DETROIT – It took Edward T. Welburn 42 years to become GM’s chief of design. Why so long? He started lobbying for the job when he was 11 years old. “It’s a corny story, but its true,” says Welburn, 53. At an age when most kids are fantasizing about being an astronaut or sports star, he was writing GM saying he wanted to design cars. He didn’t officially start work at GM until about 11 years later, after he graduated from the College of Fine Arts at Howard University in Washington. But ...

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