Chevrolet’s first car pulled onto the auto scene like a decked-out debutante. Race-car driver Louis Chevrolet imagined an upscale dream car based on the racing cars he loved. The first Chevy engine was a large, liquid-cooled, 299-cubic-inch, six-cylinder cast-iron block. In fact, it would remain Chevrolet’s biggest engine until the late ’50s. The Series C Classic Six had a T-head configuration, produced 40 horsepower and could go a whopping 65 miles an hour, competing with the high-performance cars of its time.
The son and daughter-in-law of Billy Durant (Chevrolet’s cofounder) even drove a Classic Six prototype an unheard-of 2,500 miles from Detroit to San Francisco. For the first couple of years, it was simply called “the Chevrolet.” And while Durant would quickly shift the company toward affordability, performance would stay at the heart of Chevrolet for a century to come.