1. Let's start with Chrysler Chairman Bob Eaton. He was GM blue all the way when Lee Iacocca in 1991 bypassed his obvious successor, then-President Bob Lutz, and recruited Mr. Eaton from GM, where he headed International Operations.

What if GM had managed to keep him in the fold? Without his low-key, but very product-oriented, leadership Chrysler may not have been the prize Daimler-Benz AG was looking for.

2. What if Mr. Iacocca were still running Chrysler? No chance he'd agree to a merger where the Germans come out on top.

3. What if, in the '60s, Roy D. Chapin Jr., then chairman of American Motors Corp., hadn't spearheaded acquisition of then-ailing Jeep from Kaiser Corp., modernizing the mighty little warhorse and expanding its model lineup when everyone else passed? Chrysler acquired AMC in 1987 from France's Renault.

Mr. Iacocca got Jeep in the bargain, put Chrysler engineers to work making it better, added the Grand Cherokee and it was off to the SUV races.

4. What if, by the way, Mr. Iacocca hadn't pulled off the AMC deal, extremely controversial inside Chrysler at the time, at all? Besides Jeep he got some fine AMC talent, including Francois Castaing (via Renault), who deservedly gets major credit for developing the all-new line of cars and trucks that have paced the company's surging success in recent years?

5. What if the U.S. government had refused to loan Chrysler more than $1 billion starting in 1979 to keep it afloat, the largest government-sponsored bailout in history? The loan was repaid in full long before it was due thanks to a resurging economy and Mr. Iacocca's amazing salesmanship.

6. What if the late Henry Ford II, then chairman of the Ford Motor Co., hadn't fired Mr. Iacocca 20 years ago, a move that sent him post-haste to Chrysler where he not only pulled off the big loan, but literally rebuilt the company?

7. What if Ford had managed to keep Bob Lutz on board? Mr. Lutz was a rising star as chairman of Ford of Europe, only to be plucked back in the '80s to the lesser job of heading Truck Operations. Mr. Lutz shortly thereafter departed for Chrysler.

8. What if Dennis Pawley, Chrysler's manufacturing chief, had remained at GM, where he headed the Pontiac Fiero project, or at the Mazda Motors of America's Flat Rock, MI, assembly plant he managed? He's a chief architect of Chrysler's low-cost strategy and therefore a hot commodity for Daimler-Benz.

9. What if Daimler-Benz Chairman Juergen Schrempp hadn't spent a few years in Cleveland heading D-B's Euclid Div. (which, incidentally, was once a GM operation)? Mr. Schrempp got a taste of U.S. capitalism and culture on the job, which he credits with expanding his vision beyond D-B's straight-laced culture.

We could go on, but why not send us your own list? You can fax us at (248) 357-0811 or e-mail it to us at wards@wardsauto.com.