2 • Thursday, November 3, 2011 • Lansing State Journal
CHEVROLET | 100 YEARS
Surprise Camaro was ultimate Father’s Day gift I didn’t know that my dad liked cars. I mean, how would I? Like many of you reading this special section celebrating Chevrolet’s 100th anniversary, I grew up in a Midwestern middle class family. And my parents invested in practical cars that allowed them to get their four children from Point A to Point B. We had a 1977 Chevy Impala station wagon — the location of my recurring travel nightmare of being stuck in the “way back” with my brother. Being the youngest, I didn’t have a choice. My sisters weren’t interested in swapping us the middle seat. We also had a Chevette. It was the car my dad drove back and forth from our home in Valparaiso, Ind., to his job as an engineer at U.S. Steel. Let’s face it, the Chevette was not a cool car. But is was reliable, fuel-efﬁcient and affordable. My dad’s car driving experience took a sharp turn in 1986 when a brand new maroon Camaro appeared in our driveway for
Father’s Day 1986 was a memorable one for my father, who received a Camaro. He’s pictured here with the car, his children and mother. Father’s Day. It was a surprise. To this day, I’m still amazed my mom had the conﬁdence to buy it without my dad in tow. My brother, a freshman in college, helped her pick it out. That was quite an upgrade — from Chevette to Camaro. That upgrade wasn’t lost on me, nearly 17 and eager to take the four-
speed manual for spin. I remember nervously asking my dad if I could drive the car to softball practice. His response: Sure. It’s only a car. Can that really be an adequate response when talking about a Chevy? The folks we talked to for this section would disagree. A
Chevrolet is not only a car; nor is it only a car brand. It’s an American icon. It evokes a sense of pride. So my dad’s response was only partly true. While it indeed was “just” a car, he sure did love that Camaro — its styling and smooth ride. That car also opened the door to buying other cars he wanted — rather than the family cars required when we all lived at home. The Camaro wasn’t our family’s ﬁrst Chevy — and certainly wasn’t our last. My ﬁrst car was a Cavalier, purchased from my parents in my senior year in college. My brother’s ﬁrst ride was a green 1978 Chevy Caprice. He affectionately called it “Fenway,” in deference to the Green Monster in Boston. There are two Chevrolets in my garage now — a 2008 Malibu and a 2009 Silverado. But I’m still waiting for my Camaro.
Stephanie Angel, managing editor
IN THE SECTION
In a car town like Lansing, automotive milestones are to be celebrated. And the 100th anniversary of Chevrolet is a big one. We may be an Oldsmobile town, but we like all our cars.
MADE IN LANSING
» There have been four Chevrolet vehicles made at local assembly plants — SSR pickup, Malibu, Cavalier and Traverse. Read a brief history on each vehicle. Page 4
FAMILY BUSINESS » Local dealerships have a rich history in this community, some dating back to the 1910s. And some current owners have family ties that run nearly as deep. Check out their stories. Pages 6-7
Chevrolet ties started with 1973 Chevelle Malibu To borrow a phrase, Chevy runs deep in my family. I grew up in Oldsmobile country but much like the Lansing area, Chevrolets were a big part of life. My ﬁrst car, in fact, was a Chevy — a 1973 Chevelle Malibu to be exact. Dark red. Black interior. V-8 350 engine. And, ironically, purchased from a Toyota dealer, courtesy of my aunt’s boyfriend. I bought it for a whopping
$800 in 1979, close to my 16th birthday in June. The 350 was more or less standard for the time but still gave me enough Polzin speed and power to put a smile on my face when I punched the accelerator. Not exactly a Camaro, but for a kid with his ﬁrst car, it was just ﬁne. And it looked cool in the high school parking lot.
Add a Pioneer stereo, a couple of speakers and I thought I was set. That car would last me a few years, until I turned to the hometown Olds Cutlass Supreme. I also would try a few other nameplates — Ford, Chrysler, Plymouth — but somehow seemed too return to Chevy. They were reliable, affordable and, in later years, combined just enough styling and functionality to make them attractive.
Today, amid the family collection of my father-in-law’s 2010 Camaro, the 1966 Chevelle he’s rebuilding, the 2001 Silverado pickup he used for work, the 2004 Venture minivan with 191,000 miles my sister and her husband still haul their four kids around in, you’ll ﬁnd a 2007 Equinox crossover my wife and I have had for a while now. Because the Chevy ties continue to run deep. — Kevin Polzin, business editor
Dad’s Chevy trucks evoke special memories of childhood There’s something special a long day of tree about a Chevy pickup. hunting, we’d ﬁnd My dad, Jim Domsic, has drivthe perfect scotch en Chevy pickups most of my life. pine to cut down His S-10 and Silverado are part of and load into the many fond family memories. bed of the Chevy. Every December while I was Then there’s the growing up, my mom, dad, two Anders Fourth of July pabrothers and I would squeeze into rade, when neighmy dad’s teal green S-10 and head borhood kids would decorate their to the Christmas tree farm. After bikes and cycle down the street
led by my dad driving his S-10, playing patriotic marching tunes from a radio on the tailgate. More recent memories include my dad’s blue Silverado. Just a few weeks ago, my parents packed the truck full of chairs, coolers, a grill and food and headed to East Lansing to tailgate for the Michigan vs. Michigan State football game.
There weren’t any parking spots near our tailgate party, so my dad pulled up as close as he could. At least 10 friends and family members ran up and unloaded the truck within seconds. There are plenty of other memorable moments that just wouldn’t have been the same without my dad’s Chevy pickup.
— Melissa Anders, reporter
Chevy, celebrating 100 years of driving Lansing forward. Congratulations!
TOP 10 CHEVYS » Some might call this task impossible, but we gave it a whirl anyway. Of course, the list is subjective. LSJ’s Don Pepper makes his picks. Page 10
READERS SHARE » From a drag-racing serviceman to a Corvette fan, readers tell us their Chevy memories. Page 13
MEET OUR DEALERS Snapshots of Greater Lansing’s Chevrolet dealers. Page 15
THE MAN BEHIND THE BRAND Learn more about co-founder and race-car driver Louis Chevrolet. Page 15
Lansing State Journal • Thursday, November 3, 2011 • 3
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4 • Thursday, November 3, 2011 • Lansing State Journal
CHEVROLET | 100 YEARS
LANSING STATE JOURNAL FILE PHOTO
Workers at the Lansing Delta Township plant manufacture the Chevrolet Traverse, in addition to two other crossover vehicles. The plant went on line in 2006.
MADE IN LANSING
Oldsmobile town has a history with Chevys, too Melissa Anders firstname.lastname@example.org
Lansing may be better known as the birthplace of the Oldsmobile, but the town has ties to General Motors Co.’s venerable Chevrolet nameplate, as well. The Chevrolet Traverse, a hot-selling crossover, currently is made at the Lansing Delta Township assembly plant alongside the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia. And at one time or another, Lansing-area factories have churned out Chevy SSRs, Malibus and Cavaliers. You’ll likely notice a lot of Chevys on local roads, too. That’s because Chevrolet has been the most popular brand in Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties the past few years, based on new vehicle registrations. The top ﬁve models in the tri-county area last year were Chevys — the Malibu midsize car, Silverado pickup, Equinox and Traverse crossovers, and the Impala full-size car. The brand controlled the top six new vehicles in 2009 and accounted for four of the top 10 models in 2008, according to data from Southﬁeld-based auto industry researcher R.L. Polk & Co. “Chevy has always been true GM,” said Bill Reed, president of United Auto Workers Local 602. He represents hourly workers at the Lansing Delta Township plant. “It’s nice to still have that brand around,” he said, referring to other GM divisions that have been discontinued. “We’ve lost Pontiac, we’ve lost Oldsmobile. But we still have the Chevy produced in Lansing, which shows (that for) General Motors, the heartbeat of America is in Chevy.” Here’s a look at the Lansing-made Chevys, past and present:
LANSING STATE JOURNAL FILE PHOTO
The Chevrolet SSR was built at the Lansing Craft Centre from 2003 to 2006. The niche hardtop convertible pickup truck never had great sales, but those who bought them, loved them — and still do.
