Archive for February, 2009

What about Bob Lutz?

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Bob LutzWhat about Bob Lutz? – by Chuck, submitted by Billy

In early February 2009, we learned that Bob Lutz, GM’s internal Car Czar, will step down later in the year. Lutz has had his share of swings and misses, and has more than his share of fans and critics. But his legacy at The General should be judged as much by what he prevented than by what he accomplished.

When Lutz joined GM in 2001, one of the first things he did was review every product project under development, in order to get an idea what was in the oven, what was hot, and what was not. What he found was an Aztek behind every door.

He quickly went about killing the turkeys, and delaying a few other things so he could work them around a bit. When shown one particular sports car, he reputedly asked “What’s that” He was told “that’s the new C6 corvette!” His reply, according to one source, was “Oh no it’s not…”

Lutz pushed for more expressive design, and higher quality interiors. If you like cars such as the Malibu, Aura, and current-gen CTS, thank Bob. If you think the Volt is a significant accomplishment, thank Bob. If you enjoy your Solstice or Sky, imperfect though they are, thank Bob. And I certainly appreciate that he gave us the 2004-06 Pontiac GTO, which led to one of my current faves, the G8 GXP. He also peeled off a lot of plastic body cladding along the way.

We’ll never know how many bad ideas Lutz kept from becoming reality, but I’m confident there were many. Every ill-conceived project he killed or redirected is nearly as important as every successful one he was behind. Because the last thing any car company needs is to be its own worst enemy. Many of them — GM perhaps at the head of the class — have done enough of that.