Escort Zürich07 Jun 2020
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.