CHEVROLET MALIBU CHEVROLET CLASSIC 2000-2005, MADE AT LANSING CAR ASSEMBLY
2010-PRESENT, MADE AT THE LANSING DELTA TOWNSHIP ASSEMBLY PLANT
2003-2006, LANSING CRAFT CENTRE
When production of the Traverse was moved from Spring Hill, Tenn., it meant more than just a replacement for the discontinued Saturn Outlook built at the Delta plant. The vehicle marked the return of a third shift, which hadn’t run since late 2007. About 900 workers were brought in, including 500 transferred from Spring Hill and about 400 laid-off Michigan workers from outside the Lansing area. The Traverse was made in Spring Hill from 2008 until the plant closed in November 2009. Production moved to Lansing in January 2010. “It’s a great-selling vehicle, it’s of course a beautiful vehicle to own and drive,” said Bill Reed of UAW Local 602. “We feel fortunate to have the products that we do in Lansing,” he said. Lansing’s involvement in the crossover began long before it hit the local production line. Carol Bemis and a group of employees worked with GM’s design team to make the vehicle easier to build. “I saw that thing from a hunk of clay to today,” said Bemis, a shift leader in the trim shop at Lansing Delta Township. The automaker sold 106,744 Traverse crossovers in 2010, up 17.2 percent from 2009. Year-to-date sales through September 2011 were up 7 percent to 83,464.
The Chevrolet SSR (Super Sport Roadster) was one-of-a-kind with hot-rod styling on a hardtop convertible pickup truck. It was made at the Lansing Craft Centre, which specialized in low-volume vehicles. “It was never intended to be a highproﬁt vehicle and that’s why it was built in the Lansing Craft Centre,” said David Cole, chairman emeritus for Ann Arborbased Center for Automotive Research “It was more of an image vehicle.” But even by niche standards, the SSR wasn’t a big seller. Sales fell from 9,648 vehicles in 2004 to 3,803 in 2006. But the SSR has its own base of hard-core enthusiasts. In August, about 50 SSR fans stopped in Lansing to meet with local UAW members who built the car. The visit was part of their trip to the Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit.
Workers at Lansing Car Assembly embraced the addition of the midsize Malibu to their line of Oldsmobile Aleros and Pontiac Grand Ams. In addition to landing a vehicle from GM’s bread-and-butter division, the Malibu kept workers on the line. “We were pretty excited to have a Chevrolet,” said Amy Farmer, who managed the plant at the time. The Malibu helped keep the plant working with two shifts, said Jerry Mets, who worked on the car in the 1990s. “The Chevy was really a great thing to happen for us because our other models were
needing some support,” said Mets, now a UAW quality network representative at the Lansing Delta Township plant. In 2002, the Lansing-built Malibu took ﬁrst place in its segment in the JD Power Initial Quality Survey, and the plant was recognized with a Bronze Plant Award. GM also sold the Malibu for use as a ﬂeet vehicle under the name Chevrolet Classic.
CHEVROLET CAVALIER 1995-1999, MADE AT LANSING CAR ASSEMBLY AND LANSING CRAFT CENTRE
The ﬁrst Lansing-made Cavalier coupe didn’t have a very long life on the road. “I took the ﬁrst one home off the line and hit a deer with it,” said Randy Thayer, who was assistant plant manager at Lansing Car Assembly. Workers at GM’s LCA plant built the Cavalier coupe. They also did body and paint work on the convertibles, which were completed at the Lansing Craft Centre. The convertible brought new life to the Lansing Craft Centre, which also made the convertible Pontiac Sunﬁre. The two convertibles were the ﬁrst cars to be built at the plant since it stopped making the Buick Reatta in 1991. “It put a lot of people back to work and allowed them to get their 30 years,” said Joe Sagy, retiree beneﬁts representative for UAW Region 1-C. The car had a big impact on Sagy, who moved from Ohio, where the convertible work had been done.
“It was the best thing that ever happened to me in my life,” said Sagy, who still calls the Lansing area home. The Cavalier was one of Chevrolet’s most popular cars, selling more than 1.3 million during the 1996 to 2000 model years. Throughout the car’s 24-year history, it was built in several locations, including plants in Lordstown, Ohio and Coahuila, Mexico. Despite its popularity, GM struggled to offer the same quality with its Cavalier as its foreign competitors’ small cars, Cole said. Cavaliers didn’t offer as many high-caliber features because of labor and other so-called legacy costs, he said. But that has changed, Cole said. The Cavalier’s modern-day successor, the Cruze, has received high marks for quality.
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Lansing State Journal • Thursday, November 3, 2011 • 5
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6 • Thursday, November 3, 2011 • Lansing State Journal
CHEVROLET | 100 YEARS
A LIFETIME WITH CHEVY It’s a family affair with three of Lansing’s oldest dealerships
s kids, they started out washing cars, sweeping ﬂoors and taking care of odds and ends at their fathers’ Chevrolet dealerships. They learned the ropes, fell in love with the cars and trucks, then eventually took over the family business. Ralph Shaheen, Dick Iding and Jeff Feldpausch run three of the Lansing-area’s oldest Chevy dealerships, which have roots dating back to the 1920s and 1930s. And while they may be competitors, they’re not so different when it comes to selling cars.
They’re all passionate about Chevrolet. And if they had to pick a favorite car, each would choose the Corvette. “It’s America’s brand,” Shaheen said. “It’s the most popular. It’s what everybody dreams of having when you’re growing up.” And the brand has made strides since Shaheen, Feldpausch and Iding ﬁrst got in to the business. “They ﬁnally have gotten to a point where they really understand what the public wants,” Iding said. “I think they’re in touch with what people want, with what people can
afford.” The three men also could end up having another thing in common — they may well be the last generations in their families to be in the business. None of their children currently work for the dealerships. But could they? “Who knows what the future holds? You never know,” Feldpausch said. “We would never shut the door on it, but we wouldn’t want them to do it because it’s easy, because they got a job. If you’re going to have to want it, bad.” — Melissa Anders
‘We survived through ... good times and bad’
LANSING STATE JOURNAL FILE PHOTO
The precursor to Bud Kouts — Wolverine Chevrolet Co. — was started in 1939. Wesley “Bud” Kouts bought the dealership in 1954. It was bought by the Iding family in 1979, and is now run by Dick Iding.
‘I kind of fell in love with the business’ Joseph Iding always told his three sons to stay away from the car-selling business. The former owner of Bud Kouts Chevrolet told them the hours were too long and there had to be an easier way to make a living. None of them listened. Jim, Dick and Pat Iding all got into the business at an early age and carried on their father’s legacy at Bud Kouts Chevrolet in Lansing. “I have a passion for cars. That’s kind of how it all evolved,” said Dick Iding, president and general manager. Joseph Iding worked as an accountant for GM’s Oldsmobile division before deciding to change career paths. He took a job at Wolverine Chevrolet in downtown Lansing in 1946. That same year the dealership, which had opened in 1939, moved to Michigan Avenue. In 1954 Wesley “Bud” Kouts bought and renamed the store. Joseph Iding bought the store in 1977 and kept the Bud Kouts name. He also ran a Honda dealership at one time. Dick Iding started working at the dealership even before his
BUD KOUTS CHEVROLET
» Location: 2801 E. Michigan Ave. in Lansing » History: Ted Peters started Wolverine Chevrolet Co. in downtown Lansing in 1939. Wesley “Bud” Kouts purchased the store in 1954, and Joseph Iding took over in 1979. Iding’s son Dick took over in 2002. » Employees: 85 » 2010 sales: 902 new vehicles
THE OWNER Dick Iding
» Family: Wife, Lori and two daughters » Favorite Chevrolet: Corvette » Currently drives: Tahoe, Camaro
On GM’s bankruptcy » We did a few layoffs. During the bankruptcy we actually reduced some wages. We actually talked to our employees and most of them as a whole didn’t want to do away with employees, they were all more willing to reduce wages than see people go away.
