* What's the first thing one asks GM's new marketing guru Ronald L. Zarrella other than "Why did you take this job?" or "Why in hell did you take this job?" as he puts it. We found out at the North American International Auto show. it's "what kind of car do you drive?" A Blazer, he says. Mr. Zarrella was negotiating to buy the SUV in June when GM approached him. He was driving a Volvo 850 then. Asked if he got a better deal after taking his new job, he jokes: "You wouldn't believe the deal I got." He says he took the job partially because the auto industry is so huge, but beyond that "With the changes coming at GM, I feel comfortable that I'm going to participate in the greatest turnaround in American business history. I came in with many pre-conceived notions, and many of them turned out wrong."

* Chrysler Corp.'s Cirrus took top honors as the North American Car of the Year Awards. The Ford Contour took second and the Olds Aurora third. Chevy Blazer was named the best truck; Ford Motor Co.'s Explorer came in second.

* Chevrolet chief Jim C. Perkins says the GM division will sell 2.7 million vehicles in 1995, and vows it will hit 3 million by 1997. That breaks out to 1.2 million cars and 1.5 million trucks in 1995. GMC plans to sell 500,000 trucks this year. Roy S. Roberts, who heads GMC, has his sights set on becoming the second biggest division at GM by '97, but says he'll have to sell 700,000 trucks to do it. GMC sold 441,093 vehicles in 1994 and would have to oust Pontiac, which sold 621,184 vehicles in 1994, for second place.

* Chevy and GMC think they have the full-size 4-door truck to themselves for 19 months, but Ford reportedly is only 6 months behind with a 4-door full-size Bronco to compete against Tahoe/Yukon. Chrysler has a product called Adventurer (off the big Ram) that also could compete, but it has been mum about plans.

* Tom Gale, Chrysler Corp. vice president, design-international, says the Atlantic concept car came from a sketch by company President Robert A. Lutz. A clump of independent coachbuilders that toiled around Paris in the '30s were the inspiration for the long-nosed coupe. These cars, called "capeaus," used straight-8 engines. Francois Castaing, vice president-vehicle engineering, had no straight 8, so he simply welded two Neon twin-cam 4-banger blocks together and added a long crankshaft and a few other pieces. Presto, he gets a 4L inline 8 producing 260 ft. lbs. of torque and between 280 and 300 hP.

* Ford's Lincoln-Mercury Div. is looking at a possible SUV. "We're watching it closely, looking very hard. We see some potential there," says L-M General Manager Keith C. Magee.