GM Celebrates 500 Million Milestone. 500 Million GM Branded Vehicles Built Globally Since 1908.
A half-billion vehicles over 106 years equals billions in commerce, payroll, investments and infrastructure in communities all over the world. For customers, these vehicles played roles in weddings, family vacations, graduations, new businesses and countless milestones along life’s journey.
Globally, more than 500 million General Motors-branded vehicles have been built – the most of any automaker by far. GM and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries and the company has leadership positions in the world’s largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM, its subsidiaries and joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling brands.
Attaining the 500 million vehicle milestone is an astounding feat. But the journey is just as exciting, especially the grand celebration of GM’s 50 millionth U.S. produced vehicle in 1954.
GM president Harlow Curtice announced that GM would celebrate this “unparalleled and historic industrial achievement” with a nationwide “Golden CARnival”. GM would throw open to the public the doors of 125 of its plants and training centers across the country in an Open House to America on the big day, November 23, 1954. Included in the celebration were luncheons in 65 cities with civic leaders, employees and dealers. Mr. Curtice broadcast a message to this nationwide audience over the largest closed television network ever used. But the focal point of the celebration would be the Flint, Michigan, assembly plant of GM’s Chevrolet Motor Division.
Headed by Mr. Curtice, top GM executives and over 100 newsmen from across the country followed the 50 millionth car down the assembly line to its completion, signaled by the crash of aerial bombs outside the plant and the shriek of whistles at all GM plants.
Flint turned out en masse as thousands of people swarmed the city to watch a giant parade travel down Saginaw Street. The parade featured 18 floats, golden cars and trucks representing all GM passenger car and truck divisions, bands from seven Midwestern high schools and colleges and the 50 millionth U.S. produced car – a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe – riding proudly on a float at the end of the procession. The Flint Chamber of Commerce distributed 50,000 gold feathers for residents to wear, representing the achievement as “a feather in the cap” of Flint. The parade terminated in downtown Flint and the IMA Auditorium, where 1,200 guests attended a civic luncheon. They watched a 10-minute “Ballad of Progress” show with a New York cast of singers and dancers, and heard a talk by Mr. Curtice.
Since its early beginnings in 1908, GM has lead the industry in technology and innovation, producing vehicles designed to meet the evolving needs of its customers. Whether it’s 1954 or 2015, no other automobile manufacturer has ever come close to matching GM’s industrial production might.
Read more from the General Motors Heritage Center Archive Click here to read a Historical Brochure on the 50 Millionth U.S. produced vehicle
Click here to read GM President Harlow Curtice’s comments on the 50 Millionth U.S. produced vehicle.