A-Z of marques: No.10 Chevrolet

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Indy Lifestyle Online

The marque: Bedrock of the US carscape.

The history: Racing driver Louis Chevrolet teamed up with industrialist WC Durant in 1912 to build his own car. After the First World War, the pair's Chevrolet company helped form General Motors. Like Ford, Chevrolet has stretched across car categories. Between the wars, Chevrolet epitomised convention rather than innovation, but in the early 1950s came "America's only sports car". The Corvette, with a glassfibre body and all-independent suspension, was a stylistic and technological revelation.

In 1955 it got Chevrolet's small-block V8 engine: it passed 60 million in 1994 and is still in production. That engine, among others, also powered saloons and convertibles called Bel Air, Impala, Biscayne, Chevelle. But, worried by the success of the VW Beetle, Chevrolet made a bigger rival also with an air-cooled rear engine, albeit with six cylinders. But the Corvair did not handle well, causing a fast-track lawyer, called Ralph Nader to publish a savage attack on the motor industry's complacency. Unsafe At Any Speed doomed the Corvair. But Corvettes and Camaros got more muscular until 1973's energy crisis and California's smog up-ended the industry. Today, Chevys are smaller, front-wheel-drive cars, and in South America you can even buy a Chevrolet-badged Vauxhall Corsa supermini.

Defining model: 1963 Corvette Sting Ray, a fantasy made real.

They say: Of course we're not the same as Buick (or Pontiac, or Oldsmobile).

We say: It's the Dubya of Detroit.

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