Bob Lutz Hangs Up On Ed Whitacre’s GM

The inevitable has been announced; Bob Lutz is leaving Ed Whitacre’s new General Motors. From the New York Times:

Vice Chairman Bob Lutz will retire from the automaker effective May 1, people briefed on the plans said on Wednesday.

Lutz, 78, had been serving as a senior adviser to GM Chairman and Chief Executive Ed Whitacre after shelving retirement plans to take charge of the automaker’s marketing after it emerged from bankruptcy in July 2009.
The announcement comes a day after GM shook up its sales and marketing operations in its home market for the third time in five months.

Lutz was charged with overhauling GM’s marketing efforts under former CEO Fritz Henderson, but he appeared to have been sidelined by Whitacre, a former AT&T executive brought in by the Obama administration.

In late February, Whitacre named Stephen Girsky, a former investment banker, as special adviser and vice chairman in charge of corporate strategy, a move that raised questions about the tenure and role of Lutz.

And it really was inevitable. Last December when Fritz Henderson was unceremoniously dumped in a midnight putsch by Ed Whitacre, the former corporate phone boy from AT&T, we had some things to say here. Marcy, noting Whitacre’s professed desire to ram products to market quicker – to do everything quicker – observed:

Now maybe it would be possible to bring out new products more quickly. Maybe there is merit to disrupting the very complex model year and product cycle schedules that every car company relies on to manage new product introductions.

But I worry that this push to introduce products more quickly will come at a price–the price of doing it right, both from an engineering perspective (you don’t want the Cruze to come out with all sorts of recalls, after all) and from a marketing perspective (if you introduce a product but don’t have the marketing budget to support it, it’s not going to do much good).

And I commented that the Whitacre putsch had other consequences too:

There is one other consideration. With Fritz gone, the only marketable face GM has left to the actual auto people is Bob Lutz, and he will bolt in a heartbeat if he thinks the wrong car decisions are being made. Lutz is very comfortable with the big money wheeler dealers, but he is, first and foremost, a car guy all the way. And he does not need the money or grief. If they were to lose Lutz in any short order in addition to Henderson, they will have a potential real mess.

Well it turns out the thoughts may have been prescient. And make no mistake, Lutz is in fine health and as active and ornery as ever; he is leaving because he is dissatisfied with what he sees happening under GM’s newfangled corporatist leadership. Lutz did not agree to stay on a mere couple of months ago just to up and leave now; at least not if he was satisfied with the plan and direction of the company.

No, despite the happy talk you may see in the news, Lutz doesn’t like what he is seeing. In an article hitting the New York Times last night, reporting the second shuffling of sales and marketing leadership in GM in the last three months (i.e. since Whitacre took over), came this ominous passage tacked on to the end of the article almost as an afterthought:

The moves are a sign of Whitacre’s impatience, but may not be wise because it generally takes 12 to 18 months for people to become effective in their jobs, said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean at the Yale School of Management.

Whitacre, Sonnenfeld said, is all about convincing people to buy GM’s products rather than improving them over the long term.

”This is an illusion of take-charge as opposed to actually working on strategic visions, creating great product,” he said. ”This is his, I think, extremely short-term view.”

So Ed Whitacre, an AT&T corporatist specializing in huge executive compensation packages while screwing his customers, was the guy the Obama Administration and the Wall Street Masters Of The Universe led by Steven Rattner installed, and he wasted little time in getting rid of Fritz Henderson, a widely respected executive steeped in the automotive industry and trusted to make the GM transition, first made himself temporary CEO and then decreed himself permanent CEO after a Dick Cheney like comprehensive search for the best person for the job.

And now Phone Boy Whitacre, who was supposed to be being advised and trained on such issues by Lutz, one of the most accomplished and successful marketing and product development guys in the history of the automotive business, has instead lent his ear to Girsky, the former investment banker, for “corporate strategy”. That is corporate strategy writ idiotic.

