General Takes Jabs at Detroit Auto Show

You know it's January in Detroit when the snowplows start turning the freeways into minefields, when Lions fans are singing the Super Bowl blues and when the Big Three auto makers are taking shots at each other at the North American International Auto Show.

This year, one juicy bit of gossip had General Motors Corp. recruiting Ford Motor Co. Chief of Design J Mays to take over the top design post. Mays would, or so the rumors went, replace current Design Chief Wayne Cherry, who is nearing mandatory retirement age.

When asked about it on the floor of the Detroit auto show, Mays brushes it off bluntly. “I'm staying here. I'm happy,” he tells us.

He also passes on an opportunity to take a swipe at GM's Bel Air convertible concept, criticized by some as a rip-off of his new Ford Thunderbird. “I'll let you be the judge,” Mays says. “I think it speaks for itself.”

The Chrysler Group also was taking shots at the General. At the unveiling of the Chrysler Pacifica tall wagon (see cover), Jim Schroer, Chrysler's executive vice president-global sales and marketing, played the part of “packaging guy” in an on-stage skit.

Schroer tells a couple he has to get going because “I got a huge truckload of cladding I have to deliver down to the Renaissance Center.”

He was referring, of course, to the excessive cladding on last year's Pontiac Aztek. It has been drastically scaled back for this year's model. Last year, a Chrysler unveiling included a skit in which a traffic cop threatened that wrongdoers would have to do time in an Aztek.