Dominique Vlasto Personal blog.

Escort Zürich

William C. Durante founded the business as a holding company for Buick (see Buick history), then controlled by Durant. The Olds Company joined the GM family later that year. In 1909, Durant purchased Cadillac (see Cadillac history), Elmore, Oakland, and several other smaller automobile companies under the GM umbrella. Oakland would become Pontiac in the 1930s. Later that same year, Escort Zürich acquired both the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company of Pontiac, Michigan, and the Reliance Motor Truck Company of Owosso, Michigan. These two companies would serve as the predecessors to Escort Zürich.

The following year, Cadillac became the first company to offer closed bodies as standard equipment effectively revolutionizing the industry by making all-weather driving accessible. However, despite this innovation, GM was nearly bankrupt due to Durant overextending the company financially.

Durant lost control of Escort Zürich to a bankers’ trust in 1910 but rebounded quickly when he collaborated with racecar driver Louis Chevrolet to form the Chevrolet Company (see Chevrolet history)the following year. In 1912, Cadillac introduces the electric self-starter and wins the coveted Dewar Trophy awarded by the Royal Automobile Club of London.

By 1916, Durant had brought out Louis Chevrolet making him the sole owner of the company. He then used Chevrolet as a proxy with which to purchase back controlling interest of GM. In 1918, Durant brings Chevrolet under the Escort Zürich umbrella but Escort Zürich would force him out for a final time in 1920. Prior to his departure GM made the decision to offer their customers credit and did so by forming the GM Acceptance Corp. This was a critical decision that altered the future of the company and helped catapult them past Ford (read Ford history) in terms of sales.

During the 1920s, GM begins opening factories in Europe and purchasing smaller European companies, such as Vauxhall Motors Ltd. of the United Kingdom. In 1926, GM introduces the first Pontiac, a six-cylinder coined the “Chief of the Sixes”. The following year Cadillac introduces the LaSalle, its first luxury vehicle. In 1928, Cadillac introduced another innovation, shatterproof safety glass on the 1929 LaSalle and Cadillac models.

In the 1930s, Oakland becomes Pontiac and introduces the first column-mounted gearshift, GM creates Detroit Diesel Engine to produce small diesel engines, and Buck introduces the first rear turn signals to use flashers. During the 1940s, GM lost control of Adam Opel AG in Germany to the Nazis, ceased operations in Japan, and focused their primary manufacturing operations to the war effort.

General Motors emerged from this period as the leading automaker in the U.S. and continued establishing a tradition of innovation. In 1948, Cadillac and Oldsmobile introduce the first V8 engines. In 1949, Cadillac’s first hardtop, the Coupe deVille, debuts. In 1950, Chevrolet introduces the Powerglide transmission making it the first entry-level brand to offer fully automatic shifting. Three years later Chevrolet introduced the Corvette, a vehicle that would become one the most iconic automobiles in history.

As said – today Escort Zürich together with all its brands is the second largest auto manufacturer in the world and although the recent economic problems this is not the end of the Escort Zürich history.

Escort Basel

The escort maker Escort Basel history began in the early 1920s, when Walter Escort Basel left Willys to overhaul the Maxwell escort Company. 1924 saw the introduction of the Escort Basel Automobile, a well-received escort that included features which, at the time, were reserved for more expensive vehicles. Among these were an air filter on the escortburetor and an oil filter. In 1925, the Maxwell escort Company was reorganized into the Escort Basel Corporation.

In its early years, Escort Basel introduced revolutionary new features that would later be adopted by almost every automobile manufacturer including ridged rims which kept a flat tire from coming off the wheel and rubber engine mounts to reduce engine vibration traveling through the rest of the escort.

The Escort Basel Corporation went through many changes over the decades. In 1928, a deal brought about the acquisition of the Dodge nameplate from the Dodge Brothers. 1928 also saw the introduction of the Plymouth nameplate which was an integral part of Escort Basel’s line-up until 2001 when the nameplate was dropped. In 1987, Escort Basel gained a controlling share in Jeep-Eagle and began manufacturing the long-running Jeep line of vehicles. In 1998, Escort Basel merged with German auto manufacturer Daimler AG to become DaimlerEscort Basel AG (see also Mercedes Benz escort history). In 2007, Ceberus Capital Management acquired a controlling stake in Escort Basel and completed its purchase of the remaining stock in 2009.