Say what you will about Bob Lutz, and much has been said over the years, the man is the consummate car guy, both in his love for them and his legendary track record in producing and marketing them. BMW was floundering along as a marque when Lutz weighed in on the design and development of the now ubiquitous 3 Series and made it the centerpiece in the push to establish their presence in North America. That worked out pretty well, to put it lightly.

It may be hard to grasp right now, but there was a time when Ford was on the ropes, and if not for anti-trust concerns, probably would have been in real danger of sinking. For all of the things said about the Ford Explorer, it single handedly saved Ford and reinvigorated the company. That was a Bob Lutz program (no, he did not design or specify the crappy Firestone/Bridgestone tires and corresponding suspension tweaking that led to the problems).

Same with Chrysler; while his Chrysler products like the new Ram truck, Viper, Prowler and LH platforms that led to current sedans like the 300, Charger and Challenger may not have been very eco-friendly, they were the pizzaz and new blood that, for a period gave new life and a continued existence to a dying brand. What has occurred at Chrysler since he left, a moribund company with no desirable products and no buzz whatsoever, speaks volumes.

In short, love him or hate him, Bob Lutz is a man with vision, guts and an unparalleled record of success in product development and marketing in the automotive manufacturing world. But Ed Whitacre has decided to listen to the former investment banker guy and scurry around like a chicken with his head cut off in an impatient search for instant gratification and profit. Ladies and gentlemen, your “New GM” as brought to you by the Obama Administration and the Wall Street Masters Of The Universe.

54 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    It’s hard to be an adviser when the guy paying you to do it doesn’t want to know, see, hear or speak anything new. He just wants to figure out how to turn a renewable manufacturing giant into a horde of cash.

  2. sundog says:

    According to this article, the government was also going to cut salaries at GM. So Lutz may be bailing because he doesn’t want to work for so “little” a salary.

    Whatever the case, it seems to me Ed Whitacre may be the nail in the coffin for GM. Of course, if that’s the case, he can always go find another company to ruin. I’ve worked for companies that thought they could push products through, by, well, just telling everyone else to work harder. Considering we were probably already close to working fifty to sixty hours a week, it wasn’t going to happen. Besides, you can only work so many fifty/sixty hour weeks in a row, before your productivity drops to below what it would be for a forty hour work week due to fatigue. Of course, the people running the company wouldn’t hear that, it was just that “we engineers” weren’t doing a good enough job. We did custom engineering work for the printing industry.

    They would come in and tell us, we sold X and need it out the door in three months. We’d just nod our heads then laugh after they left. I used to call it the big brown miracle, “I’ll crap that right out for you!” I feel for the engineers at GM if Whitacre is so stupid that he thinks he can just “mandate” what the development process will be. It might be a good time for GM engineers to get their resume’s over to Ford.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Lutz is not in it for the money. He’s got plenty of that. He wants control, visibility, influence, an impact over what goes to market and how. Whitacre is quickly making clear that taking better products to market is not his primary concern.

      • sundog says:

        Yeah, that’s true. I was also going to add that GM’s new product was turning around, IMHO because of Lutz, before Whitacre came along. I’m glad they didn’t dump Opel, as that is where much of the new product is coming from; like the new Regal. I was actually liking what some of the new GM product, but hearing what Whitacre is doing, I’ll most likely stay away from GM when I buy my new car.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I agree, except that the Opel deal was so far toward completion that reneging on it has given GM another enormous black eye in Europe and, I should think, for its reputation for completing even the biggest deals it informally commits to.

          Short selling GM might be useful in the short term, because Whitacre’s ability to run the company with his coterie of phone guys will be about as successful as Porter Goss running the CIA. Goss was there to take names, to bury or rebury skeletons, and protect Cheney’s massive outsourcing and torture programs.

          Whitacre is not in this for the long term or to turn the company around and successfully rebuild it. Which means short sellers could lose a bundle when deals are rumored or announced that bump the stock price.