» Position: President and general manager, Bud Kouts Chevrolet » Education: Bachelor’s in mechanical engineering, MSU » Age: 58 » Residence: Grand Ledge
On Chevrolet’s evolution » At one time … Chevrolet really, in a lot of ways, didn’t compete with the foreigns, the ﬁts, the ﬁnishes. But today we’re there. I think in many ways we’ve way surpassed them in quality. The warranty work on our vehicles today has drastically come down.
father bought it. He worked part-time while growing up and continued to work while attending Michigan State University for mechanical engineering. “I kind of fell in love with the business,” he said. Dick Iding went full-time in
1974 and eventually took over as president when his father passed away in 2002. “He was active right until (age) 83 when he passed away,” Dick Iding said of his father. “He was associated with the store from 1946 to 2002.”
Ralph Shaheen didn’t always plan on running one of the area’s biggest car dealerships. While growing up, he and his brothers, Dan and Jim, helped out at dealerships run by their dad, Michael. But Ralph Shaheen had other aspirations. At one time, he thought about going into medicine or law. He ended up with a degree in business administration from Michigan State University. “I graduated from Michigan State, thought I’d sell cars for a year, ﬁgure out what I wanted to do,” Ralph Shaheen said. “But it just stuck. I love the business.” So does his family. Shaheen’s father, Michael Shaheen, began selling cars in Flint in 1955. In 1970, he purchased England-Cook Chevrolet in downtown Lansing, which dates back to 1922. He renamed the dealership and later moved it to 3901 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. In 1974, just two years after Ralph Shaheen started working full-time at the dealership, his father died. Shaheen took over the family business at age 24, making him the youngest dealer in the country at one point, he said. “It was very scary,” Shaheen said. “I went to the college of hard knocks. But we survived through a couple recessions, good times and bad.” Shaheen wasn’t in it alone. His brothers also worked there. Jim Shaheen is currently the vice president at the Lansing dealership, and Dan Shaheen now runs Team One Chevrolet in Charlotte.
» Sales, service and parts: 632 American Road in Lansing; » Body, detail and parts: 3901 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Lansing » History: Howard Cook and Fred “Ted” England started EnglandCook Chevrolet in 1922 in downtown Lansing. Michael Shaheen purchased and renamed the dealership in 1970. Shaheen’s son Ralph took over in 1974. » Employees: 155 » 2010 sales: 1,400 new vehicles
IN CHARGE Ralph Shaheen
» Position: President and general manager » Education: Bachelor’s in business administration from MSU » Age: 61 » Residence: Mason » Family: Wife, Denise, one daughter » Favorite Chevrolet: Corvette » Currently drives: Suburban
SHAHEEN’S VIEWS On GM’s bankruptcy » This business has ups and downs, it ebbs and ﬂows. You’ve got to be able to make yourself stronger in the good times so you can weather the downturns. That’s what we did. On Chevrolet’s evolution » It’s been able to adapt to the changing times … Look at the Volt. It’s a halo car, it’s not the end all see all, it’s the one that’s going to develop everything else … GM and Chevrolet have always been on the leading edge for what’s coming.
The Shaheen Chevrolet dealership got its start on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (left). It’s now on American Road in south Lansing. LANSING STATE JOURNAL FILE PHOTO
‘They say I have a Chevrolet emblem tattooed on my arm’ Jeff Feldpausch began washing cars at his dad’s dealership in St. Johns when he was about 12 years old. After high school, he trained to become a technician and started working full-time for his father, Bernard Feldpausch. The elder Feldpausch also got his start as a mechanic, working for Pohl Brothers Chevrolet-Olds Co. in downtown St. Johns after returning from World War II. His uncles, George and Herm Pohl, opened the dealership in 1924. He worked his way up through the dealership and bought the business in 1964. People called him Mr. B, so he decided to rename the dealership B’s Chevrolet. That didn’t ﬂy with the automaker though. “They rejected it because they said that name is going to be written a lot, and that apostrophe is going to be left out and you’ll be known as BS Chevrolet,” Jeff Feldpausch said. It’s been known as Bee’s ever since. At one point it was called Bee’s Motors and sold Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep along with Chevrolet. Bee’s stopped selling Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep when Chrysler ended its franchise with the dealer in 2009. The dealership has been in its current spot on U.S. Highway 27 since 1970. Like his father, Jeff Feldpausch worked his way through different departments and in 1997 bought the dealership from his dad. “It just felt right,” he said. “Everybody
BEE’S CHEVROLET » Location: 2100 S. U.S. Highway 27 in St. Johns » History: George and Herman Pohl founded Pohl Brothers Chevrolet-Olds Co. in St. Johns in 1924. Bernard Feldpausch purchased and renamed the dealership in 1964. Feldpausch’s son Jeff took over in 1997. » Employees: 45 » 2010 sales: 270 new vehicles
IN CHARGE Jeff Feldpausch » Position: Owner, Bee’s Chevrolet in St. Johns » Education: GM’s automotive service educational program through Delta College » Age: 47 » Residence: St. Johns » Family: Wife, Barb and three children » Favorite Chevrolet: Corvette » Currently drives: Silverado
Pohl Brothers Chevrolet-Olds Co. opened in 1924. It was renamed Bee’s in 1964. teases me, they say I have a Chevrolet emblem tattooed on my arm.” Bernard Feldpausch still comes by the dealership, but leaves the daily operations to his son.
“When Jeff bought the dealership, I learned a long time ago to get the hell out,” he said. “He’s going to make mistakes the same as I. There can’t be two hands on the nest.”
On GM’s bankruptcy » I knew at one point, somewhere down probably in Detroit, a panel had a folder that had Bee’s Chevrolet on it and it was either go or no go. It was terrifying. On Chevrolet’s evolution » My dad, when he came down and looked at the ﬁrst (Volt) we got in, he said it reminded him of 1955. That’s when Chevrolet came out with the V-8, he said that changed the course … it was just huge momentum and everybody was positive and excited and he said that’s exactly what the Volt reminds me of.
CHEVROLET | 100 YEARS
Lansing State Journal • Thursday, November 3, 2011 • 7
A CONSTANT AMIDST CHANGE
Tom Huhn’s been working with cars for 45 years — ﬁrst for family business, now for Sundance SUNDANCE CHEVROLET
Melissa Anders email@example.com
ship, did all the stuff you had to do as a kid.” Lyle died in 1976. His son, Peter, took over, buying out Leon’s stake in 1980. The dealership then ran into ﬁnancial problems and the bank that was ﬁnancing part of the business recruited Terry Hanks to purchase and take over the business. Hanks said he had tried to buy the dealership before, but that Peter Huhn did not want to sell. Hanks took over in 1981. Tom Huhn said he thought about buying the business to keep it in the family, but it would have meant borrowing money from his dad. “That was his money, his retirement,” Huhn said. “I stayed on to sell cars.” Huhn, 61, has been working at the dealership for 45 years. “I still enjoy what I’m doing,” he said, adding that he can’t see himself retiring for at least another ﬁve or six years. Hanks, 71, doesn’t have plans to retire any time soon either.
GREG DERUITER/LANSING STATE JOURNAL
The Sundance Chevrolet car lot is a familiar place for Tom Huhn. He’s been working at the Grand Ledge dealership since 1966, when his dad and uncle owned Leo Huhn Chevrolet. It became Sundance in 1981. Prior to buying the Grand Ledge dealership, Hanks worked for Jack Dykstra Ford in Lansing and spent his free time farming. He later left to farm full-time,
but eventually decided to get back into the car business. Hanks owns and operates the Chevy store and Sundance Riding Stables in Grand Ledge
and a Buick and GMC dealership in St. Johns. His son, Joe, is a sales manager at Sundance Chevrolet; his daughter, Terrah, manages Sundance Buick GMC.
Chevy’s Been Building Cars For 100 Years And The Graff Family Has Been Selling Cars For 97 Years The new Chevrolets at Graff in Okemos are some of the best built cars on the market today. Graff is so conﬁdent you will be impressed by our award-winning lineup we will give you an oil change for $10.95 for taking a test drive during our weeklong celebration, Nov. 3rd - Nov. 9th.
