Automotive Innovators

cdbob

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This thread is decided to the people who made improvements to the automobile, or did something market wise that was brilliant.

So post the people you think deserve to be in this thread, along with a description of what they did. I will start with someone who is lesser known, but did great things, Lee Iacocca.
Career at Ford

Iacocca joined Ford Motor Company in 1946 and after a brief stint on engineering, he quickly asked to be moved to sales and marketing where his career flourished. While working in a local district for sales, Iacocca gained national recognition in 1956 with his "56 for 56" campaign, offering $56 monthly payment loans for 1956 model year cars. His campaign went national and Iacocca was called to Dearborn where he quickly moved through the ranks to become President of the Ford Division on his 40th birthday, October 15, 1964.

Iacocca was involved with the design of several successful Ford automobiles, most notably the Ford Mustang. Also, he was responsible for the Lincoln Continental Mark III, the Ford Fiesta and the revival of the Mercury brand in the late 1960s, including the introduction of the Mercury Cougar and Mercury Marquis. He was also the "moving force," as one court put it, behind the notorious Ford Pinto.[2] He promoted other ideas which did not reach the marketplace as Ford products. These included cars ultimately introduced by Chrysler- the K car and the minivan. Eventually, he became the president of the Ford Motor Company, but he clashed with Henry Ford II and ultimately, in 1978, he was fired by Henry II, despite Ford posting a $2 billion profit for the year.
Career at Chrysler

After being fired at Ford, Lee was aggressively courted by the Chrysler Corporation, which was on the verge of going out of business (at the time, the company was losing millions due to recalls of the Chrysler F platform vehicles, the Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volare). Iacocca joined Chrysler and began rebuilding the entire company from the ground up, laying off many workers, selling Chrysler's loss-making European division to Peugeot, and bringing in many former associates from his former company. Also from Ford, Iacocca brought to Chrysler the MiniMax project which turned into a very successful minivan. Interestingly, Henry Ford II wanted nothing to do with the MiniMax, making it a doomed project at Ford. Hal Sperlich, the driving force behind the MiniMax at Ford had been fired a few months before Iacocca and was waiting for him at Chrysler to make automotive history.

Iacocca started as Chrysler's Chairman, and began a heavy restructuring of Chrysler. At the time Iacocca took over, Chrysler was on the verge of bankruptcy, as it was focusing most of its money on large, fuel thirsty cars that the public didn't want due to a fuel crisis at the time. First, Iacocca announced plant closures, job layoffs, and his plans for the company. His next move was cutting several large models, which were heavily unprofitable, and put the subcompact Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon into production. The Omni and Horizon became instant hits, selling over 300,000 units each their debut year, showing what was to come for Chrysler - yet somewhat ironically the Omni and Horizon had been designed by the European division of the company which Iacocca had axed in 1978.

Realizing that the company would go out of business if it did not receive a significant amount of money to turn the company around, Iacocca approached the United States Congress in 1979 and asked for a loan guarantee. While it is sometimes said that Congress lent Chrysler the money, it, in fact, only guaranteed the loans. Most thought this was an unprecedented move, but Iacocca pointed to the government bail-outs of the airline and railroad industries, arguing that more jobs were at stake in Chrysler's possible demise. In the end, though the decision was controversial, Iacocca received the loan guarantee from the government.

After receiving this reprieve, Chrysler released the first of the K-Car line, the Dodge Aries and Plymouth Reliant in 1981, compact automobiles based on design proposals that Ford had rejected during Iacocca's tenure there. Coming right after the oil crisis of the 1970s, these small, efficient and inexpensive, front-wheel drive cars sold rapidly. In addition, two years later Chrysler released the minivan, based on a proposal of a key engineering executive Hal Sperlich who joined Chrysler after being dismissed by Ford; to this day, Chrysler leads the automobile industry in minivan sales[citation needed]. Because of these three cars, and the reforms Iacocca implemented, the company turned around quickly and was able to repay the government-backed loans seven years earlier than expected.

