My name is Robert Farago and I invented the nickname “Maximum” Bob Lutz. I crowned Bob with the title at the New York Auto Show, standing next to GM’s all powerful Car Czar at the urinal. I had no idea that a man could take that long to take a piss. You could spend GM’s entire development budget on niche vehicles in the time it takes Maximum Bob to empty his bladder. With similar results. I’m not saying Maximum Bob is old and decrepit, but when he offered to prostrate himself in front of the Presidential Task Force on Autos, he was asking them to fund an operation.
You may have heard Maximum Bob go on and on and on about the perception gap. Very few people realize that Bob actually suffers from failing eyesight. I’m not saying he can’t tell the difference between a Chevy Malibu and a Honda Accord. Oh, wait . . . I am.
Seriously, Bob Lutz will tell you straight out: General Motors makes the world’s best automobiles. I mean, now. Wait . . . NOW! Hang on . . . NOW! Here it comes here it comes give us $50 billion give us high tech research subsidies give us tax breaks for our factories bailout our union health care give us a $10 billion retooling loan and . . . NOW!
So why don’t people buy GM products instead of them American-made furrin’ automobiles? As Bob might say, it’s the stupid customers, stupid. Of course, calling your customers stupid is stupid. But now that taxpayers own GM, calling Maximum Bob stupid for calling GM customers stupid is stupid. You never know; he might go and blow a billion bucks building another Chevrolet SSR, just out of spite.
As we all know, Maximum Bob is no longer GM’s Car Czar. He’s surrendered the keys to the executive jet to become the nationalized automaker’s marketing maven. Which is a bit like hiring a cavity to promote fluoride. Or putting the Titanic’s first mate in charge of selling cruises to Antarctica.
But you got to admire Maximum Bob’s chutzpah. His first campaign challenges American car buyers with the slogan “May the Best Car Win.” Little known fact: he cribbed that campaign from The Detroit Lions’ “May the Best Football Team Win.” Personally, I would have gone with Monty Python’s “It’s Just A Flesh Wound.” But then Bob and King Arthur grew up together, and you gotta respect your homies.
I suppose no roast would be complete without mentioning Maximum Bob’s infamous “global warming is a crock of shit” remark. Clearly, Bob was trying to warn overzealous environmentalists about the disadvantages of trying to reclaim energy—and thus money—from freshly disgorged excrement. Who better to issue that kind of heads-up than the man in charge of developing HUMMER?
The Truth About Cars has an annual Bob Lutz Award. We give it to the car executive whose statements are so far divorced from reality they make a promise that the sun will rise in the west an entirely credible prediction. There’s no question that Maximum Bob will win again this year. And for that, we salute you Bob. We will miss you. We hope you’ll enjoy your bankruptcy-proof pension as much as Aveo owners enjoy their GM product.
Wait; this isn’t your retirement party? Well then let me put it this way . . . When the history of GM’s turnaround is written, the name “Maximum Bob” will figure prominently. Note to Lutz: you’ll find it in the large-print, fiction section.