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Just East of Meridian Mall
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GRAND LEDGE — A new Chevrolet sold for about $700 to $1,200 back when Leo Huhn ﬁrst started selling automobiles in Grand Ledge more than 90 years ago. These days, a carbuyer will spend thousands more for a basic model. And Huhn’s legacy continues as Chevys roll off the lot of what is now Sundance Chevrolet. Tom Huhn, Leo’s grandson, said his grandfather went into business with his father-in-law, Peter Fandel, around 1919. Today, the younger Huhn still sells Chevys in Grand Ledge at the same dealership. Selling cars started off as a side project to Fandel’s farm implement business. Then, in 1922, Fandel and Leo Huhn built a new store in downtown Grand Ledge. Huhn took over the business in 1926 and it became Leo Huhn Chevrolet. He stepped back in 1948, “semi-retiring” as his son, Lyle, joined as a partnership. In 1966, Leo’s other son, Leon, bought out his father’s in the business. The brothers moved to a new building in 1966 on Saginaw Highway, where the dealership remains today. Leon’s son, Tom, began working at the dealership that year. He was 16. “I started off part-time in high school (and) continued on working after I got out of high school,” Tom Huhn said. “I worked in all parts of the dealer-
» Location: 5895 Saginaw Hwy. in Grand Ledge » History: Leo Huhn and Peter Fandel started selling cars in 1919, dealership stayed in Huhn family until 1981 when Terry Hanks bought it and Hanks changed the name to Sundance. » Employees: About 160 » 2010 sales: 882 new vehicles
8 • Thursday, November 3, 2011 • Lansing State Journal
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10 • Thursday, November 3, 2011 • Lansing State Journal
CHEVROLET | 100 YEARS
THE BEST OF 100 YEARS 10 Chevys worthy of special recognition
From the very ﬁrst vehicle to carry the Chevrolet name to the most modern, fuelefﬁcient (and, in June, best-selling) car in America, Chevrolet has always been America’s brand. It has reﬂected our tastes for luxury and performance, style and raw power, reliability and affordability. It has satisﬁed our needs to carry cargo and haul passengers. And when General Motors Corp. was on the precipice of bankruptcy and a massive restructuring loomed large, no one doubted the brand’s survival. Americans knew that whatever happened to the other marketing divisions, the “new” GM, renamed General Motors Co., would have to include Chevy. In fact, a number of industry watchers went so far as to predict that a GM would emerge comprising just two brands: Chevrolet and Cadillac. In its hundred years, Chevrolet — more than any other nameplate — has produced a stream of vehicles that have captured the public’s imagination, ﬁlled niches that other automakers had failed to notice and quickly came to change the way we viewed the automobile and its place in our society. If the automobile’s purpose was to get us from Point A to Point B, Chevrolet’s was to make sure we enjoyed the ride. Chevy consistently deﬁned and redeﬁned industry standards, setting the bar high and rarely failing to exceed expectations. The list of game-changing Chevys is far longer than one might initially suspect, and the task of whittling that list down to just 10 vehicles is daunting The 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air enough. 1955. The classic design changed little Presenting them in any sort of throughout the series’ lifetime, making superlative ranking would require more Chevy’s trucks universally recognizable. disclaimers about the subjective nature While the design was often imitated, it of the list than most would be willing was never surpassed. In fact, the truck’s to read. Here, then, are 10 of Chevy’s best — in iconic features served as inspiration for the design of the Lansing-built SSR. chronological order.
LANSING STATE JOURNAL FILE PHOTO
1912 Series C Classic Six
1953 and 1963 Corvettes
The 1912 Classic Six was the ﬁrst vehicle to carry the Chevrolet nameplate. Its elegant appearance and solid engineering ensured that it would not be the last. The sedan was rightly criticized at the time as being overpriced — but as a luxury touring car, it set the gold standard for successors to follow. The four-door, which came with electric lighting and a folding top, featured a six-cylinder and a top speed of about 65 mph. Chevy sold nearly 9,000 of them in 1912 and 1913.
The Corvette inspires a passion in its owners — and an envy among their friends and neighbors — rarely seen elsewhere in the automotive world. The Corvette lives just outside the price range The 1963 Corvette Stingray. of Chevy’s generally affordable lineup, but it’s close enough to trigger an aspiraof the decade. It’s nearly impossible to tional sentiment in nearly anyone. imagine a ’50s-era diner or drive-in withIt’s inarguably one of the best sports out the requisite ﬂeet of Bel Airs in the cars in the world, and while few of us will parking lot. Of course, that’s partly due ever sit behind the wheel of a fantastito the car’s graceful design, with crisp, cally priced exotic supercar, most of us clean, tasteful lines that artists have been can imagine ourselves in a Corvette — drawn to — and drawing — for decades, someday. as well as the fact that there are plenty Even after nearly 60 years, the Corof Bel Airs still around to show up in vette continues to grab our attention in a period ﬁlms and television programs. But way that no other American car has man- the fact is that they really were everyaged to do. It pulls us into the dealership, where. In the 1957 model year alone, draws us to the center of the showroom Chevy sold nearly three-quarters of a milﬂoor and seemingly looks us over, sizing lion Bel Airs. In 1958, Chevy added the us up, just as we are doing to it. And that Impala to the top of the Bel Air lineup, last, over-the-shoulder glance as we head offering fans an even bigger, more powerout to take delivery of a more practical, ful vehicle that would go on to become the more affordable Malibu lets us know that best-selling car in America for much of a it’s OK, because the ’Vette will still be decade. there, waiting for us, when we’re ready. Each new generation of Corvette brings with it an unprecedented amount of technological prowess and an impressive list of performance statistics, but it’s the 1953 — the ﬁrst — and the 1963 — the most strikingly designed — that even die-hard Corvette fans long for. The ’53, with its clean, classic lines set the standard for power and performance. Available exclusively in white with a red interior, only 300 were made for the public — and all of them were assembled in Flint. The ’63 Sting Ray, with its iconic split rear window, was based on a concept 1969 Camaro SS designed, in part, on the lines of a shark. If the Corvette was America’s dream The similarity wasn’t skin-deep, either: car, the Camaro was its dream come true. Anyone daring challenge the ’63 might as Introduced in 1967, Chevy’s remarkably well have been a clownﬁsh taking on a affordable pony car had no trouble holdgreat white. ing its own with the Mustang. Ford may have created the class, but the ’69 SS dominated it. Prized by collectors for its wider, lower stance and deep-recessed headlights, the design was so iconic that Chevy turned to it to ﬁnd the inspiration for its 2010 Camaro.
1935 Carryall Suburban The ﬁrst SUV. Although the SUV craze began to wane early in the days of $3 gas and full-size models have largely given way to car-based crossovers, no one can deny the impact the sport utility vehicle had on America’s driving habits — or the place it holds in automotive history. Perceived as cooler than a station wagon, more macho than a minivan and more practical than a truck for hauling life’s most precious cargo, the SUV was the ultimate go-anywhere, carry-everything vehicle. Little wonder, then, that they racked up tens of millions of sales during their heydey. And it all began with the Suburban. Introduced in 1933 for military and government use, the Suburban is now in its 11th generation — making it the longestlived nameplate in production.
1957 Bel Air (top of page) and 1958 Impala (above)
Chevy’s ﬁrst Advance Design trucks went on sale in June 1947, and were the best-selling trucks in America from their debut until they were retired in
The Bel Air is so synonymous with 1950s culture that youngsters could be forgiven for thinking it was the only new car offered for sale during the latter half
Chevy’s version of the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia crossovers debuted more than two years after its Lambda siblings but quickly managed to outpace them both in sales. The Traverse, which has been assembled in Lansing since the Saturn Outlook was phased out, is consistently a sales leader for GM. The Traverse has been key in weaning consumers off the gas-guzzling SUV bandwagon, delivering up to 24 mpg on
This column was written by LSJ Media copy editor and car aﬁcionado Don Pepper.
COURTESY OF GENERAL MOTORS
the highway without sacriﬁcing space or creature comforts. That gives drivers one more reason to keep buying American.
2011-2012 Cruze Chevy’s latest eco-friendly and environmentally conscious model was an instant hit for GM. In fact, it was so successful that last June it became the best-selling car in America. Although it slipped to No. 2 in July and No. 3 in August as Japanese manufacturers returned to full production after the tsunami, it accomplished something that few other Chevys had managed to achieve in recent decades. Weak foreign competition certainly played a role in the Cruze’s sales performance, but so did the lousy economy — and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon. With wages down, unemployment in the double digits and the price of gas going nowhere but up, the Cruze is the shining star in GM’s small-car lineup. It comes nicely equipped at a hair under $17,000, and GM says the 42 mpg Eco model offers the best highway mileage of any gas-engine vehicle in America. In fact, it gets better mileage than even the hybrid versions of the Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry. It may not offer the cutting-edge, rangeextending technology of the Volt, but at less than half the price, it doesn’t have to.
CHEVROLET | 100 YEARS
Lansing State Journal • Thursday, November 3, 2011 • 11
NOT ALL CHEVYS WERE WINNERS Corvair, minivans and Geo brand among ‘failures’
20 years. Chevy probably should have given up on minivans after tanking with the dust buster-nosed 1990 Lumina APV. Instead, it spunkily asked, “Please, sir, may I have another?” and dropped a second bomb with the ‘97 Venture, which failed both as a Chevrolet and when rebadged for Europe as the Opel Sintra. Bafﬂingly, Chevy then went back to the APV’s playbook and gave the 2005 Uplander a funny-looking nose. The Uplander repelled parents like ﬂeas at a petting zoo.
Mark Phelan Detroit Free Press
DETROIT — Chevrolet has had its share of strikeouts to go with its hits. Some of Chevy’s biggest ﬂops came when the brand overreached with new technologies that weren’t ready yet. Others limped onto the road when management decided Chevrolet had to offer a vehicle, but General Motors Co. didn’t invest enough to do it right. Here are some cases where Chevy didn’t run deep. They sank.
1923 Copper-cooled Chevrolet
The best thing you can say about this ill-conceived idea is that Chevy quit building it fast. Only 500 Chevrolet M-series cars with the air-cooled 135-cubic-inch four-cylinder were produced. Engineering genius Charles F. Kettering — also responsible for the electric starter, unleaded gasoline, diesel locomotive engines and Freon for air-conditioning and refrigeration — wanted to build a small, light engine that was cooled by blowing air over U-shaped copper ﬁns attached to its cylinders. The cooling system failed, leading to overheating, knocking and reduced power. General Motors would not build another air-cooled engine
The Lumina was one in a line of minivans that didn’t capture the attention of car buyers. until the star-crossed Chevrolet Corvair in the 1960s.
The Corvair was a noble idea that became synonymous with Detroit’s failures. Chevrolet’s ﬁrst attempt to build a sophisticated, fuel-efﬁcient compact car, it was an epic public relations ﬂop. The Corvair’s real and perceived failings launched Ralph Nader’s career and did immeasurable damage to GM’s image. The Corvair deserved better. It boasted an air-cooled, rearmounted engine — hallmarks of the iconic Porsche 911 sports car — plus good passenger and luggage space. Chevrolet sold
1.8 million Corvairs. Had the Corvair succeeded, Chevy might have gone on to be a global leader in small cars. Instead, it initiated decades of compact futility.
Every minivan Chevrolet ever built
Building a great minivan can’t be easy. If it were, Chevrolet would not have failed catastrophically and repeatedly for nearly
WHAT’S UP WITH THE BOWTIE?
Chevrolet’s famous emblem is an icon of American advertising, but its roots are shrouded in mystery
hevrolet’s bowtie emblem is one of the most widely recognized logos in the world, but where did it come from?
Even General Motors isn’t quite sure. The bowtie logo was introduced by company cofounder William C. Durant in late 1913. But how it came to be synonymous with the brand is open to wide interpretation, with four versions of the story cropping up.
IT CAME FROM WALLPAPER Durant’s version of how the logo came into existence is well known. The long-accepted story, conﬁrmed by Durant himself, was that it was inspired by the wallpaper design in a Parisian hotel. According to The Chevrolet Story of 1961, an ofﬁcial company publication issued in celebration of Chevrolet’s 50th anniversary: “It originated in Durant’s imagination when, as a world traveler in 1908, he saw the pattern marching off into inﬁnity as a design on wallpaper in a French hotel. He tore off a piece of the wallpaper and kept it to show friends, with the thought that it would make a good nameplate for a car.”
A DINNERTIME SKETCH In 1929, Durant’s daughter, Margery, published a book entitled, My Father. In it, she told how Durant sometimes doodled nameplate designs on pieces of paper at the dinner table. “I think it was between the soup and the fried chicken one night that he
sketched out the design that is used on the Chevrolet car to this day,” she wrote.
A HOTEL STAY IN VIRGINIA More than half a century later, another Bowtie origin was recounted in a 1986 issue of Chevrolet Pro Management Magazine based on a 13-year-old interview with Durant’s widow, Catherine. She recalled how she and her husband were on holiday in Hot Springs, Va., in 1912. While reading a newspaper in their hotel room, Durant spotted a design and exclaimed, “I think this would be a very good emblem for the Chevrolet.” Unfortunately, at the time, Mrs. Durant didn’t clarify what the motif was or how it was used.
THE SWISS FLAG One other explanation attributes the design to a stylized version of the cross of the Swiss ﬂag. Louis Chevrolet was born in Switzerland at La Chaux-de-Fonds, Canton of Neuchâtel, to French parents, on Christmas Day 1878. Whichever origin is true, within a few years, the bowtie would emerge as the deﬁnitive Chevrolet logo. An October 2, 1913 edition of The Washington Post seems, so far, to be the earliest known example of the symbol being used to advertise the brand.
— Green Shoot Media
1916 1940s 1957 1960s 1977 2000 TODAY
Geo How badly did Chevrolet lose its way in the ‘80s? The brand that became a giant by giving Americans more car for their money outsourced the job of developing and making small cars to a motley assortment of Japanese automakers. While GM spent billions of dollars creating the Saturn small-car brand, Chevrolet turned to Isuzu, Suzuki and Toyota. The project was as half-hearted as it was ill-conceived. Chevy didn’t want its name on the small cars, so the Geo sub-brand was born. Most of the vehicles failed, but the Geo Prizm — a rebadged Toyota Corolla — was renamed the Chevy Prizm when the brand shut down.
GM wants Chevrolet brand to rank among world’s best By Chrissie Thompson Detroit Free Press
DETROIT — In its 100-year history, Chevrolet became America’s brand, fell from regard and now is setting its sights higher. The General Motors Co. division wants the global reach, proﬁtability and stature of the world’s top brands, such as Apple, Google and Coca-Cola. “We have an aspirational goal ... We understand our direct competitors are Toyota, Volkswagen, Hyundai ... Ford,” GM marketing boss Joel Ewanick told analysts in August. “But it’s time for us to clearly differentiate our brand and align closer to the true global brands, like an Apple. It’s time for an automotive company to step out and try to address consumers and their needs in a way that’s never been done before.” Companies often set their sights on the iPadand iPhone-maker’s branding success, built on Apple Inc.’s history of delivering refreshingly stylish, userfriendly products just as consumers are ready to embrace them. But a GM-commissioned study revealed the work ahead for Chevy: If the world’s top brands are ranked by global reach, proﬁtability and branding strength, not a single automotive company breaks into the top 24 list led by Internet search giant Google Inc. and Apple, Ewanick said. In fact, in the most recent ranking of global brand value by consultancy Interbrand, Chevy didn’t even crack the top 100. To improve, lead marketers say, GM’s staff needs to continue its realignment with reality. The brand’s new talent, many from coastal market favorites such as South Korea’s Hyundai and Japan’s Subaru, has imported a recognition of
how far Chevy has to go in states such as California. The RenCen crew also is learning to base its decisions on actual consumers instead of marketers’ ideas, with the help of new consumer proﬁles and an ofﬁce ﬂoor designed like a model home, outﬁtted with video game consoles and furniture from Ikea and Crate and Barrel. Ewanick, of Hyundai Motors Corp. fame, arrived at GM last spring and set out to lead a charge to regain Americans’ attention. To start, the focus was on Chevy, which makes up more than 70 percent of GM’s sales in its home country. The mainstream brand’s U.S. market share has generally declined since the mid-1960s, so that Chevys last year made up 11.2 percent of U.S. sales to individual customers. “The same way you’re surprised (in Detroit) when you see an import car, you’re going to be surprised at how few domestic cars you see in southern California,” said Chris Perry, who left Hyundai’s California headquarters last year to market Chevys and now runs all of GM’s U.S. marketing. To focus marketing decisions back on the customer, GM spent eight months redoing proﬁles of target consumers for each of its brands, starting with customers’ lifestyles and car-buying habits. “The whole point … was getting close to the consumers and realizing that we’re not the center of the universe. The consumer is,” said GM marketing strategist Michael Bojarczyk, who oversaw the two-month renovation of the ﬂoor. “This will cause people to stop and think outside the United States.” That’s an increasing priority, as GM seeks to make Chevrolet and Cadillac the mainstream and luxury prongs of its global strategy.
