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Could GM's Billy Durant become as famous as Henry Ford?

GM archives

Every school child knows the name Henry Ford, and his contribution to the auto industry.

Billy Durant never achieved anywhere near Ford's fame. 

Durant was one of the progenitors of the company we now know as General Motors.

Durant's role in the building of the American auto industry could become better known, depending on just what GM decides to do with Durant's first factory in Flint.  GM recently acquired the building for an undisclosed amount.

Durant and his partner J.D. Dort were carriage and wagon makers before they were car makers.  The building is "Factory One," the original factory of the Durant Dort Carriage Company. 

Kevin Kirbitz is a GM engineering manager and also on the board of the Durant Dort Carriage Company Foundation.

"They turned out carriages, road carts, wagons, from this site.  Until 1915, they were building horse-drawn vehicles here," Kirbitz told Michigan Radio.  The factory later became a motorized vehicle factory.

He says GM hasn't finalized its plans for the building, but they could involve a Buick car display, for tourists or for special GM events.


Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.