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What Was the Surprising Fate of Louis Chevrolet?

Margaret Lipman
Updated May 17, 2024
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Everyone knows the name Chevrolet. Chances are, you've probably seen a few Chevys on the road today. There might even be one in your garage. But you may not be aware of the sad and surprising fate of the man whose name will forever be associated with Corvettes, Camaros, Malibus, Silverados, and Surburbans.

Louis Chevrolet was a Swiss immigrant who designed and raced cars, making a name for himself in the first decade of the 20th century. In 1911, he started the Chevrolet Motor Car Company with General Motors founder William C. Durant. His tenure with the company was brief, as Chevrolet and Durant had different ideas – Durant wanted to produce cars as cheaply as possible and Chevrolet was more interested in high-quality, state-of-the-art vehicles. By 1915, Louis Chevrolet had sold his stake in the company. He went on to focus on building racing vehicles and then aircraft engines, but lost everything during the Great Depression. By the mid-1930s, Louis Chevrolet was working in Detroit as a mechanic at the company that still bore his name. He died practically penniless in 1941.

The Chevy legend:

  • Louis Chevrolet's racing career was marked by both success and spectacular failure. In addition to breaking records and winning races, he spent a total of three years in the hospital between 1905 and 1920. His brother Gaston was killed during a race in Beverly Hills in 1920.

  • Louis Chevrolet's other commercial ventures included the Frontenac Motor Co,, the Stutz Motorcar Co., and the Chevrolet Brothers Manufacturing Company.

  • Passionate about designing airplane engines, Louis Chevrolet invented the 10-cylinder radial engine but he didn't receive a patent until 1935, by which time he was unable to rebuild his failed Chevrolet Aircraft Co.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Margaret Lipman
By Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range of topics. Her articles cover essential areas such as finance, parenting, health and wellness, nutrition, educational strategies. Margaret's writing is guided by her passion for enriching the lives of her readers through practical advice and well-researched information.
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Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range...
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