Chevrolet may have had the honor of building the 50 millionth General Motors vehicle, but all of the company’s divisions celebrated the occasion.
On Nov. 23, 1954, the city of Flint, Mich., froze for a parade that marked the occasion of GM’s 50 millionth car. Flint schools were let out for the day, bands played, red carpet was unrolled, Broadway and Hollywood troupes performed in the Flint Auditorium — all to honor GM building 50 million cars since its founding in 1908.
That 50 millionth car — a special gold-painted 1955 Bel Air Sport Coupe with gold-plated trim — was paraded through Flint. Joining it in the mile-long General Motors Golden CARnival parade were other GM millionth vehicles: its first millionth, a 1919 Oldsmobile; its 5 millionth, a 1926 Pontiac; its 10 millionth, a 1929 Buick; and its 25 millionth, a 1940 Chevrolet sedan. Not wasting a great promotional opportunity, other new 1955 GM models idled through the parade, including a cluster of freshly minted, bright-white GM convertibles from what it called its “famous five:” an Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight; a Buick Super; a Pontiac Star Chief; and a Cadillac Series 62 convertible.
The 50 millionth festivities weren’t limited to the streets of Flint and its auditorium, or even Chevrolet’s Flint assembly plant that built the 50 millionth car. GM divisions hosted open houses at every plant. Also during this time, GM (and its competitors) were keeping presses fully inked by creating a veritable library of promotional materials. Among them were many brochures, at least two of which appeared to be intended for those touring the Buick and Oldsmobile plants during the open houses held in conjunction with the 50 millionth festivities. The brochures “Buick’s On the Move” and “Your Tour of Oldsmobile” both offered insight into the factories where Buicks and Oldsmobiles were built with text and images showing the manufacturing processes. Brochures from GM’s other divisions may have been distributed during the 50 millionth activities, but none could be found that show the vehicles’ build process.
The Buick and Oldsmobile tour brochures appear to be almost as hard to uncover as the fate of the golden 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air, but we’ve landed the ’55 Olds brochure and share its contents here.
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