12 • Thursday, November 3, 2011 • Lansing State Journal
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C E L E B R A T I N G
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42 2012 CHEVROLET CRUZE $16,236
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CHEVROLET | 100 YEARS
Lansing State Journal • Thursday, November 3, 2011 • 13 NAME THAT TUNE
CHEVROLET SONGS If you like songs about Chevy, Pandora has the playlist for you. To celebrate Chevrolet’s centennial, and in recognition of the Pandora app on Chevy’s new MyLink infotainment system, Pandora is offering Chevrolet Centennial Radio, a rotation of 100 songs that mention Chevrolet and its cars. The range of songs is as wide as the distance from a Corvette to an minivan. Springsteen’s moving “Thunder Road” is there, but so are Weird Al Yankovic’s snarky “Dare to be Stupid,” and Prince’s steamy “Little Red Corvette.” Chevrolet and Pandora started with 600-plus songs. The ones the most listeners liked made the cut. Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Lyle Lovett each landed three tracks in the top 100. Pandora doesn’t have the rights to Beach Boys songs, so you won’t hear “409.” The list also excludes songs with obscenity. You can hear the songs at www.pandora.com/chevy100. Here’s Chevy Centennial Radio’s playlist, alphabetically by title:
Crowds gather in 1955 for a new car announcement in the Bud Kouts showroom in Lansing. COURTESY PHOTO
GREAT ANTICIPATION New car unveilings used to be ‘exciting time’ Melissa Anders firstname.lastname@example.org
As a kid, John LaRosa rode his bike to the nearby Chevy dealership every time a new model would come out. “It was an exciting time when new models got released,” said LaRosa, 55, General Motors Co.’s Lansing area manager for the paint shop. Long before the Internet and multi-million dollar television commercials, new car unveilings were a major event at local car dealerships in the 1950s and 1960s. Men, women and children would pack into showrooms to see the latest design and styling of classics like the Chevrolet Bel Air, Corvette, Corvair and Camaro. “In 1960, these windows were all papered off when the ﬁrst Corvair came out, and they hid cars back then,” said Dick Iding,
This 1957 Bel Air convertible was revealed at a gathering at Bud Kouts Chevrolet in Lansing. COURTESY PHOTO
58, president and general manager of Bud Kouts Chevrolet in Lansing. “They actually brought them in carriers with covers on them. They didn’t leak it.” Well, maybe they’d leak it, if you were lucky. In the week or two leading up
to the reveal, dealerships would hide the car wherever they had space, even someone’s garage if it wasn’t being used, said Bernard Feldpausch, 87, retired owner of Bee’s Chevrolet in St. Johns. “During that time, some people who were terribly inter-
ested, they would show it to them before you put it on the showroom ﬂoor,” he said. Revealing new models wasn’t simply a matter of pulling a sheet off the car. “One time in our case when we were still downtown, I had a broken front window anyway and I broke it the rest of the way and I parked the Corvair half way through the garage for the show,” Feldpausch said. Another time he put a car on four bowling balls and deﬂated the tires around them. A sign on the car read, ‘This is a car that’s on the ball.’ “They did all kinds of things when they brought the car out to bring the people in,” he said. Back then, Chevrolet released new models on more of an annual basis each fall. Now, vehicles are released throughout the year. “It lost a little bit of its purity I think,” LaRosa said. “And it’s lost a little bit of its excitement.”
Readers share stories about America’s brand Drag racing in my friend’s Chevy — once I spent much of the summer of 1956 attending a Navy Aviation Electronics Technician school in Millington Tenn., about 40 miles north of Memphis. If there was a radio playing in our barracks, we got to listen to “You Ain’t Nothing But a Hound Dog” about a gazillion times each day. We spent most of our off duty hours cruising around and getting lost in Memphis. One of my friends had a bright shiny 1956 red and white, 2 door Chevrolet hardtop. One day he let me drive it and while we sat waiting for a trafﬁc light to turn green, another new Chevy pulled up beside us. The driver looked over grinning and gunning his engine. It was full of good ol’ southern boys and they wanted to drag race. We both ﬂoored it when the light turned green. Just beyond the intersection was a downgrade where the road went under a railway bridge. It was only one lane under the bridge with massive, ugly, steel columns along both sides of the roadway. I knew they would back off. They did not. They knew those Yankee boys would back off, but we didn’t either. We went through that underpass side by side. If we had had another coat of paint on either vehicle, we would have been in big trouble. My friend never let me drive his car again after that.
