In Comeback, Pulitzer Prize-winners Paul Ingrassia and Joseph B. White take us to the boardrooms, the executive offices, and the shop floors of the auto business to reconstruct, in riveting detail, how America's premier industry stumbled, fell, and picked itself up again. The story begins in 1982, when Honda started building cars in Marysville, Ohio, and the entire U.S. car industry seemed to be on the brink of extinction. It ends just over a decade later, with a remarkable turn of the tables, as Japan's car industry falters and America's Big Three emerge as formidable global competitors.
Comeback is a story propelled by larger-than-life characters -- Lee Iacocca, Henry Ford II, Don Petersen, Roger Smith, among many others -- and their greed, pride, and sheer refusal to face facts. But it is also a story full of dedicated, unlikely heroes who struggled to make the Big Three change before it was too late.
After posting record operating losses of $7.5 billion in 1991, Detroit's ``Big Three'' automakers seemed headed for disaster. But the last three years have brought a dramatic turnaround. How Ford, Chrysler and General Motors transformed themselves from tottering dinosaurs turning out defect-ridden cars in the 1980s into efficient producers of popular automobiles is the theme of this riveting, juicy, optimistic report. Ingrassia, Wall Street Journal senior editor in Detroit, and White, the Journal's deputy bureau chief in Michigan, offer a familiar story-American plants adapted Japanese methods and technology learned from Japanese-U.S. joint ventures. But the authors also provide a candid inside look at Big Three decision-making, power struggles, arrogance and near-diasters, telling how a new cadre of managers replaced a stultifying status quo, along with withering profiles of Lee Iacocca, Roger Smith, Donald Petersen, Bob Lutz and other top auto executives. Photos. First serial to Wall Street Journal; author tour.