At a July 18 ceremony in Detroit, newly inducted Automotive Hall of Famers Sergio Marchionne and Richard E. Dauch were remembered, while Pat Ryan and Janet Guthrie reminisced. Snapshots of the inductees:
2019 Automotive Hall of Fame: Class of the titans
He saved Fiat, then Chrysler. Five words are enough to explain Sergio Marchionne's Hall of Fame induction less than a year after his untimely death in July 2018. The Italy-born, Canada-educated accountant had no auto experience when he took control of the faltering Italian automaker in 2004.
Five years later, the U.S. auto task force chose to put Chrysler under Marchionne's command rather than liquidate. He would spin off Ram from Dodge, put Jeep on a global path, establish Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and try to convince his industry peers that consolidation was the answer to the expanding, unsustainable capital demands of a changing auto industry.
He died at age 66, just months before his planned retirement.
Richard E. Dauch was a likely Hall of Famer when he first retired in 1991. Earlier, at General Motors, the former Purdue fullback had been Chevrolet's youngest plant manager. He would later head manufacturing for Volkswagen's first U.S. plant, in Pennsylvania. He then joined CEO Lee Iacocca to help guide Chrysler's comeback in the 1980s. But after his "retirement," Dauch went on to turn five discarded GM parts plants into a supplier powerhouse, American Axle & Manufacturing.
"Dick was practicing lean manufacturing and leading the quality revolution years before those terms became part of the business conversation," Iacocca said after Dauch's death in 2013, at the age of 71. "He put his heart and soul into the American auto industry."
I'd like to think of myself as a damn good race driver on the track and as a lady off it," Janet Guthrie told The New York Times in 1978. The previous year, when she turned 39, she made history as the first woman to compete in the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500.
The University of Michigan graduate had abandoned a career as a physicist to devote herself to racing. She competed in 11 IndyCar events (top finish, fifth) and 33 NASCAR races (top finish, sixth).
Among her other honors: memberships in the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame as well as a helmet and driver's suit enshrined in the Smithsonian Institution.
In founding the first finance and insurance office in 1962, Pat Ryan fundamentally changed how car dealerships operate. At Dick Fencl Chevrolet in suburban Chicago, Ryan created a process in which a designated dealership employee sold credit life insurance to customers. He then brought F&I departments to surrounding dealerships by hiring his own employees.
In 1964, he founded Pat Ryan & Associates, an underwriting agency specializing in distributing those products to auto retailers. Ryan also established a training program to funnel agents into the F&I departments he created.
His company evolved to became Aon Corp., a global insurance and reinsurance brokerage firm. Ryan retired as CEO of Aon in 2005.
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