Ron Haag Delta Township
SSR good for hauling ﬂoats and tree branches I have bought several Lansing-built vehicles over the years. My 2004 Chevy SSR is my favorite Lansing-built vehicle. I’ve owned it for over six
Those darn details. That Chevy took me on many trips to Canada, across the country and throughout Michigan. I logged about 150,000 miles before I turned it in. Since then I’ve had many cars — even the Lansing built STS I leased in 2005. In 2008, I found myself back at Shaheen Chevrolet — this time on American Road in south Lansing — back in Ralph’s ofﬁce without my aunt. I bought a new Michigan-built Malibu. I ﬁnd myself loving this Chevy as I did my ﬁrst one. COURTESY PHOTO There’s something to be said Neil Miller of Grand Ledge says the SSR is his favorite of the Lansingabout your ﬁrst love. These days made cars. He likes to use his to pull ﬂoats in various parades. — still traveling the state, mostly with my boss — sometimes I years. Shaheen to me) and he came think he loves my car more than My favorite thing to do with out and greeted her with a big I do. By far it’s been the best my Chevy SSR is to pull the hug and smile. We retreated back car I’ve ever owned. Affordable, museum replica for the Grand to his ofﬁce where they talked great gas mileage, roomy and Ledge Area Historical Society in about MSU and how they haven’t most of all stylish. People still Grand Ledge parades with my seen each other in a long time. come up to me and ask what’s two Lansing granddaughters on By this time I’m thinking my that? The new Cadillac? And board. aunt knows the owner of the I respond nope, new Chevy. Another thing I like to do with dealership. I’m going to get the Thanks Chevy for 100 years of my SSR is to borrow a trailer and super hookup of a lifetime. That producing a great product and haul tree branches to the recysaid, Mr. Shaheen says to me, thanks to the UAW men and cling center. My neighbors can’t ‘So, what can you afford a month women who build them. believe I use it for that and I say, and how much do you have for a Tony Baltimore “Hey, it’s a truck.” down payment?’ Lansing Neil Miller That was a little strange Grand Ledge seeing how I thought we’d pick If my Corvette could talk, a car ﬁrst and talk affordability oh the stories it would tell later. Haha! That’s not how it My ﬁrst love — a brand works. In July 1960, I purchased my I ﬁgured I could do about $250 1959 Corvette at Jerry McCarthy new Chevy Cavalier a month. So immediately we go Chevrolet on Woodward Avenue I was 21 years old and workout to the lot and Mr. Shaheen in Detroit. ing for the State of Michigan. I shows me a row of Cavaliers. I I still own the car and it is all was in desperate need of a car. I wasn’t thinking a Cavalier. original. (paint, engine, interior) had been borrowing or using my Disappointed a little or a lot, I I drive it often in the summer. aunt’s car, who also worked for picked a four-door deep red one. It’s great fun after dinner to the state. He put a plate on it and said take take it for a drive to the local ice My aunt, being a little fed it for a ride. I did. By the time I cream store with my wife, Anita. up with me borrowing her car got back, I really loved the car. If the Corvette could only (smile), told me about her old Of course I would have to add talk, I’m sure it could tell some and dear friend Ralph Shaheen. a CD player, but that’s it. It was great stories. Our grandchildren My aunt and I would were carbasic. It didn’t even have power love to go for rides. pooling to work one morning in windows. But it was new with 8 Happy birthday to Chevrolet October 1998, and she detoured miles on it, a full tank of gas and here’s to the 200th. All the to Shaheen Chevrolet on South and it was mine. $500 down and best. Martin Luther King Boulevard. a monthly payment of $372 — a Don Baron She asked for Ralph (Mr. little higher than I wanted to pay. Lansing
» “99 In the Shade,” Bon Jovi » “All the Best,” John Prine » “American Pie,” Don McLean » “Amy’s Back in Austin,” Little Texas » “Ball and Chain,” Social Distortion » “Blitz,” Audio Adrenaline » “Blue (Da Ba Dee) (Remix),” Eiffel 65 » “Blue Jeans,” Silvertide » “Captain Jack,” Billy Joel » “Chattahoochee,” Alan Jackson » “Chevrolet,” ZZ Top » “Chevy Van,” Sammy Johns » “Chrome,” Trace Adkins » “Contact,” Citizen Cope » “Crazy About Her,” Rod Stewart » “Crocodile Rock,” Elton John » “Dare to be Stupid,” Weird Al Yankovic » “Don’t Forget to Remember Me,” Carrie Underwood » “Dr. Feelgood (Live),” Motley Crue » “Drive South,” John Hiatt » “El Camino,” Ween » “El Tejano,” Cowboy Troy » “Every Time It Rains,” George Strait » “Fall in Love,” Kenny Chesney » “Family Reserve,” Lyle Lovett » “Fightin’ Words,” Trace Adkins » “Girls with Guitars,” Wynonna Judd » “Go ‘Head,” Mystikal » “Go Lil’ Camaro Go,” The Ramones » “Going Back to Cali,” LL Cool J » “Here I Am,” Lyle Lovett » “Here’s to You,” Rascal Flatts » “How Bizarre,” OMC » “Hustlin’,” Rick Ross » “I Can Only Think of One,” Dierks Bentley » “I Go Back,” Kenny Chesney » “I Got You,” Dwight Yoakam » “I Learned That From You,” Sara Evans » “I Won All the Battles,” Tracy Lawrence » “I’ll Be Your Johnny on the Spot,” Ween » “I’m Customized,” The Cramps » “I’m Just a Girl,” Deana Carter » “I’ve Got a Rock ‘N’ Roll Heart,” Eric Clapton » “If I Stay,” Tracy Byrd » “Jesse Went to War,” Marcy Playground » “Joe Rey,” Fountains of Wayne » “Keeping the Faith,” Billy Joel » “Less Than Zero,” Elvis Costello » “Let You Go,” The Clarks » “Little Red Corvette,” Prince » “Lost in the Flood (Live 2000),” Bruce Springsteen » “Lucky 4 You (Tonight I’m Just Me),” SheDaisy » “Make Me a Chevy,” The Promise Ring » “Metropolis,” Trace Adkins » “Miss Popularity,” Jordan Pruitt » “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song),” Billy Joel » “Mud On the Tires,” Brad Paisley » “Natural Beauty,” Neil Young » “Neutron Dance,” The Pointer Sisters » “Night Moves,” Bob Seger » “One Bud Wiser,” Gretchen Wilson » “Paint the Town Redneck,” J.M. Montgomery » “Pickin’ Wildﬂowers,” Keith Anderson » “Picture Perfect,” Nelly Furtado » “Putting the Damage On,” Tori Amos » “Racing in the Street,” Bruce Springsteen » “Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy),” Jim Croce » “Real Gone,” Sheryl Crow » “Renegade,” Tim McGraw » “Repetition,” David Bowie » “Ridin’ In My Chevy,” Snoop Dogg » “Riding With Private Malone,” David Ball » “Right Time of the Night,” Jennifer Warnes » “She’s in Love With the Boy,” Trisha Yearwood » “Small Town Girl,” Kellie Pickler » “Something On,” The Tragically Hip » “Song of the South,” Alabama » “Still Love You,” Rod Stewart » “Superstar,” Sheryl Crow » “Suzy and Jeffrey,” Blondie » “Tannin’ Bed Song,” Shawn Mullins » “The Greeting Song,” Red Hot Chili Peppers » “Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man,” Rolling Stones » “Three Marlenas,” The Wallﬂowers » “Thunder Road,” Bruce Springsteen » “Thundering Hearts,” John Mellencamp » “Tim McGraw,” Taylor Swift » “Twentieth Century Fox,” .38 Special » “Unappreciated,” Cherish » “Uneasy Rider,” Charlie Daniels » “Union Sundown,” Bob Dylan » “Water,” The Who » “West Texas Highway,” Lyle Lovett » “When I Think About Leaving,” Kenny Chesney » “When You Close Your Eyes,” Night Ranger » “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?” Paula Cole » “Why Do We Want What We Know We Can’t Have?” Reba McEntire » “You Never Know Just How Good You’ve Got It,” Tracy Byrd » “You Win My Love,” Shania Twain » “Young Blood,” Rickie Lee Jones
14 • Thursday, November 3, 2011 • Lansing State Journal
AT BUD KOUTS WE HAVE BEEN SELLING CHEVROLETS
FOR BETTER THAN HALF A CENTURY!
Wolverine Chevrolet Company 1953 - prior owner to Bud Kouts Chevrolet
New car announcement Bud Kouts showroom 1957 1957 Belair Convertible
Bud Kouts showroom 1955
1955 new car announcement in the Bud Kouts showroom
1955 new car announcement in the Bud Kouts service dept.
Bud Kouts showroom 1963
Bud Kouts service ad 1960
Bud Kouts display/parking lot 1955. NOTE: I127 expressway was not built yet.
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2801 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing • 374-0900 • www.budkoutschevy.com
CHEVROLET | 100 YEARS
Lansing State Journal • Thursday, November 3, 2011 • 15
MEET GREATER LANSING’S DEALERS SAWYERS CHEVROLET » 13200 Old U.S. 27 South, DeWitt » Employees: 44 » Owner: R.W. “Buzz” Sawyers » Opened: July 2008 after taking over Annie Rae Chevrolet » Robert Sawyers, general manager: “Fifteen years ago, when I had my son (when I was a Pontiac dealer for 25 years) I named him Robert Shane Sawyers. His initials are RSS like the Camaro RSS. I named him after a Chevy. I told my father how’s that for some forethought? Twelve years later we became a Chevy dealer.”
MATTHEW DAE SMITH/LANSING STATE JOURNAL
Sundance Chevrolet in Grand Ledge is among the local Chevrolet dealerships that have renovated their locations as part of a corporate plan.
