Detroit Dreamer

DURANT

He made Buick a success, created General Motors, and started Chevrolet from scratch, but then Billy Durant lost it all.

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Durant had a talent for selling: cigars, patent medicines, real estate and insurance, horse-drawn buggies, and finally the automobile. He was as important as Henry Ford in launching the American auto industry.

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The huge General Motors complex north of downtown Detroit had offices for six thousand white collar workers, plus auto showrooms, a 1,500-seat auditorium, residential suites for visiting executives, and two swimming pools.

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Now a state office complex called Cadillac Place, the building has marble corridors and barrel-vaulted ceilings more suited to a royal palace or opera hall than a former corporate headquarters.