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Billy, Alfred, and General Motors by William Pelfrey

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CHAPTER FIVE

Restless in Flint, Antsy in New York

Although he became a player in the auto industry much later than either Alfred Sloan or Henry Ford, Billy Durant had actually taken his first automobile ride long before either of them, even before Ransom (Ranny) Olds and Henry Leland had begun their serious development work with the internal combustion engine. The year was 1889, when Billy’s own horse-drawn carriage business was booming, and the machine was a steam-powered vehicle owned by a cousin in Flint. Annoyed by its noise, clumsiness, and slow pace, Billy saw it as no threat to the carriage and buggy.

Durant did not come to picture the automobile as a practical machine, let alone a viable business, until he was in his forties and already ...

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