What Does the BLC Stand for on Those Old GM Parts?

You have probably heard some incorrect theories ventured regarding the meaning of the “BLC” logo on old car parts. For instance, here are some things it does NOT stand for:

Buick LaSalle Cadillac

Bright Light Company

Best Light Company

British Light Company

The BLC on those old parts actually stands for “Brown-Lipe-Chapin,” named for Alexander T. Brown, W. C. Lipe, and H. Winfield Chapin. Although Brown and Lipe’s brother, Charles, had gone into business in the 1890s, BLC was not incorporated until 1910. Located in Syracuse, New York, the business specialized in the manufacturing of automobile differentials, transmission gears, and clutches.

In 1917, it was announced that General Motors was in the mood to buy and would be acquiring BLC:

The purchase of BLC fell through due to “legal difficulties,” but some of the other “automobile accessories concerns” referenced in the above article and acquired by Durant and GM included familiar names like Klaxon, Delco, and Remy. BLC continued to prosper and was frequently mentioned in automobile advertisements like these:

Chevrolet used BLC gears, too. This 1918 advertisement makes the point that Chevrolet utilizes the same parts used by America’s finest cars, and it states that BLC gears were adopted as standard equipment by 80% of automobile and truck manufacturers:

By the early twenties more than 50% of BLC’s output was going to GM, and GM announced that it was purchasing BLC in December of 1922:

The BLC factory closed during the Depression and then reopened in 1936 as part of GM’s $50 million expansion project. BLC became a division of GM’s Guide Lamp and, instead of gears, began making chrome parts like bumper guards, lights, and hood ornaments.

This is an interesting snapshot of the GM empire in 1937:

Like the rest of the automobile industry, BLC soon retooled to join the war effort. By December of 1940, it was reported that the company was equipped to turn out machine guns en masse. BLC manufactured Brownings including the .50 caliber “stinger.”

BLC became its own division again in 1942:

After the war, BLC returned to making automobile parts, although it was also awarded the defense contract for the making of the Curtis-Wright J-65 Sapphire jet engine in the 1950s.

The last chapter of BLC’s history was written in December of 1961 when it was consolidated into the Ternstedt Division, making Ternstedt GM’s third largest division. The BLC logo lives on, however, on so many old lights, bumper guards, and emblems.


Advertisement. Chevrolet. The Pomona Progress, 5 Feb. 1918, p. 3.

Advertisement. Davis. Houston Daily Post, 19 Nov. 1916, p. 25.

Advertisement. Daniels. The Allentown Morning Call, 27 Oct. 1915, p. 8.

Advertisement. General Motors. Detroit Free Press, 6 Jul 1943, p. 14.

“Auto Men Put 100 Millions into Expansion.” The Herald Press [ Detroit], 6 Feb. 1936, p. 3.

“Auto Plants Are Geared for War Production.” Morgan County News, 30 Jan 1942, p. 3.

“Company Incorporated.” The Buffalo Enquirer, 3 Feb. 1910, p. 2.

“General Motors Acquires Brown-Lipe-Chapin Co.” The Buffalo Enquirer, 29 Dec. 1922, p. 5.

“General Motors Buys Brown-Lipe-Chapin Co,” The Muncie Morning Star, 29 Dec. 1922, p. 17.

“General Motors Empire Harried by Strikes.” Chicago Sunday Tribune, 10 Jan 1937, p. 2-8.

“General Motors Factories Start $61,000,000 Machine Gun Order.” The Boston Globe, 18 Apr. 1941, p. 34.

“General Motors to Have New Division.” The Minneapolis Star, 25 Jun. 1942, p. 28.

Greenburg, Abe. “’42 Auto Models Seen Certain, Despite War.” Daily News [New York], 29 Dec 1940, p. 217.

“More for Motors Co.” Muncie Evening Press, 11 Oct 1916, p. 6.

“United Motors is Earning $9 a Share.” The Wall Street Journal, 30 Apr. 1917, p. 6.

“United Motors is Parent Now for Big Added Firm.” Detroit Free Press, 5 Nov 1916, p. 2.