Former dealer Nat Shulman gets this magazine's last word because his column appears on the last page.
This month he uses that forum to take exception to the notion that Henry Ford is the automotive person of the century.
It's a provocative column, noting that Mr. Ford, while indeed an automotive pioneer, had some deep character flaws.
But what's ironic to look at, too, are the lives of Henry Ford's descendants, starting with his son, Edsel, who was a gentleman, a patron of the arts and a hard worker for Ford Motor Co.
Edsel fathered an impressive generation of Fords. That includes Henry II, who saved the company, and William Clay Ford, who is still active in Detroit these days and who just gave $25 million to the Henry Ford Museum to honor his grandparents.
The next generation includes William Clay Ford Jr., who is now chairman of the company, and Edsel II, Henry II's son, who held various company posts and is now an ombudsman of sorts.
Unlike the Dodge brothers' offspring, whose main accomplishment was being able, while drunk, to stay atop a polo pony, the Ford descendants are known for their generosity and work ethic.
O.K., let's have some fun in Chicago "Nobody said you can't have any fun in this business," General Motors President Richard Wagoner says at the Chicago Auto Show media preview.
Some funny things occurred during press conferences and such.
Here's a sampling.
Will the real Rick Wagoner please stand up? GM tracked down two Rick Wagoners - other than GM's Rick Wagoner - and featured them in a video for the new Buick Rendezvous, an upcoming SUV.
The Rick Wagoners featured on the lifestyle video are active fellows with multiple interests. Those are the types of people to whom GM plans to pitch the Rendezvous.
When the vehicle was driven on stage for the unveiling, inside were three Rick Wagoners, those two guys and GM's guy.
A chicken in every garage? Hey, anybody can say the wrong thing. Just ask Don Esmond, general manager of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. Inc.'s Toyota Division.
Talking about a future roadster, he unwittingly called it a two-seater "roaster."
Talking about vehicle "owners," he called them "moaners."
Macho, macho man Jerry Hirshberg, Nissan North America Inc.'s design guru got graphic describing how his team tried to make the 2001 Frontier pickup truck look more, well, manly.
He said the current Frontier performs well but "wasn't ballsy enough."
Mr. Hirshberg then introduced a female designer, Diane Allen, to point out the new truck's attributes.
Nissan PR Vice President Jason Vines wrapped things up, saying, "I'd like to thank Jerry Hirshberg for the anatomy lesson."
Gonna fly now A pigeon flew through an open door of the McCormick Center, and buzzed Daewoo Motor America marketing vice president Bill Tucker as he presented the new Lanos car. The bird then soared off, last seen heading towards the Ford exhibit.
Ad-libbing, Mr. Tucker said, "Perhaps a pigeon flying over your press conference is good luck."
Journalist Aaron Robinson had another interpretation.
"Maybe Lanos means 'pigeon' in Korean," he said.
Thank you ladies and germs You can hear plenty of bad jokes during open-mike nights at comedy clubs.
You can also hear some groaners at Kia Motors America Inc. press conferences - if Richard S. Macedo is at the microphone.
In Chicago, he told one bad joke after another at the introduction of Kia's new entry-level Rio. (Sample: "I tried to get them to name this the 'Macedo' because I'd like to see my name on the back of a car.")
When nobody laughed, he did what every bombing comedian does - blame the audience.
"Whoa, what's with you people? What a somber crowd...Didn't you get enough sleep last night?"
Say goodnight, Dick.
Puff Daddy O'Connor How many watts does it take to blow open a special Sony edition Ford Focus?
Oh, about 460. That's how many watts power the car's explosive 13-speaker stereo system. Earplugs should be standard equipment.
"I'm a fellow with grey hair, but we've been letting our hair down and having fun with the vehicle," Ford Division President James O'Connor says of the Sony edition Focus.
He adds, "Youth of America, get ready because this is going to blow your doors off."
Clockwork Orange Subaru of America Inc.'s design team member Brenda Robert is the oracle of orange.
That's the color of the STX concept vehicle. It's part pickup truck, part sedan and part blinding because of its bright hue.
Ms. Robert says, "If there is a color that represents the new millennium, it's orange. It's really an optimistic color."
Orange is the color of the new millennium? If so, color me blue.
Steve Finlay is editor of Ward's Dealer Business. His e-mail address is: [email protected]