          • chetnolian says:

            Black eye in Germany, most of Europe didn’t care, we’re quite pleased here in the UK because Opel planned to dump Vauxhall, and the Belgians would be pissed at any solution because it will hurt them..confusing place Europe.

            While we are on corporatist management instead of product experts, it’s been tried and worked elsewhere in a proud US engineering company, Boeing, the one which brought us 787, 747-8 and Wedgetail…..oh wait.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Magna would not have dumped Vauxhall. The biggest difference between GM retaining Opel and Opel becoming independent or part of a new group is that new management would actually want to own and operate the company, not worry about how its numbers impact the US or how much more tech they can transfer to China for a little more Maotai.

            • sundog says:

              I’m not sure what you’re getting at here, other than that their products, specifically, the 787, are behind schedule. I haven’t any doubt the 787 is going to be quite successful as will the 747-8. In fact, I agree with Boeing that the A380 was a huge mistake. Something Boeing knew, that apparently Airbus didn’t, is that most 747’s are flown on the routes they fly for their range, not carrying capacity; with the exception of freight.

              In the long run, the 787 will be better than the A350, which itself, not as advanced as the 787, is already running into scheduling problems. Does it mean it will be a bad aircraft? Not at all. I’m just pointing out it is a much more conservative design than the 787 and they’re already having problems and that designing complex commercial aircraft is difficult. Especially more so when they incorporate many new technologies at once as the 787 has done. In fact, the 787 is still the most successful new design in the history of modern commercial aircraft.

              As for the Wedgetail, that’s having development problems due to cross interference among the electronic systems, among other things. Once again, it’s an all new system and I honestly have no idea why Boeing thought it would be easier than it turned out to be. Not that Australia could have done much with them, considering they can’t afford to fly the aircraft they have at the moment. It was recently reported that the RAAF only has twenty one flyable F/A-18 Hornets of their entire seventy one aircraft on hand.

              • chetnolian says:

                It’s morning and I’m back. You misunderstand.

                I never said the 787 will be a bad aircraft, and don’t want to get into an Airbus/Boeing spat. They are both full of excellent engineers trying to do their best and marketeers trying their best to create discriminators. You only know if you were right afterwards, and both can point to pretty good decisions in their past.

                But the 787 lateness is on an epic acale up there with Concorde. At its heart appear to be the decision to build the first aircraft in several places at once. That looked like a good idea to finance/bus ops guys (lots of tight contracts to share risk etc.) but I’m sure the engineers could and did tell them that in terms of real risk it was stupid. And so it turned out. Airbus did get that one right with A380, building the first few in Tolouse. Then when in production the bits failed to fit at least they knew they had a machine which worked.

                And if the 787 fastener saga had not been so serious it would have been truly funny.

                In passing, the best piece of marketing speak I ever heard was “side of body”! From the dawn of aircraft that bit was called the wing root but that sounds so scary doesn’t it?

                And as to why Boeing didn’t realise Wedgetail would be so difficult, that is exactly my point. The finance/bus ops people didn’t understand. Bet the engineers did.

                I agree with you on the Australians though. Having been involved closely in losing in Australia the best contract ever to lose (remember Seasprite?)I know how distant their aspirations are from their finances and from airframers’ abilities.

                • sundog says:

                  OK, now I know what you’re talking about. I completely agree with you about Boeing taking outsourcing to it’s illogical conclusion. Of course, they aren’t any friends of unions either. Now that they’ve bought the Vought plant built to manufacture 787’s, they’re turning it into a production line so they can build it without those pesky unions. I wonder how Washington State feels about all of the concessions they’ve made to Boeing now?

                  Regarding the Seasprite, I remember reading about it in AvWeek, but I didn’t follow it too closely. What happened with that; was it a systems integration issue, lack of funds on the part of the Aussie government, or some combination of both? I always liked that helo. I fly it often in Flight Sim.

