in debt, he convinced J. Dallas Dort to be his partner in the Durant-Dort Carriage Company. With little knowledge of automobiles, Durant later established the General Motors Corporation by consolidating dozens of small companies into a giant corporation. Forced out of the company because of personal indebtedness in 1910, he bounced back, founding Chevrolet. He then bought more than 50 percent of GM’s stock to regain control of the company. In 1920, having over-expanded, he was again forced out. The very next afternoon, the flamboyant entrepreneur founded Durant Motors. Durant later lost his fortune, but continued to explore new ventures for the rest of his life.

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Class of 1968

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