By on March 20, 2010

Bob Lutz and Bob Eaton bask in the glow of niche appeal, circa 1997 [via The NY Times‘ eulogy for Bob Lutz]. But don’t put MaxBob in a box:

“People who characterize me as a mindless muscle-car, cubic-inches fanatic don’t know my background,” he said. “I’ve always had a great fondness for relatively small and underpowered cars,” citing the 1981 Ford Cockpit, a Ghia-bodied three-wheel concept car that topped 75 m.p.g.; the European version of the Ford Escort; and the inexpensive Pontiac Solstice roadster.

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30 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Maximum Legacy Edition...”


  • avatar
    mdwheary

    And his 1937 Steelcraft Auburn pedal car.

  • avatar
    crash sled

    “I’ve always had a great fondness for relatively small and underpowered cars,” citing the 1981 Ford Cockpit, a Ghia-bodied three-wheel concept car…

    .

    So brother Maximum was touting a 3-wheeler, even as we were moving forward into the era of maximum crash protection, and even as the ORV industry was making maximum effort to abandon the 3-wheel dead end?

    What a maximum doofus this guy is. I can’t wait ’til that Volt maximally crashes and burns, and we can bury these moronic “car guys” once and for all, at maximum depth.

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      I forget the name, I believe it starts with an A. But some company is toting a 3 wheel EV. Biased on the fact that it’s an EV the tools over at autobloggreen are treating it as Raptor-Jesus.

      Of coarse they treat any EV with raptor-jesus worship, hell they even wanted that BYD EV. Chinese quality FTL!

  • avatar
    ott

    I don’t care what anybody says: Gotta give ’em credit for the Solstice/Sky. I really hope someone at GM realizes what fun little cars these were and bring them back under the Chevy nameplate. Anyone know if this is being considered by GM? Chevy Solstice. I like the sound of that!

    • 0 avatar
      mtymsi

      Most likely not considering the Delaware plant that built them was closed last summer. I find it interesting that those cars were the #1 seller in their segment yet GM couldn’t make a business case for continuing production under the Chevy nameplate. If I remember correctly GM claimed they not only didn’t profit from these models but lost money on them which would be par for the course for Maximum Bob’s long list of niche vehicles while at GM.

      Maximum Bob, a legend only in his own mind. Good riddance.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    “People who characterize me as a mindless muscle-car, cubic-inches fanatic don’t know my background,”…

    No Bob, knowing your backround, you’re just mindless. You do have a highly developed ability to fail up, but that one is pretty common in American business these days.

    • 0 avatar
      rmwill

      Never let a good Lutz bashing opportunity pass even if it is a mindless one. What a predictable comment. What was it that he did that hurt you so much?

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      I could lay out a 2000 word essay on the half-baked product, inability to man-up (doesn’t matter if it IS a perception gap Bobby, fix it), lotsa cheesy sizzle – no steak…

      Did Chrysler’s leadership develop the product and profits to avoid the Daimler ‘marriage’?

      Did anything he did at GM keep them from being a ward of the State?

      So yeah, I’ll piss on Lutz’s parade anytime it comes around.

      If we do not quit celebrating bad performance in this country, we will never get return to a position of world leadership.

    • 0 avatar
      rmwill

      Umm…

      3 Series BMW (You familiar with those?), Ford Sierra (Brought Ford of Europe into modern ages), Chrysler LH Cars (Saved Company). His success at GM, given how piss poor products that were in the pipeline, is unmistakable. World class GM product? No way, but much improved.

      Name me another single executive that can claim simiar victories.

      Are you one of those who are insulted by his plain talk on “climate change”?

      Wondering…

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      “If we do not quit celebrating bad performance in this country, we will never get return to a position of world leadership.”

      .

      This is it in a nutshell. Many people are looking for a savior, a personality, somebody out front. Generally, that’s what people like Lutz are leveraging… this quest for a messiah. All the “car guys” did this. They’re salesman… and the auto industry has been devastated by their lack of performance, in anything other than convincing the rubes and magazine writers that their personality as “car guys” is all by itself worthy of being graded as “performance”. That’s what salesmen do… they try to trick you.

      We can judge their true performance by the insolvency of those companies, and that insolvency was driven by the likes of Lutz and Lido… blowhard salesmen who flapped their gums right into insolvency.

      Tell me … would you rather have Lutz and Lido… or Mullaly and Kuzak? (and Kuzak may be an old Ford hand and a savvy auto engineer, but he’s every bit the antithesis of the classic “car guy” as Mullaly is)

      We need to rid ourselves of this era of showmanship and bombast, and get back to performance, and making cars people want to buy, and MAKING MONEY off those sales, and creating profitable enterprises. Lutz’ attempts at all this went… you guessed it… insolvent.

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      Remember Exide? CEO till it went Tango Uniform…

      3-Series? Minor role in development. And that’s the most generous you’ll ever hear anybody be. LH? Those were a triumph? Really? And once again, results? Sold to Daimler.