        • bmaz says:

          There are plusses and minuses on the Opel pull back. On the whole, I firmly believe they should have followed through once the decision was made. First off, I think Earl’s points @10 are correct; but secondly, I see nothing that Opel contributes at this point product wisethat cannot be accomplished just as well or better through Holden in Australia. If the idea was lean and mean; keeping Opel was a step back from that. And it royally pissed off the Germans…..

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Whitacre hasn’t the knowledge, patience or talent to maneuver a carrier fleet the size of GM in troubled waters, to protect market share while downsizing in politically and technically smart ways, or to develop new technologies and bring new products to market. His unemploying the top car guys makes that clear, as does reneging on the Opel deal and selling a majority stake in GM China to its already dominant partner SAIC.

    When GM no longer employs car guys senior enough to make decisions or to influence the decisions of others, then it will have no other status but as a pile of assets sellable to the highest bidder. That’s a business model Whitacre does understand and which would be enormously profitable to him, the senior outside advisers who would make it happen in short order, and the buyers themselves. The American taxpayer and shareholders, GM’s current and former employees and the thousands of communities dependent on them around the world? They’ll get the same value and the same news as did the newest Opel plant in Belgium, which is about to close: Tough shit and zai jian.

    • sundog says:

      So you’re saying he’ll sort of be like Dieter Zetsche was to Chrysler, or was it that Dieter just didn’t understand how to make product for the American market? I’ve never really understood why they bought Chrysler, based on what they did with it.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Mercedes always intended Chrysler as its American marketing and local production arm, not as a source of talent, engineering, ideas or management. That was meant to come from Stuttgart.

        No, I think Whitacre’s primary objective is to clean up what he can – witness those 500,000 contracts dumped into the old GM that is still in bankruptcy – and sort out the most lucrative way to repackage a giant into sellable morsels that would pass anti-trust and other government approval muster. He’s a matchmaker, who is taking his charge to the gym and the beauty parlor, but who will probably forget to give her any lessons in what to do or to avoid on the wedding night.

  4. DWBartoo says:

    Lutz, whatever one may think of his failings or prejudices, does have a sense of automobiles, rather similar to William Lyons’, and a long perspective of appreciation of sophisticated and powerful machinery, encouraged by his father who always had interesting automobiles.

    This does not bode well for GM.


      • chetnolian says:

        Let’s not get personal guys. Most of the problems I have had in my famously tempramental Italian Alfas have turned out to be in the electrics, from Siemens.

        • bmaz says:

          Hahaha, yeah Alfas and Lancias are/were not that much better. But Lucas, oh my, you halfway have to wonder if some of their stuff was not assembled by the Sisters of the Blind or something, at least circa 60s-80s anyway.

          • chetnolian says:

            Maybe they take a while to settle down. This is getting nerdy, but most of the electrics in my 53 year old Sunbeam (which I have owned since 1994) are Lucas and apart from rebushing the dynamo and putting the HT Lead back into the coil they haven’t failed atall. I know, I know, they will tomorrow…The regulator plays up a bit on occasions.

                • bmaz says:

                  Yes, that’s the one. Thing was scary fast, but way undersuspended and engineered for all the weight and power. Still, all in all, a uniquely fun and wild little ride

                  • PJEvans says:

                    On the other hand, this was the kind of car my parents got when I was very young. (Theirs was the 1951 export version, of which 100 were brought into the US.) It had Lucas lights, but its hardware problems had to do with things like vapor lock and a fuel pump that couldn’t deal with mountain driving. It really could do 90, and it was very elegant looking – the one we had was black with chrome trim exterior, and red leather seats.
                    (First question was a tossup between ‘what is it’ and ‘how fast will it go’.)

                  • Stephen says:

                    Yup, I tried in vain to outrun one heading to Detroit on the Canadian 401 with my 67 Goat ( 400 cu. in. ) over forty years ago. Will never forget he tried to pass me with his top down at 140 plus.

