I'm sure most of you, during the course of your restoration, have purchased Delco-Remy, AC, AC Delco, United Delco, or perhaps even the extremely old, and somewhat rare, United Motors Service (UMS) parts for your GM vehicle. Did you ever wonder where these names came from, and what they mean? We did, so we decided to do a little research into the matter, and here's a few interesting, and little known facts we've come up with, along with some other tidbits of General Motors historical information.
First, to understand the how's and why's of all the original GM subsidiaries both past and present, one must also take a small look at the Grandfather of these offspring - General Motors. Since the inception of the motorcar, more than 1,600 different makes of automobiles have been produced in this country at one time or another. Far and above the rest, General Motors over the years has managed to build around itself, an infrastructure of internal suppliers second to none which have helped it outlast the long forgotten names of many of those now extinct automobile manufacturers.
HYATT/NEW DEPARTURE ball and roller bearings
Around 1888, E.D. Rockwell and A.F. Rockwell, who ran a hardware store in Florida, invented a doorbell run by clockwork called the "New Departure Bell". It was named so, because it was unlike anything else on the market. In 1889 they organized the New Departure Bell Company in Bristol, Connecticut, and later added a bicycle bell that became very popular. In 1898, the two brothers invented a device that would permit a bicycle to coast while the pedals remained stationary, and so, a year later, they added what was to be known as the "New Departure Coaster Brake" to their product line list. In 1908 the company started development and manufacture of ball bearings, and at one time, was the world's largest maker of ball bearings.
In 1892 John Wesley Hyatt organized the Hyatt Roller Bearing Company which were first used on Oldsmobile's, and later supplied most of the automobile industry's roller bearing requirements. In 1895, Alfred P. Sloan Jr. (once chairman of General Motors) started his business career working as a draftsman for Hyatt organization. Later, New Departure and Hyatt merged to become the "Hyatt/New Departure Company"
AC SPARK PLUGS
In 1878 Albert Champion was born in France. He was an avid race fan, and began competing in bicycle and motorcycle races. Shortly after the advent of the automobile, he gained an interest in auto mechanics and automobile racing. At that time, most spark plugs were imported from France, and were very expensive. Seeing a need for more spark plug manufacturers, Champion, along with W.C. Durant (who later became president of General Motors) opened the "Champion Ignition Company" (later to become Champion Spark Plug Company), a shop that manufactured spark plugs and magnetos for the fledgling auto industry. In 1905 a falling out between himself and his investors left Champion without a company, or a name, as the investors were allowed to keep the Champion name. A new company was formed and incorporated in October of 1908 with the backing of the Buick Motor Co., and renamed it the "AC Spark Plug Company", hence his initials are what the "AC" means. (AC = Albert Champion). On October 27, 1927 Albert Champion died, and General Motors acquired 100% interest in the AC Spark Plug Company through the purchase of the remaining stock held by his estate.
SAGINAW STEERING GEAR
The first exclusive parts manufacturing organization to become affiliated with General Motors was the Jackson-Church-Wilcox Company, originally organized in April, 1908.The company manufactured automobile parts for Buick, and was purchased by Buick in 1910. Now operating as the Saginaw Steering Gear Division, it's principal product line became steering gear assemblies, universal joints, drive shafts, and transmission control shafts.
Established in 1910, the Harrison radiator Company in Lockport, New York later became a part of General Motors as one of the units of United Motors in 1918.
In 1916 Alfred P. Sloan formed United Motors Corp.(Sloan would eventually go on to lead General Motors as president and chairman) UMC eventually acquired Buick and AC Spark Plug, and later merged with Chevrolet to become General Motors. In that same year, UMC formed United Motors Service Inc.(UMS), to sell service parts made by the company.
BODY by FISHER
On July 22, 1908, Fred J. and Charles T. Fisher, the eldest of six brothers started their own factory in Detroit manufacturing closed automobile bodies. In 1910 they obtained from Cadillac the first volume order ever placed for closed bodies. Over the next few years, Fisher Body supplied an increasingly large number of bodies for General Motors, and by 1919 GM acquired a majority interest in the Fisher Body Corporation. Seven years later, in 1926, Fisher Body became a division of General Motors.
Two brothers named Frank and Perry Remy formed a company in 1896, and in 1901 incorporated the" Remy Electric Co." The two brothers built dynamos and magnetos which were used instead of batteries in early automobiles. Their largest customer was the Buick Motor Car Co. Their "plant" as it were, was nothing more than a 14' X 20' shack located at 12th. and Meridian St. in Anderson , Indiana. In 1908, Henry Leland, who was the General Manager of the Cadillac Motor Car Co., was introduced to Charles F. Kettering, the inventor of the first electric cash register. Wanting to improve the automobile magneto, Leland asked Kettering if he would consider submitting some ideas for a new ignition system. Kettering accepted, and along with Edward A. Deeds, formed the "Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company" (DELCO), in the hayloft of a barn in Dayton, Ohio. The company was later sold to General Motors in 1916. In 1926, Remy Electric, which in 1911 had been purchased by Fletcher Savings and Trust of Indiana, was bought out by General Motors, and was merged with Dayton Engineering Labs Co. (Delco) to form the Delco-Remy Corporation. Two mergers remained for the company. The first one took place in 1971 when United Motors Service was renamed "United Delco Division". The second took place when United Delco and the AC Spark Plug Division combined to form the company we know today, as AC-Delco.
