It used to work like this: When you worked for an auto company and progressed up the ladder, you stayed there. Maybe for 30 years, maybe longer.
And if you rose as high as Semon "Bunkie" Knudsen - an executive vice president at General Motors - the thought of leaving would be absurd.
But Knudsen wasn't typical - and he was angry.
He had been passed over for the GM presidency in 1967, when the board chose Ed Cole instead.
Henry Ford II soothed his ravaged ego and persuaded Knudsen to become president of Ford Motor Co. in February 1968 - a development that set the auto world on its ear.
But Ford Motor did things differently from GM, and a number of Ford insiders, notably Lee Iacocca, weren't keen on the interloper who had risen above them.
In September 1969, 19 months after Henry Ford II hired Bunkie, he fired him.
Ford walked into Bunkie's office and said, "Things did not work out as I had hoped."
All Bunkie could say was, "I'm shocked."
Ford said, "I imagine you would be."
And that was that.
In 1971, Bunkie landed on his feet, as chairman of truckmaker White Motor Corp.
But it wasn't the Big 3. And it wasn't the big-time job he had in mind.
For the rest of the story, read Automotive News' Ford 100 commemorative edition on June 16. For information about the special issue, visit www.autonews.com/ford100/.