Iacocca was also responsible for Chrysler's acquisition of AMC in 1987, which brought the profitable Jeep division under Chrysler's corporate umbrella. It also created the short-lived Eagle division, formed from the remnants of AMC. By this time, AMC had already finished most of the work with the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which Iacocca desperately wanted. The Grand Cherokee would not be released until 1992 for the 1993 model year, at which time Iacocca left Chrysler.

Throughout the 1980s, Iacocca appeared in a raft of commercials for Dodge and Plymouth vehicles, using the ad campaign "The pride is back" to denote the turnaround of the corporation.
source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Iacocca
 
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Ottobon

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Colin Chapmans is a easy one, what with the monocoque and all

I would say John Kenton Britten counts even if he just did motorcycles. Thats a man whose motorcycles i think even a critical mind like Spectre could respect. :D

I would like to call Giuseppe Busso a innovator, but i think hes more of a artist. If it was music we were talking about then he didn't create a new genre, he just did it 10x better then anybody else ever has. <3 that man.


I think Hans Ledwinka absolutely counts though, even if it seems a bit cheap to take the credit for listing him just after Jay Leno made a video about one of his great cars.

Gordon Murray is a man i'd like to list, and i think he deserves it. I personally like to think of him more as a guy who did everything he could to put the best of the very best ideas in one package, like the Russians who made the T-34 tank in WWII. On the track though i think you could say hes a innovator, sadly i don't think any of his innovations have made it to production cars yet.
 
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Blind_Io

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Preston Tucker.
 

GerFix

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Nils Bohlin Inventor of the 3 point seat belt. Although he and Volvo owned the patent, they charged no royalties for it's use by other manufacturers. An innovator and philanthropist.
 

Meio

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Alec Issigonis, The Greek God of sticking together a load of ideas that have been used before, in a package that really works.
 

GerFix

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Kind of a no brainer Rudolph Diesel :p
Kind of off topic, but for some time I have considered that Diesel's name is the most visible name of anyone in the history of mankind. I'm sure there is no-one else whose name appears in brights lights as often as Diesel's ... think about all the petrol stations that display the price of Diesel on a big illuminated sign. Other words or names may appear more frequently, but none of them are referenced to a particular person as "Diesel" is.
 

prizrak

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Kind of off topic, but for some time I have considered that Diesel's name is the most visible name of anyone in the history of mankind. I'm sure there is no-one else whose name appears in brights lights as often as Diesel's ... think about all the petrol stations that display the price of Diesel on a big illuminated sign. Other words or names may appear more frequently, but none of them are referenced to a particular person as "Diesel" is.
Not to mention that his name is synonymous with power/strength to the point where there is a sport clothing company by that name and for a certain period of time when I was in HS buffed up/strong people were referred to as being Diesel.
 

Programme

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Paul Mages - father of the Citro?n hydraulic system, which once upon a time didn't just control the suspension, but the steering, gearbox and brakes as well. Prototypes did away with the conventional drivetrain completely, driving the wheels hydraulically, but this was apparently too expensive to go into production.
 

KaJuN

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MR42HH

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Rudolf Uhlenhaut! (1906-1989)

He was an engineer at Mercedes and responsible for the first post-war racers. One day in 1955 they were testing F1 racers at the N?rburgring. He had lunch with Fangio and discussed the setup of theis race car. Fangio complained about the setup. Then 49-year-old Uhlenhaut finished his lunch, jumped into the car, drove his first lap 3 seconds faster than Fangio and told him to just practice a bit more.

On a Mercedes event in the late 80s he showed off some precision driving (drifting a long wheelbase 600 through narrow corners, doing handbrake turns into parking spots in a gullwing SL) when he was nearly 80 years old.

If there ever was a bona fide petrolhead, Rudy was that guy.
 

FDaihatsu

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Carlos Ghosn - the unmistakeable saviour of Nissan.

Wikipedia said:
When he joined the company, it had debt of $20 billion and only three of its 48 models were generating a profit. [...] One year after he arrived, Nissan's net profit climbed to $2.7 billion from a loss of $6.1 billion in the previous year.
 

Censport

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Never mind, I see that businessmen qualify for this list as well as inventors and engineers.
 
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