Chevy sites are getting a more uniform look Melissa Anders email@example.com
Lansing-area Chevrolet dealerships will start looking a lot more alike as they go through similar remodeling projects. General Motors Co. is working with dealerships throughout the country to update their facilities so that each product line — Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC — has a distinctive look to the showroom. Construction work is wrapping up at Graff Chevrolet in Okemos and Sawyers Chevrolet MATTHEW DAE SMITH/LANSING STATE JOURNAL in DeWitt. Sawyers more than doubled The Bud Kouts Chevrolet dealership in Lansing is undergoing $1.8 milthe size of its showroom and exlion in renovations. panded its service department by 25 percent, said General Manag$1 million in renovations, and end of the month. er Robert Sawyers. Bud Kouts Chevrolet in Lansing “Showroom ﬂoor tiles, paint Sundance Chevrolet in Grand expects to complete its $1.8 milcolors, furniture, cubicles — Ledge recently ﬁnished about lion remodeling project by the they’re all going to be very simi-
lar throughout all Chevy stores in the country,” said Dick Iding, general manager and president. Glenn Buege said he plans to remodel his Chevrolet dealership in Eaton Rapids by sometime in 2013, while dealer Jeff Feldpausch said he hopes to start work on Bee’ Chevrolet in St. Johns next year. Shaheen Chevrolet in Lansing completed its image update in 2008. Despite excitement over expanded service areas and spruced up showrooms, some dealers were skeptical of how renovations will impact business or were disappointed that GM’s requirements don’t allow more personalization of showrooms. GM is helping dealers with a portion of construction costs. The amount depends on the size of the dealership and remodeling costs.
THE ORIGINAL CHEVROLET
Co-founder Louis wanted to build performance cars
GLENN BUEGE CHEVROLET » 1606 S. Main St., Eaton Rapids » Employees: 26 » Owner: Glenn Buege » Opened: 1993 after purchasing former Cooper Chevy Olds dealership » Glenn Buege: “Two years ago, we had all kinds of people from all over show up to see the (Chevy) Buege race cars ... the interest in racing was unbelievable. We had several hundred show up to look at the cars.”
TEAM ONE CHEVROLET BUICK GMC » 1616 Lansing Road, Charlotte » Employees: 70 » Opened: 1986, after buying Fowler Chevrolet and Oldsmobile which had been in operation for about 40 years » Owner: Dan Shaheen » Dan Shaheen: “The Camaro and Corvette — I’ve had the most fun owning those cars and driving them for special events and taking them on the winding roads. Having the top down in those vehicles is just a great, liberating feeling.”
YOUNG CHEVROLET CADILLAC BUICK GMC » 1500 E. Main St., Owosso » Employees: 140 » Owners: Tony Young, Mike Young, Bruce Young, Marie YoungRowlinson » Opened: 1981 as Oldsmobile Cadillac dealership; purchased the former Harrelson Chevrolet dealership in 2001. » Tony Young: “I can remember Tony Young before we even came out here we were a Chrysler dealer. Even back then, my dad drove a new Chevy Corvette every year. As a Chrysler dealer he was driving a new Corvette every year. When I was a little kid that’s how we got dropped off at school.”
By Zlati Meyer Detroit Free Press
Like its famous bowtie badge, Chevrolet’s past and present intersect at several ironic points. The car company that has come to stand for iconic Americana was founded by a European. The disagreement that drove Louis Chevrolet from what would later become General Motors Co. — over the role of production and power in Chevrolet cars — is at the heart of GM’s corporate strategy now. And the manufacturer that epitomized 1950s car bling, late 20th-century engine-growlers and unsafe cars now produces a lineup of fuel-efﬁcient, safe cars, including a hit electric vehicle. Chevrolet was co-founded by an already famous French-speaking Swiss race car driver and engineer named Louis Chevrolet on Nov. 3, 1911, in Flint. His partner was ex- and soon-to-be-again GM chief William Crapo Durant, who wanted to trade on the famous racer’s name. The ﬁrst product? The six-cylinder luxury model called the Classic Six, one of only four Chevrolets that Louis Chevrolet would design for the company (along with the Baby Grand, the Royal Mail and the L Light Six). Initially a bicycle racer, Chevrolet, who brieﬂy worked for Italy’s Fiat SpA (current owner of GM competitor Chrysler Group LLC) in 1905, started racing cars that year, setting a world record of 68 mph in his ﬁrst-ever automobile race, the Three Miles in New York. At that same time, he built his ﬁrst racer, which enabled him to add 51 mph to his record, and earned him the nickname “the daredevil Frenchman.” He went on to race for Buick, which is how he met Durant, but Chevrolet abandoned that life when his youngest brother died following a race accident.
» 1748 W. Grand River, Okemos » Employees: 62 » Owners: Matt Sloan and Chris Graff » Opened: September 2006 after purchasing PresKool dealership; part of Hank Graff Sloan group of dealerships » Matt Sloan: “To me, it’s always the Corvette, that seems to be the American dream. As a child, I always grew up hoping I’d someday own a Corvette ... I’m still waiting for that dream to become reality.”
COURTESY PHOTO/GENERAL MOTORS
Louis Chevrolet was a race-car driver before becoming a co-founder of Chevrolet. In 1914, Chevrolet left the company after arguing with Durant about what the company’s future should be. Durant wanted to make inexpensive cars and lots of them a la Henry Ford. Chevrolet insisted they focus on “high-powered speed cars” and elite, expensive autos. Chevrolet went on to start other car companies, which ultimately fell apart, and then worked as a simple mechanic. He died — still smarting from big losses incurred during the Depression — in 1963. Durant, the man who drove Chevrolet away, was himself gone from GM by 1920. Decades later, Detroit based GM would blend the dichotomous approaches by producing lowcost cars as well as more highend automobiles, such as the Corvette. Durant’s position crystallized in 1915 with the Model 490, named for its $490 price, $5 cheaper than the top-selling Model T from Dearborn’s Ford Motor Co. That started a rivalry between the two companies that has stretched into the 21st century.
Louis Chevrolet left the company he co-founded with William Durant just three years after it launched. COURTESY PHOTO/GENERAL MOTORS
In 1917, Chevy formally became a division of GM. Now, 94 years later, Chevy is still GM’s largest global brand, selling an estimated 4 million vehicles a year in more than 130 countries. With that, it entered a period of much growth and innovation in the auto industry. Chevy’s contributions included the world’s ﬁrst SUV (a station wagon called a Suburban Carryall) and the vava-voom of ﬁns and chrome that
dominated the 1950s with icons like the Bel Air. Corvette’s debut in 1953 — and a revamped version two years later with the soon-to-be iconic V8 engine — was perhaps a nod back to Louis Chevrolet’s previously dismissed vision for the company. Chevy’s place in the pantheon of all-American autos was solidiﬁed with cars like the Corvette Sting Ray in 1963 and the Camaro in 1967.
Four additional local dealerships — Bee’s Chevrolet in St. Johns, Bud Kouts Chevrolet in Lansing, Shaheen Chevrolet in Lansing and Sundance Chevrolet in Grand Ledge — are featured on Pages 6-7.
TALE FROM THE LINE
TEST DRIVER Carol Bemis, a shift leader in the trim shop at GM’s Lansing Delta Township assembly plant, drives a company car. Her latest assignment, the Chevrolet Cruze, has been a hit with everyone from her truck-loving husband to strangers in a parking lot. Bemis brought the car to Menard’s one day and noticed a girl and her parents looking at the car. The girl, 15, was hoping to get a Cruze for her 16th birthday. Bemis offered to let them see the interior and ended up driving around the parking lot with the girl’s father, then gave him the name of a salesman at a local Chevy dealership. “That’s the kind of stuff that I like to do,” Bemis said. “People see that Chevy, especially the Cruze, they’re like, ‘Oh, that’s kind of cool looking. It’s really sharp.’ ”
www.sawyerschevy.com • www.sawyerschevy.com • www.sawyerschevy.com
Stop in and help celebrate SAWYERS
Sawyers Chevrolet has expanded our store to give our customers a MORE convenient sales experience with all new showroom MORE convenient service with all new customer service drive-thru. MORE new and used car inventory than ever before. Over 500 vehicles to choose from! ch
Come help us kick off Chevrolet’s second 100 years with the
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13200 U.S.27 in DeWitt • 517-669-4100
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16 • Thursday, November 3, 2011 • Lansing State Journal
11-3-11 Chevy 100 years