The history of Frontenac Motor Company began in December 1915. Louis Chevrolet, Joseph Boyer Jr., William Small, and Victor Heftler joined forces to found the business. The company was based in Indianapolis. Its primary focus was building high-performance automobile engines.
The name “Frontenac” came from the name of a French colonial governor of New France. Chevrolet was a proud French-Canadian, and he wanted to name his company after a famous French figure. (Louis had immigrated to North America from France to French Canada before moving to the United States.)
Frontenac had been an influential governor who ruled New France from 1672 to 1682 and again from 1689 to 1698. He was a military leader. Frontenac also built a number of fortifications and forts, including Fort Frontenac.
Chevrolet believed that the name “Frontenac” would evoke the same sense of power and prestige as the French colonial governor.
Racing Engines over Passenger Cars
Frontenac engines dominated many of the top racing teams in the United States. They helped several drivers win major races, including the Indianapolis 500. In 1919, Frontenac engines powered four of the top five finishers in the Indy 500.
In addition to its racing engines, Frontenac briefly produced a line of high-performance passenger cars. These cars had powerful engines and sleek, stylish design. However, Louis primarily built racecars – not production-line models. Frontenac’s passenger car business was never as successful as its racing engine business. The company eventually ceased production of passenger cars in 1921.
Despite the end of its passenger car business, Frontenac continued to produce racing engines for several more years. The company’s engines still sold well, and they continued to succeed with many of the top racing teams in the United States. The 1922 death of his younger brother, Gaston, in a racing event, had a lasting effect on Louis. In addition, a Wall Street scandal surrounding Frontenac’s stock offering added to the company woes. Frontenac eventually went out of business in 1926.
Here are some of the notable achievements of the Frontenac Motor Company:
Frontenac engines helped win the Indianapolis 500 four times in a row, from 1919 to 1922. Their engines also won the Vanderbilt Cup, the most prestigious automobile race in the world at the time, in 1919 and 1920. Frontenac engines powered many of the top racing teams in the United States, including the Duesenbergs, the Millers, and the Stutzes.
Frontenac’s passenger cars had powerful engines and their sleek, stylish design. Their engines were still in high demand in the early 1920s and were used by many of the top racing teams in the United States.
Despite its relatively short lifespan, Frontenac Motor Company made a significant impact on the American automotive industry. The company’s high-performance engines helped to revolutionize racing.
- Year Started: 1915
- Year Ended: 1926
- Origin Of Name: French Canadian Hero
- Location Sales: Worldwide
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: Louis Chevrolet, Joseph Boyer Jr., William Small, and Victor Heftler
- Owner While In Use: Louis Chevrolet, Joseph Boyer Jr., William Small, and Victor Heftler
- Owner Successor: N/A
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: Audi Turbocharged 2.5-Liter Inline-Five
- Naics Code: 336310
- Location Headquarters: Indianapolis, Indiana USA