The cover of the fall 1972 issue of the The Saturday Evening Post featured a smiling President Richard Nixon, who was battling for his political life after the Watergate scandal.
Inside was a lengthy interview with a young associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan named Dave Cole explaining how the Wankel rotary engine worked.
That national magazine story about a new and promising automotive technology turbocharged Cole's reputation and with it the Traverse City Management Briefing Seminars he was so instrumental in promoting.
The Management Briefing Seminars launched 50 years ago in the basement of the Park Place Hotel in downtown Traverse City. The conference would evolve from a cozy gathering of academics and industry types into the auto industry equivalent of Davos: a neutral forum where those in the industry could meet and talk about the thorny issues and the technology challenges they faced.
"The Wankel was kind of the start," says Cole, who would go on to become an influential auto industry analyst and a trusted adviser to the industry's elite. Now chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research, he has since given about 1,500 speeches around the world.
"Dave's brilliant career got started because of a failed engine," laughs Brett Smith, program director of industry analysis and community activities for Ann Arbor, Mich.-based CAR, which now runs the seminars.