More Interesting, Little Known, Seldom Talked About Chevrolet History

Dateline: 11.8.11

So, what became of the three Chevrolet brothers, Louis, Gaston, and Arthur?

The Chevrolet Brothers: Louis Chevrolet, Gaston Chevrolet, & Arthur Chevrolet

We might be learning more about Chevrolet than their public relations department would like us to know. One of my favorite car blogs is from Hemmings Motor News. Every day they serve up a heap’n, help’n of automotive history and fun. Today they posted an interesting story about the final resting place of the three Chevrolet brothers – Louis, Gaston, and Arthur. As Chevrolet rolls into their centennial celebration year, I’m sure there’ll be all sorts of special features, articles, videos, and books. So, let the fun begin!

Louis Chevrolet in his senior years.

Regardless of what your favorite auto maker happens to be, there’s no argument that “Chevrolet” is one of the all-time top iconic brands in American popular culture. Although the name may well have originated in France, it turns out that Louis Chevrolet emigrated from Switzerland. But first, he went through Paris, then Montreal, before arriving in Brooklyn in 1901. Louis had two younger brothers, Arthur and Gaston.


The Chevrolet car company story is fairly well known. Louis teamed up with William Crapo Durant to form the Chevrolet Company in 1911. Louis and Willy had a falling out in 1915 and Willy sold his shares in the company. With some interesting money machinations, Durant used his funds to eventually buy the controlling shares of General Motors, the company he had lost a few years before. Then in 1917 Durant bought out Chevrolet and folded the name into his General Motors company. (This is starting to sound like a Gordon Gekko story!) Louis took his money and got into the auto racing business, but went broke by the time of the 1929 stock market crash. Needing a job, Louis ended up as a line mechanic in a Chevrolet factory. Although he was a mechanic first, it must have been a humiliating experience.


Here’s the first turn at the first Indy 500 in 1911. Arthur Chevrolet is somewhere in there.

What became of the other two brothers whose name became a cultural icon? Gaston Chevrolet first raced in the 1919 Indy 500 and came in 10th place. But it turned out that 1920 was Gaston’s year – sort of. He won the 1920 Indy 500 with an average speed of 86.63-mph – a very fast speed for the day. Later that year, Gaston was killed in a race at the very dangerous, one-mile board track in Beverly Hills, California. Ironically, because of the points structure at the time, Gaston posthumously won the  AAA National Championship. He was only 28-years old. Continue reading “More Interesting, Little Known, Seldom Talked About Chevrolet History”