During his 17 year career at General Motors, John De
Lorean was one of the automotive industry's most
controversial figures, and also one of it's most talented
and successful executives. So his resignation from GM in
April, 1973 shocked the business community. When word
leaked out that he was writing a book about life at
General Motors, with journalist J. Patrick Wright, GM
and the auto industry anxiously awaited it's arrival.
But in a jolting new move, De Lorean
refused to let the
book be published saying he feared the reprisals from
GM would sink his attempts to launch a new car com-
pany. He continued to block publication of On A Clear
Day You Can See General Motors for four years.
Now in an unprecedented move this edition is
published without the cooperation of John De Lorean,
General Motors, or the original publisher.
of his critical position in top
management, De Lorean's disclosures of the inside
workings of General Motors are nothing short of
shocking. His highly critical assessment will blow the lid
off some of Detroit's most closely held secrets such as
- Horrendous product decisions - The ill-fated
Corvair's questionable safety was well documented and
debated inside GM long before its introduction.
- Sinister business practices - GM executives were
regularly dunned for substantial and possible illegal
political campaign contributions.
- Serious management blunders - hundreds of
millions of dollars were wasted annually in capricious
executive decisions which would have ruined smaller
companies, but were easily absorbed by GM's vast
John De Lorean's story is more than an
however. It is a personal account of one modern
executive's struggle with big business management.
As the antithesis of the traditional, stodgy,
GM executive, De Lorean operated with flare and
panache. He openly criticized his company and his
industry when he felt they deserved it. He avoided the
corporate social scene in favor of a cadre of friends that
included professional athletes and movie stars. And he
dated models and actresses who were often younger than
the daughters of his fellow executives.
While his life style chafed his superiors,
ceptional talents as an engineer and a crack executive,
produced business success after success, and filled GM's,
(Continued on back
with profit. By age 47, his meteoric rise had
placed De Lorean in a key management post, earning
over half-a-million dollars a year, with an even-odds
chance of becoming president of the industrial giant.
But life at the top was a disappointment. De
found his job on executive row to be boring. Moreover,
he began to question GM's management system which
he felt often promoted mediocrity, sometimes produced
illegal and immoral business practices, and stressed
personal loyalties to the detriment of the corporation.
His efforts to push for change from within were fruitless.
To these frustrations was added the startling
revelation that resentments inside GM had been formed
into a campaign to destroy him. So he quit.
It is, therefore, from the privileged
perspective of an
ex-GM executive, that De Lorean reveals General Motors
to be something quite different than a well-run
precisely managed corporation that is its public image
At a time when Americans are demanding more
reliability from American business, On A Clear Day You
Can See General Motors demonstrates how one cor-
porate leviathan grew less accountable to its many
publics amid booming sales and dwindling competition.
And it is this disclosure that makes this book an im-
portant document for citizens, politicians and busi-
Patrick Wright, age 38, had covered the automotive
industry for 13 years primarily from the outpost of
Detroit Bureau Chief for Business Week Magazine. He
has twice won the Detroit Press Club award for
distinguished business reporting, and has also written
for the Atlantic Monthly, The Los Angeles Times, The
Washington Post, and numerous business publications.
Wright left Business Week in 1978 to publish this book.
He currently is a free lance writer, and working on two