Mulally, Nader lead new class into auto hall of fame – Detroit Free Press
Alan Mulally, the CEO who flew in from Boeing to rescue Ford Motor Co., leads 2016’s inductees to the Automotive Hall of Fame.
The rest of the class is:
The Industry Leader of the Year is Matthew J. Simoncini of supplier Lear. Simoncini has made the interior supplier part of Detroit’s resurgence.
Michael Manley, the Fiat Chrysler executive who has overseen record sales and global expansion at Jeep and also leads the Ram commercial vehicle brand, will receive a Distinguished Service Citation.
Mulally came to Detroit at Ford’s lowest moment, when the company’s very survival was in doubt. He put an end to decades of management infighting and mortgaged every asset the company had — even the “Ford” oval emblem — in creative, but risky, financing that allowed the company to avoid bankruptcy and government oversight during the Great Recession. Mulally focused the company on the core Ford brand and sold the pack of luxury brands his predecessors had accumulated.
Demonized by many within the auto industry for decades, Ralph Nader made history with his 1965 book, “Unsafe at Any Speed,” which savaged the Chevrolet Corvair compact and the industry’s inattention to safety. His work gave birth to the consumer protection movement and began automakers’ evolution into an industry that treated safety systems as prized selling features rather than costs to be avoided.
Bertha Benz made history when she took Carl’s Benz Patent Motorwagen on the world’s first long-distance automobile trip Aug. 5, 1888. Bertha had been one of Carl’s leading investors before the two wed. Her 60-mile drive with two sons to visit her mother in Pforzheim — a trip Carl didn’t even know she was taking — helped popularize the idea of cars as personal transportation. The Benzes are the only husband and wife in the Automotive Hall of Fame.
Roy Lunn had the unenviable assignment of fulfilling Henry Ford II’s goal of trouncing rival Enzo Ferrari’s exotic sports cars in the world’s most glamourous endurance race. The contest between the two industry titans was intense, fueled by Hank the Deuce’s anger when Ferrari called off a deal to sell his sports car company to Ford.
If Ford couldn’t buy ‘em, he was determined to beat ‘em. Englishman Lunn was put in charge of a team with one goal: Beat Ferrari on its home ground, Europe’s prestigious Le Mans 24-hour race. Lunn had already led the team that developed the legendary mid-engine Mustang 1 prototype. The stunning GT40 went on to win Le Mans four straight times, 1966-’69, in addition to its podium-filling sweep of first, second and third places in 1966.
Lunn left Ford to become Jeep’s chief engineer in 1971. He began work on the XJ Cherokee and Wagoneer, pioneering the brand’s use of unibody chassis for SUVs. The vehicles became two of the most popular Jeeps. Lunn also created the AMC Eagle, a 4WD sedan that foreshadowed current crossover SUVs and AWD cars.
Manley has led Jeep to sales records and overseen the brand’s collaboration with Fiat engineering to develop vehicles like the Renegade and the current Cherokee. Jeep has become one of the engines that drives Fiat Chrysler. Manley also leads FCA’s other cash cow, the Ram commercial vehicle brand.
Detroit native Simoncini has become one of the city’s leading boosters. The president and CEO of Lear has opened two new facilities for design and software development downtown. The interior supplier is also a major supporter of a new supplier park on the city’s East Side.
The awards will be presented July 21 in a black-tie event in the new Grand Riverview Ballroom at Cobo Center in Detroit. All the living inductees are expected to attend.
For more information, go to http://www.automotivehalloffame.org/induction-ceremony or contact Kerry Doyle at 313-240-4000 or KDoyle@thedrivingspirit.org.
Contact Mark Phelan: 313-222-6731 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan