Central Oklahoma Classic Chevy Club

General Motor's Curtice, Page 2 of 4.
What they will see is an auto that is new from rubber to roof, with the large-car look of an Oldsmobile. Long before his predecessor at G.M., Defense Secretary Charlie Wilson, made his crack about bird dogs and kennel dogs (Time, Oct. 25), Curtice described the new Chevrolet as having "a hound-dog look" - long, low and forward-plunging. The same overall length (196 in.) as last year, the new Chevies are lower by 2.6 in. to 6.3 in. (for the station wagon), have two inches more hip and shoulder room inside. With wrap-around windshields, they have 18% more glass area and visibility; the station wagon even has wrap-around rear windows. Tubeless tires are standard equipment. Optional: power brakes that keep their power even when the engine is stalled, power steering, pushbutton windows, a two-way power seat, and an air-conditioning unit (about $150 extra) that fits under the hood, thus takes up no baggage space.

For the first time Chevy has a V-8 engine of 162 h.p. With special carburetor and exhaust (available as optional equipment), it can be stepped up to 180 h.p. Chevy's six-cylinder engine has been boosted from 115 to 136 h.p. Prices will be about the same as this year.

Variable Pitch.
While Chevrolet is G.M.'s biggest news for 1955, its four other auto divisions have spent another $300 million to retool, by far the biggest new model outlay in G.M.'s history. This week Pontiac's 4,047 dealers are also showing off their 1955 entries. The new Pontiac is 2 1/2 in. lower and as much as 3.5 in. longer than this year's. The new V-8 engine has stepped horsepower up from 127 to 180, and an optional carburetor will boost it to 200 h.p. Buick, Olds and Cadillac, which made complete model changes last year, have only face-lifted the models to be shown in the next few weeks. But there are dozens of engineering changes. Cadillac has a 260-h.p. engine, up from 230. In its new Dynaflow transmission, Buick has new, variable-pitch blades that change their angle as the accelerator is pressed to the floor, adding a big extra kick for passing. And the Century and Roadmaster have boosted horsepower from 195 and 200 respectively to 236 h.p. In a few months Buick and Olds will both have a brand-new model: a four-door hardtop that has the sporty look of the two-door models, plus the roominess of a sedan.

Red Curtice's new models will meet some fender-crunching competition from every other automaker. Ford has spent $185 million for the first all-new Ford body since 1949. The new car is 1 in. lower than this year's, and will have wrap-around windshields. V-8 horsepower will be stepped up from 130 to around 160. Ford has also spent millions on its powerful (up to 200 h.p.) new Mercury. Fanciest eye catcher: the Montclair, a new road-hugging car that will be close to the lowest in the industry. Last week brothers Henry, Ben and Billy Ford gave everyone a taste of the rugged kind of competition that they intend to serve up. They showed off their Thunderbird sports car and put a price on it of $2,695. f.o.b. Detroit, a full $500 below Chevrolet's Corvette.

To battle G.M. and Ford, Chrysler Corp. has spent $250 million (Time, Oct. 25). Studebaker-Packard has spent $120 million for new bodies and a new V-8 engine for Packard. Nash and Hudson (now American Motors) have redesigned, installed V-8s in their larger models to get a bigger share of the market than this year's 100,000 or so cars.

How many cars do the automakers hope to sell in 19557 For the last two years, the predictions of Red Curtice have been right on the button. Says he of 1955: "Sales will be somewhat better than this year's estimated 5,300,000 cars." As for G.M., it should keep its 49.9% of the market, biggest it has ever had.

Early this year, while fears of recession swept the U.S., Optimist Curtice boldly announced a $1 billion expansion program for G.M. This week, in his third-quarter report, Red Curtice showed that his optimism was warranted. Largely because of a 30% drop in defense business, G.M.'s sales were down from $2 billion in 1953 to $1.8 billion. But profits helped by lower taxes, were up 14%, to $160 million. Earnings a share were $1.79 v. $1.57 in the third quarter of 1953, or a nine-month total of $6.58 a share v. $5.08 in 1953.

Out of an Ad.
The man who has given General Motors its record share of the auto business* looks as if he just stepped out of a Cadillac ad. His 5 ft. 9 in., 155-lb. frame is usually clad in flawless blues and greys; at 61, his once brick-red hair and pencil-line mustache are grey, but his bright blue eyes sparkle like a newly polished car, his smile is as broad as a Cadillac grille. His voice is quiet, his manner calm. But under the Curtice hood there throbs a machine with the tireless power of one of his own 260-h.p. engines.

* - While most of his time is spent with the auto divisions, Curtice also runs Frigidaire, the diesel divisions (G.M. is the biggest U.S. maker of diesel locomotives) and the rest of G.M.'s 40-odd divisions. Among them: Delco radios, motors, etc.; Allion engines; AC Spark Plug.


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