I used to respect Bob Lutz as a "car guy" that was in a position to make a difference at some of the worlds largest automakers, and I agree with the idea that the company leader needs to come up through the engineering ranks, not accounting. So I was looking forward to a reasoned dissertation on the merits on producing the best product vs. the cheapest one. What I got was "my gut reaction is better that all those educated liberals". Bob should keep his politics out and stop quoting the conservative republican sound bytes about how all of our problems are caused by "liberals who love socialism" and denies the existence of global warming. By his own admission, GM was beset with a crushing bureaucracy that made very bad decisions and even worse cars, yet seems to blame the downfall of the '80s on "the liberal media" and Japan's manipulating the yen. He seems to revere the Harley Earl "excess to the extreme" style of car design and thinks that is the reason why GM was such an industrial giant of the '50s and '60s. He seems to conveniently forget that following WWII the US's automotive industry was at the top of their form, while the rest of the world's industry had just been bombed to rubble. His book is filled with contradictions and half-truths - and he is convinced that the American public is a bunch of stupid children that really want big, heavy, gas-guzzling monsters - they just have to look sexy. He keeps taking cheap shots at "liberals" yet by his own estimation says they make up 70% of the educated public. He claims that the need to supply health care to it's workers puts such a cost burden on GM that they become uncompetitive, yet can't quite bring himself to support "socialized" health care.
I'm not one of the "import loving - American hating liberals" he rants about. I drive a Corvette and own a Sierra Pickup, and my wife drives a PT Cruiser. They are all good vehicles and are excellent values in their class. Like the cars he loves, Bob is a relic of the '50s
If you are looking for a Yugo jokebook, this is not for you. But if you have a passing interest in the behind-the-scenes story of how oddball cars are brought to market, this is well worth the read.
You don't need to be an auto enthusiast to enjoy this book, it is a fascinating mixture of world history, politics, and PT Barnum hucksterism at it's grandest. I've been a car guy since the '60s, so I already knew the basic story of Malcolm Bricklin and the Yugo, but this story went into great detail about Malcolm's many failed attempts at success, the political climate in Yugoslavia that led to them building an aging Fiat, and why the Yugo became first a national celebrity then a national joke in the time time it takes most auto companies to design a single car.
Caution: unless you are a car person who followed the industry in the '70s and '80's, what you think you know about the Yugo is probably wrong - it wasn't the "worst car in history", it was just an outdated design built in a communist bloc country on a shoestring budget.
Well worth the read, and highly recommended!
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