In April, 1917, Alva K. Ternstedt organized the Ternstedt Manufacturing Company in Detroit. It produced a newly patented closed car window regulator which was the first completely dependable device of it's kind. On May, 1, 1920, Ternstedt became a subsidiary of the Fisher Body Company.
DELCO PRODUCTS & GUIDE LAMP
In 1928, Guide Motor Lamp was purchased from it's original founders Hugh Monson, William F. Persons and William Bruce, and merged with Delco-Remy. In January of 1929, GM split the headlamp operations into what was to be known as the Guide Lamp Division. Guide Lamp was instrumental in developing the modern day sealed beam headlamp.
The Dayton plant of the original Delco-Remy Corporation then became known as the Delco Products Division which manufactured coil springs, shock absorbers, and electric motors among other things.
DELCO APPLIANCE DIVISION
The North East Electric Company which was formed in Rochester, New York in 1908, became a part of General Motors in the latter part of 1929. Within a few months it was consolidated with the Delco Light Company and it's name changed first to Delco Appliance Corporation then later to Delco Appliance Division. Delco Appliance was the main supplier for items such as heater motors and windshield washer motors and pumps.
Founded in 1890, the Packard Electric Company of Warren, Ohio produced lamps and transformers in it's early days. Eight years later they developed the Packard automobile but they sold that part of their business to Detroit Capital in 1903. In March, 1932, GM purchased the Packard Electric Company and it devoted most of it's efforts to producing ignition wiring cable products as well as spark plug wires.
With the increasing demand by the motoring public for automobile radios, GM decided to supply a portion of it's radio requirements through the purchase of plant facilities in Kokomo, Indiana, in 1936.
ROCHESTER PRODUCTS DIVISION
In 1937 it was decided to build a second plant for the Delco Appliance Division in Rochester, New York, and the new factory was opened in 1938. A few years later, shortly before World War II, the plant was 100 per cent converted to the manufacture of war products. At the conclusion of the war, the plant did not reconvert back to it's original peacetime activities. Instead, it was called upon to begin the development of fuel devices such as carburetors, and steel tubing for fuel, oil, and brake lines.
Here are a few interesting facts I've found,
as well as a short General Motors timeline.
1867-Carriage manufacture begun by the McLaughlin Carriage Company in Canada. This company later became General Motors of Canada, Ltd.
1890-Olds Gasoline Engine Works organized in Lansing, Michigan.
1892-Hyatt Roller Bearing Company formed at Harrison, New Jersey.
1893-Pontiac Buggy Company incorporated at Pontiac, Michigan.
1894-R.E. Olds starts to build his first gasoline car.
1895-Henry M. Leland forms the Leland & Faulconer Manufacturing Company, predecessor of Cadillac, in Detroit.
1897-The first Oldsmobile produced and the Olds Motor Vehicle Company organized.
1902-Organization of the Cadillac Automobile Company.
1906-Buick made it's first 4 cylinder engine.
1907-Oakland Motor car Company organized at Pontiac, Michigan.
1908-Fisher Body organized.
1908-September 16, General Motors Company organized. Buick & Oldsmobile join general Motors.
1908- The Rapid Motor Vehicle Company and the Reliance Motor Company joins GM.
1909-Oakland, Cadillac, and AC Spark Plug
join General Motors.
1910-Buick makes it's first 4 cylinder car. Harrison Radiator Co. organized at Lockport, New York.
1910- The Brown-Lipe-Chapin Division becomes a part of General Motors making spur and bevel gears, and later made hub caps, bumper guards, and ornamental die castings such as name plates and radio grilles.
1911-Chevrolet Motor Company of Michigan and
General Motors Export Company organized.
1911- The Rapid Motor Vehicle Company and the Reliance Motor Company are consolidated to form the General Motors Truck Company (GMC).
1914- The first high speed V-eight automobile engine is introduced by Cadillac.
1916-United Motors Corporation organized.
1918-Chevrolet Motor Company joins general Motors. United Motors Corporation joins General Motors; bringing with it several organizations, including Hyatt Roller Bearing, Dayton Engineering Laboratories, Remy Electric, New Departure, and Harrison Radiator.
1919- The Saginaw Malleable Iron Division becomes part of General Motors producing iron castings, and develops the tough "ArmaSteel"
1923- The General Motors Research Laboratories develops the first 90 degree V-8 crankshaft, giving an inherently balanced engine.
1923- The Moraine products division is established.
1923- The Inland Manufacturing Division is formed to produce a steering wheel with wood veneer trim, and later produced rubber parts, floor mats, brake linings, and various rubber and plastic products.
1925-Yellow Truck & Coach organized with
General Motors Truck as a subsidiary.
1926-Pontiac Motor Car introduced by Oakland
1927- AC spark plugs were used in the plane Charles Lindbergh used in his trans-Atlantic flight.
1928- Cadillac introduces the synchro mesh transmission.
1932- Amelia Earhart's
plane was equipped with AC spark plugs when she made her trans-Atlantic solo
1967- AC electronics division supplied complex guidance systems for the Apollo spacecraft, the Titan II intercontinental ballistic missile and the Titan III standard space launch vehicle. They also produced an advanced inertial navigation system for the Boeing 747 jet liner.
1969- AC igniter spark plugs were used to fire the second and third stage rocket engines that took Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins to the moon.
While working for general Motors, Charles F. Kettering, (co-founder of DELCO) invented the first electric automobile starter, leaded "ETHYL" gasoline, perfected "Duco" color lacquer for automobile finishes, was co-inventor of Freon 12, and made many refinements to the Diesel engine.