Like many automotive supplier CEOs, John Doddridge is used to taking a pounding - but he has his limits. Doddridge was on a road show selling bonds for his Intermet Corp., a maker of cast metal parts, when an analyst asked about his retirement plans. Doddridge, who turns 62 in September, quipped that he was 6 feet 7 inches tall when he began his auto industry career, at Dana Corp. in 1964. "Now I'm 5 foot 10 inches. When I get to 5 foot 6 inches, it's all over."
QUICK CANYON CREATION - GMC is getting the Canyon pickup in late 2003, but it bears little resemblance to the radical-looking GMC concepts of recent years such as the Terradyne and this year's Terra4. So has GM abandoned the edgy design direction for GMC? No, says GM. A spokesman says GMCs will display elements of the "Terra" vehicles. The Canyon's lack of such cues reflects the hurry-up nature of its creation after complaints by dealers who were angry not to be getting a small pickup to replace the Sonoma. One dealer says the loudest complaints came from dealers who do a lot of fleet business, adding that Canyon sales will tilt heavily toward fleets. GMC would not comment on that point.
JEWEL-STUDDED 50th - To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Mattel Inc.'s Matchbox unit is auctioning an 18-carat white and yellow gold miniature fire engine on the Sotheby's and eBay Web sites. The fire engine, only 3¼ inches long, is encrusted with rubies, sapphires and diamonds and has an appraised value of $50,800. Proceeds will go to Ronald McDonald House. Since 1952, Matchbox has sold 3 billion cars representing more than 12,000 models. The top seller? The Model A Ford.
BLAST FROM THE PAST? Is General Motors' recent rush of products - including the imminent return of the Pontiac GTO name - generating enough ruckus to awaken the dead? Ted Robertson, GM's chief engineer for mid-sized trucks, was asked by a reporter last week about lingering whispers that GM is planning to bring back the Chevrolet El Camino, which was last built in 1987. "That's just a rumor," Robertson said - before tossing another quart of fuel to the fire by adding: "But it may happen."