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          A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

History History General Motors
        1960 - 2009

Something had happened, the apparently intact world of the USA had crumbled. Even though in 1960, the dynamic, and in most of the world, highly respected president J. F. Kennedy came to power, still the signs of things to come were gloomy. In 1962, Marilyn Monroe who had felt more than respect for this president, ('Happy birthday, Mr. President') committed suicide. In 1963 Kennedy himself was assissinated, in 1968, his brother, as well as the Nobel Peace Prize awardee, Martin Luther King. America was going through a difficult period with the equal rights of the black population.

In the meantime, the Korean war had, for a long time now, and under difficult circumstances, been ended, America had resisted Soviet Russia successfully in the Cuba crisis, but at the same time had been so deeply involved in the war against Vietnam, that they would only come out of that one suffering a total loss. At the same time Kennedy started an unprecedented lunar space programme, which would also have been successfully ended, even without Kennedy's aims of cooperation with the USSR.

In the above figure, one of the highlights of that time can be seen. The people, especially the young people, now had money for unreasonable cars, in fact, they created a regular demand for them. While the Ford Mustang of 1964 was the first pony -car, the Pontiac GTO with its endless ancestors, would be genarally known as the first muscle-car.

In 1950, General Motors, as far as some in the USA were concerned, had already become too big. The anti-trust authority (Federal Cartel Office) threatened them with the breaking up of the group. It was not only about automobiles, also in the sector of diesel-electric engines they had asserted themselves, thanks once again to Kettering. In addition, they were still particularly involved with refrigerators, other household appliances and in the field of aviation. However, being the biggest concern in the United States, GM succeeded in distracting from the subject of dividing the concern.

In 1965, Ralph Nader's book 'Unsafe at any speed' appeared. Nader was a lawyer, and parallel to his studies, had dealt with the safety aspect of motor-vehicle construction, and was, at the time, already active for the government. He accused the car factories of placing more importance on the styling than on the safety aspects of their vehicles, and of even securing this with unwritten agreements among the various competitors. Due to his particular criticism of the Chevrolet Corvair, he discovered an observation by detectives, that in the end, GM was forced to admit publicly.

Ignacio Lopez's reign was, in the end, also not an honourable period for GM. He began his activities as an engineer and planner for GM-Spain. He produced sensational results by putting pressure on the supplier's prices and with the effectivity of vehicle production. However, he was feared by all who suffered from the results of his actions, the suppliers, the workers in the production lines and the customers, because through the pooling of various components, spare parts become more expensive.

For what ever reasons, the very ambitious Lopez was enticed away by VW. He took seven of his employees with him, and what seemed to be even much more important, a good deal of confidential documents as well. Now VW found out, e.g. how the Corsa B would be built, under which favorable conditions components were bought and who knows what else besides. Although GM later won the case and VW had to eat humble-pie by dismissing Lopez, making compensation payments and forced buying, nonetheless, the advantage of having the knowledge, remained with their hottest competitor.

Opel got very bad publicity, not only with the Kadet-series, of suffering from excessive rusting, particularly in comparison to the Golf 2. Other investigations brought to light, that GM had obviously not made investments - whereas other motor companies did - in more modern paint finishing systems. From time to time, rust had always been a subject, nowadays a thing of the past at Opel, however, pub-talk keeps the rumours of rusting Opels stubbornly alive. Nobody, on the other hand, seems to take any notice of the fact that the chairman of the board at Mercedes publicly admitted rust in their previous E-class.

Apart from that, Opel had been, for a long time, a very good subsidiary, making annual transfers of up to 1 billion DM to the mother-company. GM were quite happy to fall back on Opel technology after the various oil- and sales crises. In a number of small to mid-range GM models the engines are marked with the "ECOTEC" sign. This is probably the reason why GM is loathe to let go of Opel. However, it is a critical point that Opel, with their present models are not prepared to risk enough to counter this GM wish. 11/09               Top of page               Index
2001-2014 Copyright programs, texts, animations, pictures: H. Huppertz - Email
Translator: Don Leslie - Email:

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