A look back at 61 years of top stories

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Every year since 1953, reporters and editors at Automotive News have chosen the year's top auto story. Here are their picks.

2013: General Motors, as part of its biggest personnel shake-up since 1992, named product development chief Mary Barra to succeed Dan Akerson as CEO. Barra, an engineer and GM lifer who had spent much of her career working inside the company's plants, will become the first woman to run a major global carmaker.

2012: North America was the world's hottest auto market. And coupled with that sizzling demand was a new leanness - painfully achieved during the recession - that helped dealerships, automakers and suppliers to a very profitable year.

2011: On March 11, a massive earthquake rocked northeast Japan and a devastating tsunami followed. Thousands died, and Japan's auto industry was severely wounded, deep into the supply chain. Shortages of vehicles and parts disrupted the global auto market through the year. In the United States, vehicle shortages stifled a modest sales recovery that had been taking root.

2010: The industry began to claw its way back, but Toyota didn't share in the recovery. Allegations of unintended acceleration sparked a heated safety controversy, ugly headlines and global recalls of millions of units. Toyota's prime asset — a pristine reputation for quality — was seriously tarnished. The company lost U.S. market share, along with the trust of many shoppers.

2009: The industry slump went from bad to worse, and two of the Detroit 3 — GM and Chrysler — filed for Chapter 11 reorganization. The good news

2008: It was a tough year from start to finish, and it ended with GM and Chrysler on their knees before Congress begging for money to keep operating. Ford was in better shape, but it wanted a line of credit. They didn't get anything from Congress, but GM and Chrysler did get a $17.4 billion loan from President Bush and the Treasury Department.

2007: The Detroit 3 closed the gap in labor costs with their Japanese rivals. The car companies agreed to pay about 55 cents on the dollar to shift nearly $100 billion in combined retiree health care obligations to UAW-controlled trusts. The UAW also relented on two-tier wages that allow the Detroit 3 to replace workers earning $28 an hour with new hires earning half that wage.

2006: An awful year for Detroit 3. Ford loses $5.8 billion in third quarter; the Chrysler group, felled by sales bank, loses $1.5 billion; GM makes progress but is still light years from financial health. Detroit 3 lose 3.2 points of market share in 11 months; Japanese gain 2.2 points

2005: Delphi Corp., the world's largest auto supplier, files for bankruptcy protection. GM refuses to bail out Delphi, its former property; Delphi CEO Steve Miller wants to cut wages in half and reduce benefits; UAW threatens a killer strike that would cripple GM

2004: Rebates remain sky-high; sales continue near 17 million despite weak fundamentals; Asians boost market share; Big 3 and others try new incentives

2003: The Big 3 moved the iron with high incentives but lost market share again; Big 3 share fell to 60.0 percent, down 1.7 points from 2002

2002: Ford's financial and quality problems continue; a turnaround strategy, announced in January, includes a pledge to deliver $7 billion annual pretax profit by 2005 after losing $5.45 billion in 2001; Bill Ford brings back Allan Gilmour as CFO

2001: Ford fires Jac Nasser as CEO and president; Bill Ford (the fourth generation) succeeds Nasser as CEO and continues as chairman

2000: Chrysler in crisis

1999: Sales set a record

1998: Daimler-Benz and Chrysler Corp. combine as DaimlerChrysler AG, with Daimler as the lead pony; headquarters are in Stuttgart; Juergen Schrempp and Robert Eaton are said to be co-CEOs

1997: In less than a year, H. Wayne Huizenga's Republic Industries Inc. becomes the nation's largest new-car dealership group, with 270 franchises and annual revenue of $10.3 billion; acquisitions continue; Republic wins fight with Toyota

1996: Airbags kill kids and small adults; NHTSA delay means no action until 1997 on whether to order lower-powered bags or allow owners to disconnect them

1995: Kirk Kerkorian, Chrysler's second-largest shareholder, makes a takeover run at Chrysler in April, but Chairman Robert Eaton beats it down

1994: Sixteen former Honda managers and two former dealers are indicted in U.S. probe of bribes and kickbacks in wholesale organization; all but three plead guilty

1993: J. Ignacio Lopez quits GM and joins Volkswagen; GM says he stole secret documents; Lopez and VW deny it; FBI and German court investigate as year ends

1992: The bloodbath at GM

1991: Car and truck sales drop 12 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

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

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

1988: The sleeping giant stirs

1987: Chrysler buys AMC

1986: Turmoil at GM

1985: Big 3 on buying binge

1984: Record profits for each of the Big 3 as well as a record profit of $9.8 billion for the four domestic automakers

1983: A year of recovery for the domestic auto industry; sales and production rise after three bad years

1982: John DeLorean is arrested on drug-trafficking charges; he is later found not guilty; his sports car company folds

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

1980: GM, Ford, Chrysler, American Motors suffer combined loss of $4.2 billion for the year

1979: Chrysler's financial anguish

1978: The fall and rise of Lee Iacocca, who is fired by Henry Ford II as president of Ford Motor in mid-July, then becomes president of Chrysler in November

1977: Government orders airbags on new cars, to be phased in with 1982 models; industry fails in bid to have Congress override Department of Transportation decision

1976: Auto sales rebound after two poor years, reaching 9.96 million for 1976; intermediates and big cars are hot, but small cars are hard to sell

1975: U.S. automakers offer rebates of $200 to $500 to move huge inventories

1974: New-car sales (U.S. and import) fall to 8.6 million in 1974; 1975 model year is off to a dismal start

1973: The energy crisis

1972: Wankel engine advances

1971: President Nixon's economic program and its effect on the auto industry

1970: UAW strike shuts GM for 67 days in the United States, 95 days in Canada; the strike costs GM production of more than 1.5 million cars and trucks and more than $4.5 billion in sales

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

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

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

1966: Safety

1965: The Year of Records

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

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

1962: Future of the franchise system

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

1960: Chrysler's conflict-of-interest problems; a president is deposed, and other executives are affected

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

1958: Enactment of price-sticker law

1957: The rise in imported-car sales

1956: GM begins offering five-year franchise contracts, up from one year, in response to dealer complaints

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

1954: Reduction of "phantom-freight" charges

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

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