AUTOS: Nothing to Nothing

"Money is only loaned to a man," William Crapo Durant once said. "He comes into the world with nothing and he leaves with nothing."

"Billy" Durant came into the world in Boston with not even a loan. Raised in Flint, Mich., he quit school at 17. By selling patent medicine, cigars, insurance and borrowing from friends, he scraped up enough to join a fellow clerk in buying out a carriage factory for $2,000. Through his prodigious energy and salesmanship ("he could coax a bird out of a tree") the company acquired 14 plants...

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