William Crapo Durant

Born: 8 Dec 1861, Boston, MA
Died: 18 Mar 1947, New York, NY

Founder of General Motors

Common Ancestor:
Elizabeth Holder
8th Gr Grandmother
of Merle G Ladd
5th Gr Grandmother
of William C Durant
Elizabeth Chase Benjamin Chase
Samuel Baker Nathan Chase
Betsy Baker Benjamin Chase
Ebenezer Crowell Anne Almy Chase
Allen Crowell Mary Ann Slocum
Charles Crowell Rebecca F Crapo
Freeman S Crowell William C Durant
Graceland M Crowell  
Allen D Ladd  
Merle G Ladd  
Relationship to Merle G Ladd:
6th Cousin, 3 Times Removed
William Crapo "Billy" Durant (December 8, 1861–March 18, 1947) was a leading pioneer of the United States automobile industry, the founder of General Motors and Chevrolet who created the system of multi-brand holding companies with different lines of cars.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, he was the grandson of Michigan governor Henry H. Crapo. William was a high school dropout, yet had become a leading manufacturer of horse-drawn vehicles by 1890, based in Flint, Michigan. When approached to become General Manager of Buick in 1904, he made a similar success and was soon president of this horseless-vehicle company. In 1908 he arranged the incorporation by proxies of General Motors and quickly thereafter sold stock, and with the proceeds acquired Oldsmobile. The acquisitions of Oakland (now Pontiac), Cadillac, and parts companies followed in short order.

In 1910, Durant became financially overextended and banking interests assumed control, forcing him from management of GM. He then partnered with Louis Chevrolet in 1911 and started the Chevrolet company, and regained control of GM in 1915 in another merger, but lost it for good in 1920 to the DuPont interests.

In 1921 he established a new Durant Motors company, initially with one brand but later, as he had with General Motors, acquiring a range of companies whose cars were aimed at different markets. The cheapest brand was the Star, aimed at the person who would otherwise buy the obsolescent Model T Ford, while the Durant cars were mid-market, the Princeton line (designed, prototyped, and marketed but never produced) competed with Packard and Cadillac, and the ultra-luxurious Locomobile was the top of the line. However, he was unable to duplicate his former success, and the financial woes of the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression proved fatal as the company failed in 1933.