Chrysler’s near-death experience in 1980 had a salutary effect on the company’s culture. Headcount was slashed by over 50 percent. By necessity, the old ways of doing business were consigned to the crusher. “New Chrysler’s” execs, managers, marketers, designers, engineers, union workers and suppliers all had to work together to find creative ways of doing more with less. With Lee Iaccoca at the helm, it was a seminal moment in Chrysler’s history: an opportunity for the once great American car company to thoroughly reinvent itself. Necessity was the mother of all platform sharing. Introduced in ’81, Chrysler’s “K” cars offered seemingly endless variations on the same mechanical theme: Plymouth Reliant, Dodge Aires, 400 and 600; Chrysler LeBaron, Town and Country and Executive; and on and on and on. By the time the K stopped being special, Chrysler had produced nearly 40 variants.It worked. With lowered overheads, interchangeable parts and Iacocca’s salesmanship, Chrysler was soon back in black. After paying back Uncle Sam, Chrysler’s accumulating cash cache began to take its toll, allowing the automaker to slip back into kicking back. Even worse, the money burned a hole in Lido’s pocket. A suicidal spending spree ensued.Like other successful CEOs, Iaccoca coveted a Gulfstream… Read full this story
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