Growth5 Blog

Thursday, May 7, 2009

"It Takes a Long Time to Go By..."

In 1971, I joined the staff of The Wall Street Journal in Detroit. General Motors was the biggest company in the world. Gasoline on Woodward Avenue cost 25 cents a gallon. And, at a lunch with the head of Buick Division, he sniffed at the comparatively tiny import cars and declared proudly that, "When a American passes you on the road, it takes a long time for him to go by."

That arrogance vanished rapidly when the first energy crisis depressed sales of his hulking Electra 225s and boosted sales of the venerable Beetle. But few realized that was the first major crack in the clay feet of the Detroit giants.

Now, almost four decades later, Chrysler is bankrupt and GM is facing a similar fate. It has taken a long time for the Detroit iron to go by.

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