Tuesday 18th March 1947
William C. Durant, the founder of General Motors (GM), died in New York City at the age of 85. Economic historian Dana Thomas described Durant as a man “drunk with the gamble of America. He was obsessed with its highest article of faith–that the man who played for the steepest stakes deserved the biggest winnings.” General Motors reflected Durant’s ambitious attitude toward risk-taking in its breathtaking expansionist policies, becoming in its founder’s words “an empire of cars for every purse and purpose.” But Durant’s gambling attitude had its downside. Over a span of three years, Durant purchased Oldsmobile, Oakland (later Cadillac and Pontiac), and attempted to purchase Ford. By 1910, GM was out of cash, and Durant lost his controlling interest in the company. Durant would get back into the game by starting Chevrolet, and he would eventually regain control of GM–only to lose it a second time. Later in life, Durant attempted to start a bowling center and a supermarket; however, these ventures met with little success.