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The Chevrolet-Related Brand You’ve Never Heard Of

Chevrolet is an American automotive manufacturer that is recognized across the world. From trucks to high-powered muscle cars, the Chevy brand has a lot of history and heritage. The simple bowtie badge is easy to recognize, but there is a car company related to Chevy that you’ve probably never heard of. It’s called the Frontenac Motor Corporation, and it was started as a racing endeavor by three of the Chevrolet brothers. Before it was a company all to itself, Chevy was making parts for Ford, and in 1914 the family decided to make a name for themselves, and Frontenac was born. 

Racing history

The Chevrolet brothers, Louis, Gaston, and Arthur, didn’t originally start the Frontenac Motor Corporation with the intent of selling mass-produced automobiles. Instead, the three brothers had more interest in racing than auto manufacturing, focusing on developing performance vehicles for the Indianapolis circuit. Things would not go well for the brothers over the very few years in operation, causing them to lost investors and even lives along the way before stopping production in 1921. 

Ford ‘Fronty-Ford’, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, 1922. Fronty-Fords consisted of a Ford Model T chassis with an engine produced by the Frontenac Motors Corporation of the Chevrolet brothers. The cars raced at Indianapolis in the early 1920s | National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images

Losing an investor

Like most other motorsports, racing can be an expensive endeavor and starting a business like the Frontenac Motor Corporation was going to take more money than the three Chevrolet brothers had to invest. One of the companies first investors was Albert Champion, a world-class cyclist based in Flint, Michigan. Unfortunately for the company, Champion ceased his investments when he was almost beaten to death by Louis Chevrolet during a heated argument. What the argument was about exactly is unclear, but we can’t really blame Champion for his decision regardless. 

1966 Chevrolet Corvair Monza IECO | Pat Brollier/The Enthusiast Network via Getty Images/Getty Images

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More tragedy for the Frontenac Motor Corporation

It was the three brother’s dream to win the Indianapolis 500, and in 1920 Gaston Chevrolet did just that. Unfortunately for the family, Gaston passed away only a few months after accomplishing the goal in a racing accident in Los Angeles in November 1920. Things seemed to go downhill for the company from there, as their plans to enter a deal with Stutz Motor Company slipped through the cracks, leading to the seemingly inevitable end to the Frontenac Motor Corporation in late 1921. 

1956 Chevy Cameo Pickup | Getty
1956 Chevy Cameo Pickup | Getty

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As you could imagine, this wasn’t the end of the line for the Chevrolet family, who, of course, went on to start the auto manufacturing business that we know it as now. Since then, a new Frontenac Motor Corporation has begun, and though it is completely unrelated to the original one started by the three Chevy brothers, it is still operational.