DETROIT -- We saw the USA in them. We drove them to the levee. We even worked on our night moves in their back seats.
For a century, Chevrolets won America's love with their safety, convenience, style and speed -- even if sometimes they were clunky or had problems with their rear suspensions.
Chevy, which lays claim to being the top-selling auto brand of all time, celebrates its 100th birthday today.
For most of its life, Chevy stayed a fender ahead of the competition by bringing innovations like all-steel bodies, automatic shifting, electric headlamps and power steering to regular folks at a low cost.
Chevy also embedded itself in American culture, sometimes changing it by knowing what people wanted to drive before they did. Snappy jingles and slogans dominated radio and television, and bands mentioned Chevys in more than 700 songs.
No other automotive brand has come close to the adoration that Chevy won from customers, especially in the 1950s and '60s.
"The American car from the mid-1930s to the end of the '60s was a Chevrolet," said John Heitmann, an automotive history professor at the University of Dayton. "It was the car of the aspiring American lower and middle classes for a long period."
Chevrolet was launched on Nov. 3, 1911, in Detroit when Louis Chevrolet joined ousted General Motors founder Billy Durant to start a new brand. But the two clashed, and in 1915 Durant bought out Chevrolet.
The next year the company sold about 70,000 cars, giving Durant enough cash to take control of GM. He later made Chevy a separate division, and the rest is history.