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