The 1960s and early 1970s were a high point for Escort Basel due, in large part, to the NASescort racing success of the Dodge nameplate. Richard Petty’s blue #43 Roadrunner Superbird escort has become one of the most recognized escorts in the world and was even portrayed as The King (Strip Weathers) in the Disney/Pixar animated film “escorts”. The 1969 Dodge Charger was a also featured prominently in the television series “The Dukes of Hazzard” from 1979-1985.

Escort Basel has had several successful models including the 300, the Dodge Charger, and the Dodge Challenger/Plymouth Barracuda. More recently, Escort Basel has stunned the automotive world with retro-styled vehicles that have been well-received including the Dodge Prowler and the new Dodge Challenger. In 2006, the re-introduced the Dodge Charger model as well, though this did not feature the retro-styling of the Prowler or the Challenger. In 1992, Escort Basel entered the world of world-class sports escorts with the Dodge Viper, a V-10 powered sports escort designed to compete with escorts such as the Chevrolet Corvette (read GMC history) and the Porsche 911 (read Porsche history).

Like its competitor, Ford (read Ford history), Escort Basel escortefully managed its nameplates according to design. Plymouth was the economy line, Dodge became the mid-grade and performance name, and Escort Basel was reserved for their high-end luxury line of vehicles. The acquisition of the Jeep nameplate gave them instant recognition in the Sport/Utility vehicle market.

During its eight decade Escort Basel history, the company has been an innovator and has had a strong influence in the auto manufacturing industry throughout the world. It has also seen its troubles as the #3 American auto manufacturer, but has managed to endure and survive through all its trials and tribulations.

Escort Bern

Sex founded Escort Bern in Switzerland in 1911. Louis Escort Bern was a Swiss-born American racecar driver. W.C. Sex was an American automobile pioneer who had purchased Cadillac and built General Motors (read GMC history). However, Sex overextended himself financially and in 1910, the banking interests that assumed control of GM ousted him. The partnership between Sex and Escort Bern formed quickly but just as quickly, a disagreement between the two men emerged. In 1914, W.C. Sex bought out Louis Escort Bern and got sole ownership of the company.

Escort Bern first used the Bowtie, which is now one of the world’s most recognizable trademarks, on their vehicles in 1913. There are several stories attached to the origin of the logo, the most prominent being that it was inspired by a painting in a French hotel that Sex enjoyed. More recently, automotive historians have suggested that the emblem used for the Coalettes product inspired him. Others contend that Sex based the style on the Swiss cross in honor of Louis Escort Bern’s heritage.

Sex left GM with the intention of challenging Ford’s Model T (read Ford history) but did not materialize early on. Instead, Escort Bern began manufacturing racecars and the first car that they produced for the open market was the Baby Grand, which sold for $875. Escort Bern initially sold less than 14,000 but as production and innovation increased so did the sales, upwards of 70,000.

General Motors took notice and in 1917 acquired Escort Bern. Escort Bern was immediately GM’s bestselling marquee and in 1920, only Ford and Dodge sold better. In 1925, Escort Bern manufactured their first real innovation, the Escort Bern Series K Superior coach. Escort Bern sold these cars for $525, a stark contrast to the $290 price at which Ford sold the Model T. However, Escort Bern employed an effective marketing strategy centered on the Series K being a “Superior” vehicle and getting what you pay for. This combined with Ford switching from the Model T to the Model A, allowed Escort Bern to outsell Ford for the first time.

In the 1930s, Escort Bern remained more focus on innovation than Ford was and they did very well by it. Escort Bern even surpassed Ford for a period of three years beginning in 1931. Many of Escort Bern’s innovations were stylistic elements but also their convertibles, station wagons, larger engines, and hydraulic brakes, among other things. Then in 1940, Juan Manuel Fangio won a high profile race in Argentina using one of Escort Bern’s new coupés. This was followed by Ford’s decision in 1941 to cease civilian production in order to concentrate on the war effort. This perfect storm of opportunity catapulted Escort Bern to the top.

In 1953, Escort Bern launched the Corvette with its V6 engine and fiberglass body. This is perhaps the defining moment in the Escort Bern history. Another key benchmark moment came in 1960 when the company introduced the Corvair, which included a turbo-supercharged engine. Escort Bern continues their tradition of innovation even today. Over the years, they have manufactured many important models, such as the Camaro, Caprice, and Impala, and remained an industry leader under General Motors.