A NEW Statue is being created
November 19, 1869 – November 22, 1946
Alexander Brownell Cullen Hardy, better known as A.B.C. Hardy, was an important Flint automobile pioneer and close associate of Flint’s major carriage and auto leader, William C. Durant, for a half century. When Durant, co-founder of Flint’s Durant-Dort Carriage Company, started a new low-price firm, Diamond Buggy, in the 1890s, he hired Hardy to run it. Hardy, born in Ypsilanti, had been head of the Wolverine Carriage Company in Davison, Michigan. Later in the decade, when Durant’s business partner, Dallas Dort, stepped aside to care for his ailing wife from 1898 until her death in 1900, Durant named Hardy interim president of the Durant-Dort company.
While at Durant-Dort, Hardy learned of trusts trying to take over carriage suppliers. Rather than accept the resulting higher prices, Hardy negotiated with some suppliers while also implementing a practice whereby Durant-Dort would manufacturer their own wheels, forgings, paint and varnish. Durant recognized that Hardy needed a vacation, so sent him on a trip to Europe. While there, he was astonished by the advanced automobiles seen on European roads. When he returned to Flint, he advised Durant to “get out of the carriage business before the automobile ruins you.” Durant was not ready, and Hardy made a second trip to Europe to study the automobile more closely. Hardy then became Flint’s first auto manufacturer, building 52 cars in 1902-03 (priced from $750 to $850). At the time, holders of the Selden Patent, essentially a blanket patent on the automobile, attempted to control all U.S. automobile production. Although the patent would be overturned in 1911, it was too much of an uphill fight for Hardy, and his company was forced out of production. Durant finally got into autos in late 1904, taking over the fledgling Buick Motor Company in Flint, growing it to be the top selling automobile in the country, and then creating General Motors, also in Flint, in 1908. Hardy was managing a carriage firm in Iowa when Durant called him back to Flint in 1909.
Durant lost control of GM in 1910 and, with Hardy’s help, created the Chevrolet Motor Car Company. After Durant regained control of GM in 1916, Hardy continued to assist him in ventures such as the creation of the Frigidaire Company. Durant was forced to resign as GM president in 1920. Hardy was made general manager of Oldsmobile in 1921 and was added as a GM director in 1922. He retired from Oldsmobile and GM for health reasons in 1925. In later years he was involved in many Flint community events.
Artist Joe Rundell
Materials Joe Uses
In 2012, Back to the Bricks® unveiled the first of several commemorative statues of important automotive pioneers. Life-size bronze replicas of David Buick, William C. (Billy) Durant, Louis Chevrolet, and Albert Champion stand proudly on the GM Automotive Pioneer Plaza in Downtown Flint.
Statues of Walter P. Chrysler and Charles W. Nash welcome visitors in the baggage claim area at Bishop Airport. Otto P. Graff stands at the corner of Court and Saginaw Street near the site of his early dealership. In addition, the newest statue is a bronze replica of Charles Stewart Mott, local philanthropist, outside the library on the campus of the college that bears his name.
Created by local artist Joe Rundell, these statues celebrate key leaders in business, industry, and labor whose vision, ingenuity, and determination became an integral part of the heritage and culture of the “Vehicle City.” In the future, the project will honor other historic figures from the automotive industry.
On January 30th, 2021, a life-size replica of “Rosie the Riveter,” took her place in the baggage claim area at Flint Bishop International Airport. During World War II, thousands of women joined the workforce to replace the men who were deployed overseas. Rosie’s iconic image was inspired by their dedication and sacrifice. Rosie is the 10th statue in the Automobile Heritage Collection, but the first female. The fundraising and education of this statue was placed in the very capable hands of the Flint Women’s Forum. They were excellent partners in making this statue come from a dream to reality.
Chairman of the Automobile Heritage Collection, John Gazall and Executive Director Amber Taylor of Back to the Bricks unveil the 10th statue in the Automobile Heritage Collection, Rosie the Riveter
From left to right, Officer Jen, Real Life Rosie the Riveter, 98 year old Phyllis Jones and on right of Statue Executive Director Amber Taylor, CTA
Placing a COMMEMORATIVE BRICK in the Pioneer Plaza in Downtown Flint is a great way to HONOR an individual, business, or organization that has had a positive impact on our community, REMEMBER a family member/friend, or SAY THANKS to veterans, first responders, and health care providers! Proceeds support the Automotive Pioneers Statue Fund, and are tax deductible.
to be installed in the statue plaza CLICK HERE.