In his final years, during the 1940s, William Crapo "Billy" Durant ran a bowling alley, a grocery store and a small restaurant. Few customers realized that this modest hamburger-flipper had founded the mighty General Motors empire in 1908, was later squeezed out of its control by jealous corporate associates, regained control of GM and lost it a second time, and then quickly proceeded in 1921 to form his own Durant Motors, which he hoped would rival GM.
It never did, but it made a fair showing during the 1920s. In the early years of that decade, Durant managed to create a multi-make empire. First the Durant replaced the Sheridan, a car Durant had developed while at GM, which GM allowed Durant to take with him. Then, Durant introduced the lower-priced Star in 1922.
1922 was also the year that Durant acquired Locomobile from the Hare's Motors holding company. Then came the Flint, a midsize six. Durant's four-cylinder export models bore the Rugby name; Rugby was similar to the Star, but there was already a Star automobile by another manufacturer in England.
The illustrated 1930 model "614" is distinctive in profile, with its five horizontal spearoid hood louvres on each side. You could spot it from a block away.
Billy Durant put millions of his own dollars into his company to keep it afloat after the late 1920s. The final Durant was the early 1932 model. In 1933-34, its successor was the Continental, produced and powered by the Continental engine manufacturers.
But the West Coast Durant factory has survived and is now used as an upscale shopping mall and housing community, with streets nearby named after old brands of automobiles. The factory building still bears the name of Durant, and its heritage is still celebrated.