                    • Stephen says:

                      Yes, if I remember correctly all my tires had to be replaced shortly after all that stupidity, bulges and whatnot. Standard factory issue tires were just not up to speed in those days.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Yep, I replaced every electrical part in my used MGB/GT the first year (and last) year I owned it, including the wiper motor. Bought it from a priest; should have been my first clue. The second clue was when steam wash removed the bad paint and revealed the bondo; looked like a marble cake. Drove like a dream, though, when you could keep her on the road.

        • Teddy Partridge says:

          Nothing more fun than removing the twin batteries behind the seats in an MGB. Bloody knuckles, strained back, scraped knees. And then the replacements needed installing!

          • DWBartoo says:

            Ah, the twin batteries behind the seats, one on either side, yes Teddy you bring back memories …

            The left side battery board, a wooden board, verily, failed late one night,
            on a very bumpy right hand turn, as my 1955 MGA skipped along over the high points in the road … the board went, the battery on that side dropped all the way to the surface of the road, at which time I became aware that SOMETHING was amiss, I think it was the sparks and the loud dragging noise which convinced me of this …

            At that point, I began to consider that stopping was probably a good thing.

            In front of me, Bob’s father’s Mk VII, with Bob at the wheel, was rapidly disappearing, while behind me, Wally’s TR 3A was closing fast, but he saw the fireworks and slowed down, even as I signaled that I was pulling off the road.

            Did I say the road was narrow? And in the woods, and very twisty? With little in the way of shoulders right in that section? And also that I was moving along pretty quickly, not at the ragged edge, but briskly?

            I figure that it took me long enough to stop that only about an inch was missing from the bottom of the battery case, more or less. Further inspection revealed that the plates were, indeed, visible, the acid was gone and so were my lights.

            About fifteen minutes after Wally and I had decided that I probably wouldn’t be driving home that night, Bob showed up, the violet glow of the dash in the Jaguar quite visible as he pulled up alongside …

            Someday, maybe I’ll relate the tale of how the rear wheel on the Healy came off and passed me on the outside of the turn, I experienced a real letdown that afternoon.


  5. bmaz says:

    A little more on Whitacre’s direction:

    GM also announced the appointment of Selim Bingol, one of Mr Whitacre’s former colleagues at AT&T, as its global communications chief. Earlier this week it revamped its North American sales and marketing organisation for the second time in three months.

    Mr Whitacre has also brought in former AT&T colleagues to handle GM’s government relations in Washington.

    • DWBartoo says:

      It is alledged that he said, “Let there be darkness”.

      And it came to be so (often on dark and stormy nights).

      My vocabulary was greatly enhanced (mostly under my breath) and I learned how intrepid was my girlfriend, though she did accuse me of mumbling a lot when I barked my knuckles.

    • Jim White says:

      Heh. There was a time when I had practically memorized the wiring diagram on a 68 Spitfire I had for a few years. My long legs kept hitting the fuse box and…

  6. Teddy Partridge says:

    Wow, great post bmaz. I love reading your car stuff here.

    Can’t wait to read what Jean Jennings has to say about Lutz leaving. It does not bode well. I fear GM will start introducing cars the way phone companies bring out cell units now: no matter if the most recent one doesn’t sell, or even work very well, because another is on the way in six weeks.

    Phones and cars are profoundly different businesses. I don’t think anyone really gets that, anyone left at GM that is.

    I hope Bob Lutz enjoys his retirement. I doubt it will last long; looking forward to the next act. (Chrysler/FIAT could certainly use the help, hint-hint….)

  7. 300SDL says:

    So Lutz leaves GM—really, so what? This is the same guy that said global warming was “bullshit” and hybrid cars were a “hoax.” Brilliant move there, Nostradamus—how emblematic of GM’s severe myopia and fixation on short term shareholder return instead of the long term viability of the company. Who cares what the public thinks? We’ll build the gas guzzling, wasteful behemoths that WE think they need because they make us a lot of MONEY.

