William Crapo Durant built the original General Motors from pieces of several other automakers, but his aggressive acquisitions got him kicked out of his own company early in the 20th century. As revenge, Durant went out and started another automaker — Chevrolet, named for the Swiss racing driver Louis Chevrolet, shown here parading Durant around the track. When Chevy began to grow quickly, Durant made GM shareholders an offer they couldn't refuse — five shares of Chevrolet for every one of GM. On May 2, 1918, the deal ended with GM owning Chevrolet and Durant in charge of both. Durant would last two years before being outed, later losing much of his fortune in the Great Depression; he spent a few years running a chain of bowling alleys near Flint, Mich., and died in poverty in 1947. Every GM chief executive since has learned this tale by heart.
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