      Lutz at GM. Camaro. Solstice. SUVs. These were Bobby’s winning strategies?

      crash sled gets it.

      Lutz was just like Lido. A slick salesman, nothing more. Proof is in the pudding – Bob’s been hanging around senior leadership roles for 2+ major companies going BK.

      Traits of successful leadership, he’s just loaded with them. I wouldn’t let him run a McDonalds. But I’m sure he’d be fine on a buy-here, pay-here lot.

      Am I “hurt by his straight talk on climate change”? Nah, he’s just an old fart that can’t sit down and read through irrefutable reams of data, and figure out there’s a problem.

      Can’t do that when he’s on the job. Why would he be able to do it in his spare time?

    • 0 avatar
      rmwill

      “Am I “hurt by his straight talk on climate change”? Nah, he’s just an old fart that can’t sit down and read through irrefutable reams of data, and figure out there’s a problem.”

      Irrefutable data… Gotcha sporto.

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      “Irrefutable data… Gotcha sporto.”

      OK. I’ll grant there are those who will produce “data” to argue that that the planet is flat, the Holocaust never happened, and that “god” just dumped us all on this planet ~7000 years ago.

      Fortunately, I learned to examine facts from multiple sources and look for patterns, question the credibility of the source, examine the methodology of the study – the scientific method.

      Is there disagreement about minor points? Sure. Is everybody in lockstep about the projections? Nope. Is the veracity of data gathered by JPL, NASA, NOAA, and countless other respected orgs in doubt in anyway? Only on Glenn Beck’s alcohol-brain-damaged alternate universe.

      So, please visit Glacier National Park – the glacier that has been there for 7000 years will be gone in the next 20. Not receding, just gone.

      Go visit Alaska – check out the permafrost. Watch that line move north. Look at the satellite photos for the Arctic and Antarctic.

      Of course, the climate changes with or without us. Of course, man is only one source of greenhouse gasses. But please, arguing the science and corresponding effects aren’t there, is just denial.

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      Of course, the climate changes with or without us. Of course, man is only one source of greenhouse gasses. But please, arguing the science and corresponding effects aren’t there, is just denial.”

      porschespeed, it isn’t “denial” to demand that the jokers engaging in whatever nonsense they’ve been engaging in are forced to comply with a legitimate peer review process. They may feel that they have this all figured out, and are so very enlightened and are thus empowered by Mother Gaia to do whatever they can to evangelize us poor rubes out here, but that still doesn’t excuse them from that proper peer review process. Us rubes need to see the process, and have it repeated elsewhere, not have it hidden and clandestinely pushed into trillions of dollar expenditures. The jokers got caught… nailed is more like it.

      Lutz’ problem is that he forgot his prime mission, and that mission doesn’t include taking positions on global warming. Yes, I’d say most engineers look at all this skeptically, but that doesn’t mean any engineer needs to broadcast their views indiscriminately. Lutz is a doofus, for that and so many other reasons, no matter what he does or does not think about global warming.

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      “porschespeed, it isn’t “denial” to demand that the jokers engaging in whatever nonsense they’ve been engaging in are forced to comply with a legitimate peer review process. They may feel that they have this all figured out, and are so very enlightened and are thus empowered by Mother Gaia to do whatever they can to evangelize us poor rubes out here, but that still doesn’t excuse them from that proper peer review process. Us rubes need to see the process, and have it repeated elsewhere, not have it hidden and clandestinely pushed into trillions of dollar expenditures. The jokers got caught… nailed is more like it.”

      Were the data *not* peer reviewed, open to examination, and readily available from a cornucopia of disparate sources, I’d be right there with you. Seriously, plenty of shenanigans go on in the world of data dissemination, and corporate intrigue is the way of the world.

      If the only ‘gotcha’ you’ve seen is those emails that involved a rather small number of researchers, well, taken out of context some of the humor was rather damning. But, read the whole lot, I think you’ll get the whole picture.

      Sure some of that stuff was unprofessional. Everyone in every job has moments of ‘unprofessionalism’ that would be shocking, shocking I tell you, if they were on tape. This is an indictment of the meta data-set how?

      Put up data from any testable source that shows lower CO2 readings in the atmosphere. Put up data that’s different that the NASA, JPL, NOAA ocean temperature data. Come up with another theory of what’s killing the coral reefs and moving thr permafrostlayer north.

      Honestly, seriously, I’m always open to contradictory data. I have no fear of reading a report.

  • avatar

    The man did a ton of good for Chrysler in the 90s, virtually transforming that company. Big Lee and Lutz were the best things to happen there since the 1960s. It’s a shame Eaton sold the entire thing out to the Germans for them to ruin.

    Though his track record at GM has been less successful than his stint at Chrysler (and he is endlessly hated on here) give him credit for refocusing GM back on style and design instead of just squirting out jellybeans left and right with vinyl interiors and expecting them to sell. Like they were before he arrived.

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      I can’t argue that Chryco didn’t have a pile of cash, and product in the pipeline – they had both.

