Many Ford executives believed Lutz's former boss Red Poling shunted him into the position, settling a score after the two had clashed in Europe. No sooner was Lutz in the job than he began looking for a ticket out of Ford, which would take him to Chrysler and Jeep. Yet in his year at Ford truck, he helped unleash the light-truck revolution in America.
Lutz once described his year with the Explorer.
"We didn't call it the Explorer then, we called it the four-door Bronco II. Originally it was just going to be the Bronco II we all remember -- narrow and high, but with an extended wheelbase and two more doors, and it looked like it was born in a hallway. It was really this long, tall thin thing. I said, "Look guys, ... if we're going to make this thing work, we've got to have a wider vehicle with more track width, and it's got to be demonstrably bigger than the Cherokee.'
"Everybody was panicking because the Cherokee was taking off and starting to sell really well, and there was this intense desire to have a four-door sport-utility because that was the hot thing. I said, "Let's really take our time on this; we have $400 million to spend.' That was all there was in the investment envelope, and I just had them work and work and work and work until we were able to get this largely unique vehicle. It carried over a lot of parts, but it was a wider vehicle than the Bronco II, and it did have the all-new front end, all-new styling. It wasn't called Explorer at that time but it was the Explorer."
Lutz added: "When we had that full-size clay model ... it annihilated the Cherokee in research, so we knew that if we did the vehicle it was going be a home run. It was exactly the size that people wanted. Exactly."