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Fired! Buick, Ford, Toyoda All Booted From Their Companies

Here are some famous automotive pioneers who lost control of their own companies. Some bounced, back others didn’t. Learn the backstory to these major brands.

Regardless of the outcome the companies that these men built have continued to grow and meet the needs of consumers around the globe.

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Henry Ford

If you added 100 years to the dates, changed the location from Detroit, MI to Silicon Valley, CA, and the product from automobile to tech, Henry Ford’s story would be just as relevant. He left his position with Edison’s electric company to start his first car company, which quickly failed. His second company, the Henry Ford Motor Company was formed from the ashes of the Detroit Automobile Company with the intent to build a $1,000 car. Ford was distracted by race cars, having one a major contest (with a co-driver perched on the fender to balance the car in turns) and now wanting to construct a larger car. Losing faith in Ford, the investors brought in noted automotive engineer Henry Leland, who pushed Ford out and renamed the company Cadillac.

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David Buick

Much like Ford, David Buick started and folded several companies. At his final car company, the Buick Motor Company, he developed the overhead valve cylinder head configuration, in use today in almost every internal combustion engine, made the company very valuable. Heavily in debt, his creditors forced the company’s sale to William Durant and Buick was pushed out of his own company. GM did pay him about $2.6 million in today’s money, but he made terrible investments and lost it all. He taught at a technical school to pay the bills until his death in 1929.

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Kiichiro Toyoda

First let’s get the whole Toyota – Toyoda thing out of the way. the family name is Toyoda and the car company they started is called Toyota. There are about eight different explanations floating around as to why, so if you’re interested you can look it up on your own time. What we want to talk about here is Kiichiro Toyoda, who started Toyota out of his father’s loom manufacturing business. He got the coming off to a firm footing as well as developed several important product processes. Unfortunately he “resigned” from the company with a gentle push from the board in 1950 due to flagging sales and profitability, passing away two years later.

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Louis Renault

The company we know today as Renault was founded by three brothers in 1899: Louis Renault, Marcel Renault, Fernand Renault. Two of the brother died shortly thereafter, leaving Louis to run the company alone. During WWI, Louis was an enormous supporter of the French government against the Germans, creating the Renault FT tank, that was among the most revolutionary and influential tank designs in history, for which he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Légion d’honneur. Later during WWII after Germany invaded France he was left with the choice of resisting and having the German army dismantle the factory and move it to Stuttgart as part of Daimler-Benz, or leave it as -is a cooperate with the French puppet government (who had rescinded his Grand Cross of the Légion d’honneur) that served the Nazis. To keep the factory and jobs in France he agreed to cooperate. However, in the hysteria after the war, we was labeled a traitor, jailed, and his company taken over by the French government. He died in jail and was never brought to trail. Most historians view his decision as the correct one and don’t believe he was a traitor to the French people.

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Chris Riley
About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. GearHeads.org gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community.

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