The Sheridan was a brand of American automobile manufactured from 1920 to 1921. Manufacture of the car was based in Muncie, Indiana. The Sheridan nameplate has the distinction of being the first automotive brand started from scratch by General Motors. Prior to the Sheridan, General Motors, under William (Billy) Crapo Durant, grew its automotive marques – Chevrolet, Oakland, Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac – by acquiring independent manufacturers and then folding their operations into the GM structure.
Throughout his years at GM, Billy Durant was interested acquiring outside companies and new products to grow the GM empire, many times without great success. When Buick’s D. A. Burke approached Durant about the idea of designing a car from the ground up, and then marketing the car as a bridge vehicle between GM’s established divisions of Chevrolet and Oakland (a four-cylinder), and between Buick and Cadillac (an eight-cylinder), respectively. Durant approved the project and a facility was secured in Muncie, Indiana.
To market the vehicles, Sheridan hired World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker, himself an accomplished automobile racer in his own right. Through prosaic marketing, and Rickenbacker’s endorsements, Sheridan officials felt the production target of 300 cars a day was not only achievable, but profitable as well.
Just as production began to ramp up, Durant was fired for the second and final time from General Motors. Since the Sheridan was a Durant pet project, GM, now under Alfred Sloan, was left with Sheridan, one of Durant’s more costly but viable caprices. Durant on the other hand knew that the vehicle was soundly engineered and knew what GM paid for the Muncie facility. In May 1921, Durant purchased the rights to the Sheridan and to the Muncie plant, with the intent on using the facility to continue building the Sheridan and Durant’s new project, the Durant and Princeton automobiles, now to be built by Durant Motors.
After the takeover, the enterprise began to degrade for Sheridan, despite a backlog of orders that went unfulfilled. By the summer of 1921, Rickenbacker abandoned his role as the spokesman for the company, and the Sheridan ceased to exist by September, 1921.