FUNNY HOW TIME FLIES TOP STORIES FROM YEARS PAST

Following is a list of winners of the Stories of the Year designation since Automotive News inaugurated this feature in 1953:

1953: Fire destroys General Motors Hydra-matic plant in Livonia, Mich.

1954: Reduction of 'phantom-freight' charges.

1955: (tie) Senate hearings on auto trade practices. Attainment of supplemental unemployment compensation by the UAW.

1956: GM's five-year dealer franchise.

1957: The rise in imported-car sales.

1958: Enactment of the price-sticker law.

1959: Compact cars introduced by Ford Motor Co., GM and Chrysler Corp.

1960: Chrysler's conflict-of-interest problems.

1961: Antitrust actions filed against the Big 3. GM accused in Los Angeles discount-house rhubarb; Ford's acquisition of Electric Autolite properties questioned; Chrysler charged with pressuring dealers not to dual with Studebaker.

1962: Future of the franchise system: Los Angeles antitrust suit against GM viewed as threat to franchise.

1963: GM wins criminal antitrust suit growing out of Los Angeles discount-house situation.

1964: Record truck sales and the first 8 million car year.

1965: 'The Year of Records: ' All-time highs in sales and production of domestic cars and trucks.

1966: Safety: Congress holds hearings; bills are passed; Dr. William Haddon appointed safety czar; proposed standards for 1968 models announced.

1967: Labor: 61-day strike costs Ford Motor 500,000 cars; Big 3 workers get raise of about $1 an hour in wages and fringes over three years.

1968: Semon Knudsen named president of Ford Motor a week after he quit as executive vice president of GM.

1969: Semon Knudsen fired as president of Ford Motor after holding the job for 19 months.

1970: UAW strike shuts GM for 67 days in United States, 95 days in Canada. Costs GM more than 1.5 million cars and trucks (production), more than $4.5 billion in sales.

1971: President Nixon's economic program and its effect on the auto industry. Prices and wages frozen; import duty hiked temporarily; currency revalued; excise tax repealed. Program touches off auto sales boom.

1972: Wankel engine advances. GM plans to offer Wankel-powered Chevrolet Vega in 1975 model year. Other makers watch and wait. Mazda, only Wankel-powered car in United States, has big year.

1973: The energy crisis: Becomes a major problem late in year. Arabs halt oil exports to United States. Gas rationing feared, or maybe federal tax of 40 to 50 cents a gallon. Uncertainty of situation hurts auto industry and entire U.S. economy.

1974: The year-long sales slump: New-car sales (U.S. and import) fall to 8.7 million in 1974. The 1975 model year is off to a dismal start with high prices a big factor.

1975: U.S. makers pay cash rebates of $200 to $500 to customers to move huge inventories, mostly small cars. Chrysler started the program.

1976: Auto sales rebound after two poor years, reach 10 million for 1976. Major turnaround in marketplace - intermediates and big cars are hot; small cars, especially subcompacts, are hard to sell.

1977: Federal government orders airbags on new cars, to be phased in starting with 1982 models. Industry, others fail in bid to have Congress override Department of Transportation decision.

1978: The fall and rise of Lee Iacocca. Fired by Henry Ford II as president of Ford Motor in mid-July, he becomes president of Chrysler in November.

1979: Chrysler's financial anguish; federal loan guarantees sought; future of company in doubt.

1980: GM, Ford, Chrysler and American Motors suffer combined loss of $4.2 billion for the year. Even GM is in the red.

1981: Another year of recession/depression for the domestic auto industry.

1982: The DeLorean Saga: John DeLorean arrested on drug-trafficking charges; he was later found innocent. His sports-car company folds.

1983: A year of recovery for the domestic automotive industry. Sales and production both rise after three bad years.

1984: Record profits for each of the Big*3 and a record profit of $9.8 billion for the four domestic automakers.

1985: Big 3 on buying binge. GM, Ford and Chrysler make acquisitions outside the automotive field. Biggest is GM's $5*billion purchase of Hughes Aircraft.

1986: A time of turmoil at GM: Market share dips; plants to close; Saturn scaled back; plastic-bodied Camaro-Firebird dropped; bus operations for sale; Volvo to run heavy-truck venture; company has third-quarter operating loss of $338 million.

1987: Chrysler buys AMC.

1988: The sleeping giant stirs: GM's profits rise; car-market share stabilizes; new models not look-alikes; quality improves; overseas operations in high gear.

1989: After eight quiet years, Washington again becomes a major thorn in the side of the auto industry. President Bush and Congress talk about tighter emissions rules, much higher fuel-economy standards and alternative-fuel cars.

1990: GM's Saturn arrives after seven years of development. Car gets good reviews, pleases shoppers and dealers. But production problems hold output to a trickle, delaying evaluation of Saturn's sales success.

1991: The agony of the industry: Car-truck sales drop 11 percent from a mediocre 1990. GM, Ford and Chrysler deep in red. End of Persian Gulf war fails to ignite sales. GM announces massive cost-cutting program and cutbacks in personnel and facilities as year ends.

1992: The bloodbath at GM: Long-passive outside directors rise in revolt as staggering losses continue. Chairman, vice chairman, president and two executive vice presidents ousted. Jack Smith named chief executive; John Smale is first outside chairman since 1937.

1993: The adventures of J. Ignacio Lopez: He quits GM and joins Volkswagen. GM charges he stole secret documents; Lopez and VW deny it. FBI and German court investigating as year ends.

1994: The Honda scandal: 16 ex-managers and two ex-dealers indicted in U.S. probe of bribes and kickbacks in wholesale organization. All but three plead guilty.

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