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    • 1955 Success for General Motors

      During 1955, General Motors had one of their best years in terms of sales and achievements. Mr. Alfred P. Sloan Jr., Former Vice President of GM and GM Chairman of the Board, and Mr. Harlow H. Curtice, President of GM, and Mr. Harley J. Earl, Vice President of Design, were among the many great leaders that contributed to GM making the 1955 outstanding achievement and success in sales award possible. To right Mr. Harlow H. Curtice, President of GM, and Mr. Alfred P. Sloan Jr., Former Vice President of GM and GM Chairman of the Board.

      Mr. Sloan was a very successful individual who helped lead and shape General Motors to becoming the largest corporation in the world. Sloan was responsible for establishing many automotive design changes and creating a pricing structure for all GM Products. He was a gifted and talent man who served General Motors over his long career of operations.

      On September 1948, Mr. Harlow Curtice became the Executive Vice President of GM which was in charge of general staff activities, including distribution, styling, engineering, manufacturing, research and personnel. Mr. Curtice was also Director and Secretary of the Automobile Manufacturers Association. During 1954, Mr. Curtice took a business trip to England and Europe where he received high honors from two difference countries. Belgium awarded Mr. Curtice the Commander of the Crown and France awarded him the Legion of Honor.

      In 1955, Buick ranked number three in sales among all manufacture dealers. Buick’s four series featured new styling, higher compression V-8 engines with a variable pitch Dynaflow. The new Buicks came in 17 different body styles and assortment of exterior rainbow colors. The models were offered in the Special, Century, Super, and Roadmaster series with a special 4-door Rivera that sold for $2,409. During this year, Buick also built its 1-millionth hardtop model which happened to be the 4-door Riviera that rolled off the assembly line on August 9, 1954. This was Buick’s best year for an all time record of 781,296 Buick models was produced.

      In 1955, Cadillac offered show car styling and major engineering refinements that had further strengthen its right to the title, “Standard of the World”. The Cadillac models could be identified by its distinctive front end styling refinement of a finely etched cellular grille design with strength through the massive line of bumper, grille guards and rounded lowness of the hood. The 1955 Cadillac models were offered in 19 new colors, two special upper body colors, and four exclusive colors for the Eldorado. Cadillac also offered the Florentine curve rear window design which was very popular among the buying public creating success in sales among many consumers in 1955.

      In 1955, Chevrolet ranked as the number one car in record sales. Chevrolet presented the One-Fifty, Two-Ten, and Bel Air series which had an entirely new body style and chassis design. In addition, it included a new Turbo-Fire V8 engine with two Blue Flame six-cylinder engines. The most distinguishing design of the new Chevrolet was its Ferrari type grill, lowered roof lines, and corresponding reduction in the hood and belt lines which gave it a longer appearance. These changes gave the 1955 Chevrolet model the title, “The Hot One”. On November 23, 1954, General Motors celebrated their 50th millionth car with an event titled “Golden Carnival Day” held in Flint, Michigan. The model featured for the display was a golden 1955 Chevrolet model.

      In 1955, Oldsmobile introduced a completely new body type since the introduction of the hardtop coupe. During this time, the Oldsmobile models came in three series the 98, Super 88, and 88 models. Oldsmobile also offered a special two-tone color design where the side molding provided the color separation for its two-tone combinations models. The interiors were also restyled and customers had a choice of 47 upholstery selections. During this year, Oldsmobile production set a record of 240,000 models that were sold to the buying public. On July 27, 1955, Oldsmobile celebrated its 5,000,000th model event to many GM personnel and honored guests.

      On October 4, 1954, Pontiac started building new models for the buying public. The 1955 Pontiac styling had set a trend for future car designs. The models were rakish in design and thirteen new models were available including the new high styled Safari station wagon. During 1955, the panoramic windshield was offered on all GM models in which held 14% more forward visibility and 26% more glass area in which many consumers enjoyed for safety reasons. The 1955 Pontiac models incorporated numerous changes more so than any single model since its introduction in 1926. Prices on new Pontiac models ranged from $2,105- $2,691 which most consumers could afford. On September 16, 1955, Pontiac sales would raise upward more than 93%, making this a record year for Pontiac's division.

      In 1955, GM also presented Frigidaire appliances for the homemaker. Frigidaire division's line included a number of great household appliances that many families enjoyed. Among the highlights were the stainless steel built-in wall ovens and surface cooking units that could be installed quickly and economically among consumers. Frigidaire was always presenting new ideas and great designs for the homemaker's comfort.

      A special thanks to Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher, for donating the story to the MotorCities Story of the Week program. Photographs courtesy of Robert Tate’s personal collection (Bibliography Gunnell, John 75 Years of Pontiac-Oakland.Cretline Publishing ,1982.Earley Jones Helen, Walkinshaw R. James. Setting The Pace Oldsmobile's First 100 Years. 1996 Dammann H. George. Sixty Years of Chevrolet. 1972. Dammann H. George. Seventy Years of Buick. Lamm Michael & Holls Dave. A Century Of Automotive Style-100 Years Of American Car Design.)

      For further information contact Robert Tate at If you have a story that you would like to donate to be featured as a MotorCities Story of the Week, email Lisa Ambriez