    Ford just surpassed GM in sales last month for the first time since 1960–it’s really time for GM to dump their insular and profit craving culture and do what Ford did—hire an outsider to revamp the company.

    I owned many GM products over the years and my favorite was the 59 Cadillac Fleetwood, the model of styling excess in a very different era when American innovation and style in the auto industry reigned supreme.

    Not any more.

    • bmaz says:

      Actually, Lutz was one of the people at GM most attuned to quality cars and long term viability and was the driving force behind the revamped and much higher quality across the board product line. And, quite frankly, GM will build and sell whatever the public buys; the American public are the ones too long fixated on big powerful cars.

      • 300SDL says:

        I certainly want to give credit to Lutz for what he did right–the Chevy Malibu and Cadillac for instance, however, the public deserted GM in droves to buy more fuel efficient cars from Toyota, Ford and others–which GM either did not offer or got to market too late. They righjtly recognized the fraudulant greenwashing of making the buslike GMC Yukon the “green vehicle of the year” by making it a hybrid–with a 3 MPG improvement to 19 MPG highway.

        I listened to him on NPR once and he was little more than a corporate cheerleader boasting about how great the “new” GM was–and how the public should take note of it. Sure Bob, they did —by buying from Honda, Ford, and Toyota. Having your marketing division put gold plating on the turd of your company doesn’t change anything and boastful hype is not a salable value proposition.

        Another example of their myopia is the Chevy Volt—which they hastily unshredded from the junkpile and rushed to get to market—just in time to have Honda rebrand their hybrid Insight at half the cost of a Volt with greater fuel efficiency.

        And does GM think they should be putting fuel efficient diesels in passenger cars ala Mercedes and BMW? Nope. Not one is planned for production even though they have them on the shelf. Instead we get the fuel sucking Duromax in pickup trucks so that you can pretend you are driving a Kenworth Class 8. Diesels get similar performance to gassers with about 25% better fuel efficiency and twice the service life–any drawback there? Don’t think so–as the Europeans have known for decades.

        As I said before, GM needs to dump their insular culture and wake up. They had 50% of the US market in the 1980’s so I know they know how to be successful. They just don’t have the will do to do that today.

        • bmaz says:

          Well, the relative cost of the Volt will come down as production is ramped up and the battery technology improves and becomes cheaper; all as it did on the Prius. Still, you are right, it is very pricy. That said, it is not comparable in the least to the Insight or Leaf; the Volt technology is an evolutionary step above and far superior to that of the Honda, Toyota or Nissan. And the rest of the Volt car will be too. Enough to warrant the far steeper price? That is probably tough, but it should close the gap enough to make it, hopefully, an “in” thing to do – as the Prius was early on. And there are the rebates too. The Volt will not be for everybody, certainly not at first, but it is a great technology and hopefully it will take hold. Absolutely critical that they get it right from the start, and have a solid car out of the gate though; this is one of the reasons Whitacre and his brand of short term corporatist thinking is such a concern.

          • 300SDL says:

            For GM’s sake I hope you are right, from a technological standpoint I agree it is not like to the Leaf or Insight. GM is simply going to have to find a way to get this technology into a cheaper platform in order to succeed and not have this go the way of the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham.

  8. orionATL says:

    earl of huntingdon @3

    you comment about gm brings to mind the experience of retailer sears,

    bought up by hyperrich capitalist (venture or hedge fund? i don’t know) edward lambert.

    initially the sale was said to be about real estate values of the sears stores.


    lambert, with no experience in department store sales, proceeded to “manage” sears and, subsequently, to create some problems, most specifically, as i recall, by slashing advertising and IT budgets.

    the “take-away” from the examples of sears and gm is that it is extraordinarily easy for some very wealthy and/or well-connected INDIVIDUALS to take over any american corporation.

    lambert bought sears/kmart for some billions.

    whiteacre was given gm by the obama admin.

    the nation’s “means of production” are, shall we say, fragile?
    or fungible?

    ok- can be had.

