Perhaps no other superior was tougher on Lutz than Red Poling, a by-the-numbers commander who later also rose to become Ford’s CEO.

Lutz first came under Poling’s exacting financial dictates while heading Ford of Germany, and Poling served as chief financial officer of the newly formed Ford of Europe, a move that stripped the German subsidiary of its relative autonomy.

Lutz, who resented Poling’s “micromanaging,” writes they often remained at loggerheads until after Lutz departed for Chrysler in 1986. No longer on the same payroll, they eventually warmed to each other.

“Red Poling knew, intimately and by hands-on experience, how the car business runs. Somewhat unfortunately, though, he saw it as a hugely complex set of numbers and line-item budget elements,” Lutz writes.

Early on in their relationship, he says he hated working for Poling. But Lutz’s opinion changed when the boss insisted on a tight budget for a major vehicle program that ultimately proved a hit.

“Red taught me that tough, uncompromising, unfeeling, almost nasty approach to initial cost and investments could produce meaningful savings.”

Bob Eaton, an affable GM engineer who’d worked his way up to head GM-Europe, was his next boss.

Perhaps surprisingly, the two men got along well, with Lutz staying on as president and the driving force behind a string of marketplace winners.

Lutz turned 66 and retired before the Daimler takeover, but Eaton initially stayed on briefly before exiting and retired to Naples, FL, where he still lives. He has been roundly vilified for selling out Chrysler.

Not so fast, Lutz writes. “He ran a great company, made it a desirable partner, and merged it into a larger company, in the process creating enormous wealth for Chrysler’s shareholders,” notwithstanding a giant windfall for himself.

Still, Lutz remains loyal to Eaton. “Bob Eaton has had his reputation unfairly tarnished. He was tagged a pathetic loser. By the important metrics on the scorecard, he was a winner.”

Lutz next joined Exide and offers a lucid portrait of the widespread corruption extant prior to his arrival and his efforts to clean up the mess.

Then came a call from Rick Wagoner, GM’s chairman and CEO, who was looking for a “car guy” to inject new life into GM’s moribund product line.

Lutz came onboard in September 2001 as vice chairman-global product development and soon solidified its engineering and design groups and revamped its car and truck offerings.

Although Lutz faults Wagoner for often being too loyal to executives with whom he grew up and his heavy emphasis on “process” as opposed to Lutz’s “gut” instincts, he thinks Wagoner was unfairly ousted just when GM was gaining traction. He blames the 2008 recession triggered by Wall Street’s collapse, which sent car sales reeling, for GM’s financial straits and ultimately Wagoner’s undoing.

“Rick demonstrated many of the qualities of the ideal CEO,” says Lutz. “He was honest, unflappable, fair and possessed of remarkable intelligence…devoid of bluster, autocracy and punitive behavior.”

In the end, “Rick was simply too nice, too introspective and thoughtful in many of his actions to see the company through the turbulence of 2008-’09. I hated to see him go.”