Lutz Leaving GM: End of an Era

LUTZ Bob

They call him “Maximum Bob” for reasons that are obvious when you look at his career: maximum effort, maximum candor, and maximum love of cars. The ex-Marine worked for all of the Big Three, but did most for GM in the last 8 years. He will leave at the end of this year. There are tributes here and here and here

People love this guy because of his no-BS attitude. He famously called global warming a “total crock of sh*t.” A maverick and a risk-taker who put Chrysler on its feet in the ‘90s and then came to GM to help revamp their marketing and production processes, Lutz created the GM cars that brought the company renown and new buyers. 

We want to show you some of them, not just because they are his legacy, but because they helped bring GM back to life—at least for the present. Had the company proceeded on the Pontiac Aztek track on which it was headed in the ‘90s, there would be no GM to even consider bailing out.

3220976825_996a0234004  2006-gto1

Lutz is particularly proud of the Chevrolet Volt, which will be in preproduction form and testing this summer. And, in another key move, he revived the Pontiac GTO in a beautiful new shape.

cts-2009  2007_pontiac_solstice_gxp

The Cadillac CTS (2009 shown here) literally brought the brand back to life and has made everyone’s best U.S. cars list. Lutz also developed a reasonably priced sports car, the Pontiac Solstice, and made it the best-selling roadster in the U.S.

2009-opel-insignia  malibu

We wrote about the Opel Insignia last month. Reportedly it’s one of Lutz’s favorite cars. And then the Chevy Malibu, whose seventh iteration in 2008 finally got it right.

Lutz has said that the two key things he did at GM were to globalize product development and elevate design to its primary role in customer choice. Doing that in a company hidebound by its corporate culture is an incredible achievement.

We didn’t even mention his contributions to Chrysler (the Viper, the Prowler) and BMW (the 3-Series). 

Or the fact that he flies fighter planes and helicopters. 

Which of Lutz’s cars are your favorites?

—jgoods

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