|Headquarters||Grand Blanc, Michigan, USA|
ACDelco is an American automotive parts brand owned by General Motors (GM). Factory parts for vehicles manufactured by GM are consolidated under the ACDelco brand which also offers aftermarket parts for non-GM vehicles. Over its long history it has been known by various names such as United Motors Corporation, United Motors Service, and United Delco. It merged with AC Spark Plug in 1974 and became known as AC-Delco.
United Motors Corporation was formed by William C. Durant in 1916 as an automotive component and accessory holding company. Durant was the owner of Buick and founder of General Motors in 1908. After he lost control of General Motors in 1910, he subsequently founded Chevrolet in 1911 with Louis Chevrolet and the profits from this permitted him to regain control of GM in 1916. At approximately the same time, he assembled United Motors.
Durant's founding of United Motors has parallels in his earlier experience in the horse-drawn carriage industry in Michigan. In the late 19th century he was co-owner of the Durant-Dort Carriage Company, one of the nation's leading carriage manufacturers. Concerned that they could not source components and raw materials at affordable prices or in sufficient quantities, Durant-Dort created a vertically-integrated operation owning hardwood forests and manufacturing its own bodies, wheels, axles, upholstery, springs, varnish and whips.
United Motors initially included Alfred P. Sloan's Hyatt Roller Bearing Company (antifriction roller bearings), New Departure Manufacturing Company (ball bearings), Remy Electric Company (electrical starting, lighting, and ignition equipment), Charles Kettering and Edward A. Deeds' Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (DELCO automotive ignition, starters and generators), and the Perlman Rim Corporation.
Durant appointed Alfred P. Sloan, who had been president of Hyatt, as president of United Motors. In the next two years, Sloan bought the Harrison Radiator Corporation, Lovell-McConnell Manufacturing Company (renamed Klaxon company to make Klaxon horns) in September 1916, and organized United Motors Service to sell and service the entire line of products nationwide.
General Motors - United Motors Service
United Motors was originally independent of General Motors, selling to all manufacturers until 1918, when the company was acquired by General Motors for $45 million (three quarters debentures and one quarter common shares) and integrated into GM on December 31, 1918.
United Motors became United Motors Service and continued to operate essentially as it had before. However, all of its production was now devoted to GM's brands. Alfred P. Sloan continued as the division manager, which carried with it a GM vice-president title and a position on the GM board. In 1923 he became President of General Motors and was Chairman when he retired in 1956. Charles Kettering, co-founder of Delco, was head of research at General Motors for 27 years. Herbert C. Harrison was President of Harrison Radiator until his death in 1927. William C. Durant lost control of GM for the final time in 1920.
United Motors Service would become a fully integrated division of General Motors in 1944.
Around 1960, the division’s name was changed to United Delco. With the Delco name becoming more well-known with consumers, the “Delco” name was incorporated into all of the divisions branches (Delco Remy, Delco Harrison, Delco Packard (Packard Electric), Delco Moraine).
AC Spark Plug Division
In 1899, Albert Champion came to the U.S. as a champion bicycle racer. Albert found a job with the Stranhan brothers who had started Champion Spark plug Co in 1905 or 06 and began production in 1907. Albert was not happy in his job because he had no control over his work. He already had at least one spark plug patent from(1898) before leaving Europe. In 1908 he went to see Billy Durant. William C. Durant of the Buick Motor Co. Durant ask to see some of this proto types. Buick at that time was using Rajah spark plugs. Albert told Durant he would return with some the following day which he did. Durant thought they could mfg Albert's designs cheaper than buying the Rajah. He set Albert up in a workshop in Flint,MI. Albert went to work right away producing spark plugs to be used in the Buicks. Albert & Billy formed "Champion Ignition Co. Very shortly later the Stranahan Brothers ("Champion Spark Plug Co") Informed them they could not use the name "Champion" as they had it copyrighted. At that time the name was changed to AC (A)lbert (C)hampion. The company then became "AC Flint" This name was copyrighted in the later part of 1908. In 1927 AC Flint became a division or General Motors. (Found in William Durants papers after his death)
In 1974, in an effort to streamline its operations and marketing, General Motors merged the AC Spark Plug with United Delco, which for years had been selling to the same customers, to create the new AC-Delco. In 1982 military garment manufacturer Cockpit USA (then known as Avirex LTD.) produced for AC-Delco a limited edition "The Right Stuff" A-2 flight jacket dedicated to Chuck Yeager and his Bell X-1 aircraft which broke the sound barrier on October 14, 1947.
By the mid-1990s there were further changes to the division. In 1994, Delco-Remy, part of the division since 1916, was spun off to private investors and is now known as Remy International, Inc. Also in 1994, GM created Automotive Components Group to run Delco Electronics. ACG was later renamed Delphi and spun off from GM in 1999. GM retained the AC Delco name. 1995 saw a re-branding of AC-Delco. The hyphen was dropped and ACDelco received a new logo and marketing initiative.
- "United Motors Buys Horn Factory" (PDF). New York Times. September 10, 1916. Retrieved January 17, 2011.
- Arthur Pound (1934). The Turning Wheel: The Story of General Motors Through Twenty-five years 1908–1933. Doubleday, Doran & Company.
- NY Times Obituary March 7, 1927
- "Who and what is ACDelco". General Motors National Retiree Association. May 1, 2007. Retrieved February 25, 2011.
- "About us:History". ACDelco India. Retrieved February 25, 2011.