1993: Robert A. Lutz
One of the men behind the Viper, and part of the driving force behind the LH cars, 1993 Automobiles of the Year
In our words: “When threatened with financial ruin, lumbered with an outdated car line, and barely holding on with trucks, minivans, and Jeeps, Chrysler’s management took dramatic steps…An enviable string of interesting cars has followed. Insiders know the company’s principal architect of change has been its president, Bob Lutz.”
In his own words: “Cars like the Viper and LH, and to some extent the Pontiac Grand Prix, prove that when there’s focus and determination, U.S. producers can do it. Of course, you have to get the quality right. But now, with the quality issue 99 percent behind us, the American car companies do seem to have a better feel for the pulse of the U.S. buying public.”
What happened next: Lutz was passed over for the promotion to Chairman and CEO of Chrysler, in favor of Bob Eaton. The move was ultimately ill-fated: Eaton is credited with assisting in the creation of DaimlerChrysler, a partnership that ended poorly in 2007. Lutz, meanwhile, coasted over to rival General Motors, where he championed such sportscars as the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Solstice, family cars like the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick Enclave, and the Chevrolet Volt, the Automobile Magazine 2011 Automobile of the Year.