Nothing screams Detroit like Chevy trucks and rock ‘n’ roll. For a local boutique guitar maker, the connection couldn’t be clearer.
In 1911, Swiss race car driver and engineer, Louis Chevrolet, founded the Chevrolet Motor Car Company of Michigan. He could never have imagined that within decades his automobiles would become synonymous with the city of Detroit and the nation at large. Following the Second World War, Chevy released iconic new models, including the Bel Air (1950), and Corvette (1953). In 1954, Chevrolet celebrated the production of its 50 millionth vehicle.
All the while, a new sound was taking hold of the nation. In 1955, Detroit native, Bill Hailey released “Rock Around The Clock,” rock n roll’s first true hit. Several years later, auto worker Berry Gordy founded Motown Records, providing a name and sound suited to the identity of his city.
From the sixties to the present, Detroit has shaped America’s tastes. Artists ranging from Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder to Jack White and Iggy Pop have created a soundtrack for American life; one best enjoyed blasted through the radios of Detroit-made automobiles. To this day, music and cars remain at the core of what defines us as a city.
Few know this as well as Mark Wallace, who owns and operates Wallace Detroit Guitars in the heart of the Motor City. Boasting one-of-a-kind designs and hand-built electronic elements, the guitars look as good as they sound. But these axes aren’t just made in Detroit, they’re made of Detroit.
Each and every Wallace Detroit Guitar is built from reclaimed wood harvested from abandoned Detroit buildings. Various models trace their origins to the Detroit Fire Department Headquarters, David Whitney Building and other Detroit landmarks. But perhaps their most unique model originates in the furnace of the city’s industrial glory.
In collaboration with Chevy Trucks, Wallace Detroit Guitars created an instrument to honor 100 years of innovation and achievement. Built with wood sourced from General Motors’ Fort Wayne factory, the guitar features two single-coil pickups and a polished rosewood fingerboard. You may associate the classic maple, tele-style body with artists such as Bruce Springsteen and Prince, but make no mistake, this guitar is as unique as the materials that went into it. The classic bowtie Chevy logo (est. 1914) shines front and center, surrounding the neck pickup (see image), visually reaffirming what we already know to be true: that Chevy lives at the heart of rock ‘n’ roll history.
The guitar made its debut at the 2017 Country Music Awards, and since then, has garnered acclaim for its Detroit-centric craftsmanship. According to Wallace, the guitar embodies the spirit of Detroit and its rightful place as the epicenter of the automotive world.
“I think Detroit is the perfect intersection of creativity, innovation and music,” Wallace explained. “People take whatever resources they have at hand and produce this incredible creative output. It’s always been a city where people are making things, and fiddling with things and trying to find a new way to do things.”
It is this combination of grit and ingenuity that keeps Chevy rocking over a hundred years after their first truck rolled off the assembly line.