  9. prostratedragon says:

    And make no mistake, Lutz is in fine health and as active and ornery as ever; he is leaving because he is dissatisfied with what he sees happening under GM’s newfangled corporatist leadership.

    Wish there were more like him in other areas of American life.

  10. plunger says:

    EW…for your future use:

    From Black Swan on Mish’s blog:

    If you look at the TARP payouts from AIG, they match up almost perfectly with those big banks that donated $300 million each to keep LTCM afloat in 1998. In fact, right before the actual bailout, AIG, Goldman Sachs and Buffet offered to buy out the LTCM fund’s partners for $250 million, and offered to dump in an additional whopping $3.75 billion so that Goldman’s traders could operate the LTCM hedge fund. Who would have guessed at the time, that AIG would some day be on the other end of the bailouts? Ultimately, Bankers Trust, Barclays, Chase, Credit Suisse First Boston, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, J.P.Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Salomon Smith Barney and UBS kicked in $300 million each, and Société Générale kicked in an additional $1.25 million.

    To figure out why some banks recieved more than others from AIG, it helps to look at the consolidations. Bankers Trust (talk about an oxymoron) was swallowed up by Deutsche Bank. Chase was engulfed by JP Morgan which had already been sucked up by Chemical Bank (which took the JP Morgan name), Merrill Lynch was “purchased” by Bank of America and Salomon Smith Barney became the step child of Citigroup. Barkley’s, of course, dined on what was left of Lehman Brothers, which had donated $100 million to the LTCM bailout cause in 1998. This AIG reward money theory is my own. I’ve never read it anywhere, but I have read that Bear Stearns was allowed to fail because the IB refused to kick in a dime to save LTCM. I believe that if anybody really researched it, my AIG reward theory would hold up. It got me believing in the international banking conspiracy. If you don’t believe in the international banking conspiracy, it’s hard to explain why all those European banks were gifted with billions of US taxpayers dollars through the AIG bailout scam.

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    On a more down to earth note, condolences and cheers to all those who managed to keep their English sports car on the road, including sussing out how their 6-volt battery system worked.

    • DWBartoo says:

      I would once have considered what you say to be covering negative ground, EOH, possibly generating a charge of regulating the price of education to a mere trickle, or alternatively, that you have been “there” yourself, and are adjusting your points in such a way as to ensure smoother and quicker forward movement toward the day when spanner spinning is regarded as more than merely memorizing, “righty tighty, lefty loosey”, and learning that there are, in fact, such things as left-handed threads …


  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Actually, I’m just trying to sort out how two leather belts are supposed to keep my rear axle from flying off, and why I have to remove and reinstall a half dozen (momentarily still) working parts in order to get at, remove and replace the one that broke today. Not to mention wondering how the Morris Garage could confuse Swiss cheese with car sheet metal. But, nicely phrased. Punaise would like it.

    (As for “righty tighty, lefty loosey”, that sounds either like a Tory campaign slogan used against Michael Foote in the 1970’s, or a wishful description of co-eds that I once read on the door in the loo at LSE.)

  13. DWBartoo says:

    The leather straps?

    Oh yes, the “bump stops”.

    Have you ever imagined a conversation with one of the engineers(?) responsible(?) for the design(?) of certain things mechanical, (what do you mean I have to loosen the engine mounts and lift the engine “sufficiently” to replace the rear sparking plug? And what in hell is that wooden shim for, the one laying on the floor after we lifted the body off the frame? What do you mean when you say that lofting was used to transfer the dimensions to the body? Lofting is used in boat building, requiring an overhead beam and a string? What? And why oh why is the left side door of the car one-half of an inch shorter than the right side? Each car is “unique” and body parts from one car cannot be expected to fit another car, of exactly the same model and year, built six weeks apart? Fer crying out loud.

    Your “recollection” reminds me of several Ciffies, well more precisely, discussions held in certain circles, as to the virtues and pulchritude of those fair damsels we were regarding.

    High school was very educational at that time and place.

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