Detroit Diesel Division

Written by Bill Bowman


GM Diesel Administration Building

I was there...

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Boss Kettering
The roots of Detroit Diesel can be traced back to 1938 with the formation of the GM Diesel Division by General Motors. With the outbreak of World War II, The relatively compact, lightweight, two-cycle engine became in great demand for powering standby generators, tanks, landing craft and road building equipment. After the war, Detroit Diesel continued developing its heavy duty engine products for various commercial markets, including the growing on-highway market.

Series 4-71 Power Plant
In 1957 GM Diesel introduced the Series 53 and Series 71 engines for both on highway and off road use. The 1950’s and 1960’s saw the development of a worldwide distribution network of independent, authorized distributors and dealers to provide parts and service to the markets it was serving.

In 1965, GM Diesel became Detroit Diesel Engine Division and five years later, General Motors consolidated the company with the closely allied transmission and gas turbine businesses of the Allison Division in Indianapolis to form the Detroit Diesel Allison Division.

On January 1, 1988, Detroit Diesel, a joint venture company between Penske Corporation and General Motors, began operations as the successor to the heavy duty diesel engine business of the Detroit Diesel Allison Division. It was just one year earlier that the company had introduced the Series 60 engine, a new, four cycle, heavy-duty diesel engine and the first production engine with integrated electronic controls as a standard feature. Developed to meet the demand for cleaner and more fuel efficient heavy duty engines, the DDC Series 60 grew in popularity to become the most popular, heavy duty diesel engine in the North American Class 8 Truck market.

By October 1993, the company completed a successful initial public offering of common stock to become a publicly traded company.

In October, 2000, DaimlerChrysler AG completed a "Tender Offer" for all of the outstanding shares, including the 48.6% ownership interest of Penske Corporation.

Power Parade
Like most of GM's divisions and subsidiaries, Detroit Diesel published its own magazine to keep its employees and customers informed about the world of heavy-duty power. This magazine was called Power Parade.

Click here to view the Spring 1956 issue.

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