      If that’s the measure of success, then I get your point. But the K-cars and the minivans were utter crap – yes they sold, but compared to Hondotas of the day, they were designed and built in the stone-age. I remember shopping K-cars when they were new – horrible fit and finish, rattles, buzzes, creaks and groans.

      Foisting those abominations off on the public was just one more nail in the coffin of the D3.

      I have always wanted to see a competitive domestic auto industry, and people like Lee and Lutz have no idea how to compete on a global stage.

    • 0 avatar
      Runfromcheney

      I don’t know what game you watched, as Lutz had nothing to do with the K-Cars. Actually, it is the opposite; Lutz is the one who laid the K-Cars to rest and was the brains behind the wildly successful cab-forward cars of the mid-to-late 90s. He knew that the merger with Daimler could only end in disaster, and jumped ship in 1998 when it seemed imminent.

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      @Runfromcheney,

      TriShield dragged Chairman Lee into the equation, ergo the K-Car reference.

      As to the cab-forwards, from a competitive standpoint, pretty much the same story as the K. They sold, but the quality wasn’t hot, and they were expensive for what they were.

      Sorry, never saw any genius come out of Lutz. Rather, he was just another backwards thinking D3 exec. He’ll be whining about a perception gap till the day he dies.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Relatively small and underpowered:
    – Chrysler Atlantic,
    – Cadillac Sixteen.

    (But I do think his pushing of Platform Teams and enabling Gales’ Cab Forward during his Chrysler-era were brilliant, and his attempt to get GM to raise its game in design and interior quality were appropriate. Had he arrived earlier into the GM death-spiral, things might have been quite different. Don’t forget, that even GM’s harshist critic this side of Robert Farago, (the recently departed) Jerry York, felt that Lutz gave him good support during his relatively short, but prescient, GM tenure.)

  • avatar
    educatordan

    Sorry Bob, I don’t really consider the Solstice underpowered. Four cyl, yes, underpowered, no. The only gripe I have with it is the requirement of premium fuel for the non-supercharged versions. That’s the biggest thing keeping me from considering it as a commuter vehicle now that the resale values on them are dropping.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      Wait I’m sorry he didn’t say it was underpowered, he said it was inexpensive. Was it? Does anybody remember how the MSRP when new compared to the Miata or the Z3 Roadster?

    • 0 avatar
      BlueEr03

      The non-turbo Sky has an MSRP at around $28K, vs a MSRP of $23K for a base MX-5 and $35K for the S2000. I would say those would be the most cross shopped cars with the Sky/Solstice, and it fits right in the middle. Of course, you can option a MX-5 up to 28K and the S2000 does have about 60 extra Horses compared to the Sky.

      Also, out of those three cars (and I am sure the Z4 as well), they all require (recommended?) premium fuel.

      Edit: I read Sky the first time, the Solstice actually MSRPs around $25K for the base model. I didn’t realize there was that much of a price difference between the two cars.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      Wow, so was there any standard content difference between the Sky and Solstice?

    • 0 avatar
      BlueEr03

      Yeah, it looks like A/C, cruise, power everything, and remote key less entry; all standard on the Sky and not the solstice. So I am guessing any Solstice that would be bought as a daily driver would be the same price as the Sky.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    The Neo (Matrix) style sunglasses and pose is what’s wrong.

    However, I would love to be able to do what he did on the CTS-V challenge, at 77. Having such big career in the auto industry wouldn’t hurt either.

  • avatar
    Ion

    Wow I didn’t realize how hideous the Prowler is at that angle. They wanted 40k for this?

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    The one to the left (Bob Eaton) ranks up there with “Chainsaw” Al Dunlop, Bill “Mary” Agee, “Neutron” Jack Welch and Bob “Home Depot Wrecker” Nardelli.

    Can anyone tell me which business these sorry excuses for CEOs ruined?

    • 0 avatar
      Runfromcheney

      I know Al Dunlop destroyed Scott’s and Nardelli destroyed Home Depot and later Chrysler.

      Bob Eaton certainly was a class-A moron. Not only did he hinder Chrysler’s growth with his rampant cost-cutting (Imagine how much more successful the Neon would have been if he wouldn’t have insisted that they used cheaper materials for the car’s mechanicals, even against the wishes of the engineers) but then he flipped them off to Daimler because he was afraid of the company getting sucked down during an oncoming recession and didn’t care to want to deal with it himself.

      And to think. the only reason why Eaton got the job over Lutz was simply because of Lee Iacocca’s massive ego.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Why would anyone think Lutz could have been Chryco’s savior after his well documented performance at GM?

    Do “saviors” usually help lead a company into BK?

    And don’t claim Lutz didn’t do that at GM. Had he focused on mainstream profitable vehicles things very well may have turned out differently. But instead he chose to concentrate on unprofitable niche market vehicles.

    Facts are facts and although I don’t entirely dismiss Lutz’s accomplishments at GM overall he or someone else in his position could have done a lot more to bring profitable mainstream vehicles to market. IMO Lutz was a large part of the problem with GM’s former top management. He wasn’t at all responsive to the market or profitability.

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