In 1919, General Motors created a financing plan for consumers to easily purchase GM vehicles. The General Motors Acceptance Corporation and its GMAC Plan allowed consumers to purchase vehicles on credit by making monthly installment payments to their dealership. The use of credit made owning a car a realistic possibility for many people.
General Motors Corporation prided itself on producing a wide range of vehicles for every class of consumer with Chevrolet being the most affordable make in the General Motors line. Future owners of Chevrolets had not only the GMAC Plan available to them to purchase vehicles, but also had the GMAC 6% Purchase Certificate plan. When used together, they were advertised as the easiest way to pay for a Chevrolet out of income.
With the GMAC Plan, the purchaser could pay a down payment of 30% of the purchase price, drive home the car, and make monthly payments until the car was paid in full. However, not everyone could afford the initial 30% down payment. So General Motors Acceptance Corporation went one step further, and created the 6% Purchase Certificate. A purchaser that was not able to afford the initial down payment could make small payments towards the 30% down payment. They would purchase this certificate for a few dollars and every week would make a small payment toward the down payment. Once the full down payment was collected, then the purchaser could turn in their certificate, drive away in their new Chevrolet, and continue to make the rest of the payments on the car under the GMAC Plan.
This new idea of buying on credit, made it easier for consumers to purchase big-ticket items such as Chevrolet vehicles. By advertising the GMAC Plan as the easiest method to purchasing a car, more cars could be sold to consumers who would have otherwise not been able to own one. The pamphlets advertising the plan also suggest that not only is it an easy way to purchase a first car, but that the payment plan could also be utilized to start making payments on their next vehicle. Their theory was that as new models came out each year, consumers would want to upgrade or trade in their current model for the latest in automotive design and technology.
By being flexible, the GMAC Plan was designed for purchasers to not only purchase their first vehicle, but also encourage consumers to trade in for the newest car models. These pamphlets also show that by being able to purchase a car on credit allowed a greater percentage of the American public to own a car, and aided in the process of the passenger vehicle becoming the primary method of personal transportation. Click on the images to view the pamphlets in the Hagley Digital Archives.
- A New Way to Buy a Chevrolet, (1924).
- Buying a Chevrolet Out of Income, (ca. 1925).
- This Makes it Easy to Pay for a Chevrolet, (1926).
Robin Valencia is the Graduate Assistant on the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection at Hagley Museum and Library.