The intuitive insight that would save Chrysler in the 1990s came to Bob Lutz, then the company’s president, during a weekend drive. On a warm day in 1988, Lutz took his Cobra roadster for a spin. As he raced along the roads in southeastern Michigan, he tried to relax, pushing aside what critics had been saying about Chrysler—that the company was brain-dead, technologically dated, and uninspired and that it lagged dangerously behind not only the Japanese auto-makers but also General Motors and Ford.by Alden M. Hayashi, senior editor at HBR
Ironically, Lutz found it difficult to enjoy himself precisely because he was finding the drive so pleasurable. “I felt guilty: there I was, the president of Chrysler, driving this great car that had such a strong Ford association, ”he says, referring to the original Cobra’s Ford V-8 engine. In fact, Lutz’s strong sense of corporate loyalty had earlier led him to remove the “Powered by Ford” plaques from his car. Still, the guilt needled him, and on this drive he began wondering about replacing the Cobra’s engine with one from Chrysler. Perhaps then he could enjoy his beloved sports car in peace. But he quickly realized that Chrysler did not have a V-8 engine that was up to snuff. If he made the switch, the car would lose considerable performance. “Chrysler was way, way, way behind,” he remembers admitting to himself.