Pete Estes, who would become president of GM, joined Pontiac in 1957 after Bunkie Knudsen lured him from Oldsmobile to replace chief engineer George Delaney. Knudsen, Estes and John DeLorean were widely regarded as a great team.
Born Elliot Estes in Mendon, Michigan in 1916, he built his first car at age 12, a one-cylinder engine on a coaster wagon. He joined the GM Institute in 1934 at age 18.
He earned his nickname during his early years at GM, where a tool crib supervisor began calling him Pete. Later, he went to University of Cincinnati, and graduated in 1940 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He returned to GM and began working for Charles Kettering in the Research Labs. He moved to Oldsmobile and worked his way up to assistant chief engineer.
Estes was well-known as a great motivator, a man who set a good example. He loved and appreciated cars, and had incredible instincts about the internal workings of automobiles. Yet in the end, he was considered a better manager than engineer. He was charismatic and friendly, but demanding of his staff.
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