I’ve heard that General Motors’ new theme song is “Help, help me Honda.” But joking aside, I have not had a lot of faith in the car company that made the first brand I collected (Pontiac) for well over 15 years. In fact, I think that the automaker’s big slide started when Robert C. Stempel was forced to retire as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of GM in November 1992, less than two years after he was named Chairman and CEO.
Bob Stempel was an engineer and he contributed a lot to the first Oldsmobile Tornado, a truly historic vehicle. I met him at a Pontiac Oakland Club Meet in 1979. At the time I was editor of the club’s montrhly magazine.
When I became a professional automotive writer, I ran into “Bob” Stempel at the Chicago Automobile Show. To my surprise, he remembered my name and how we had met back in 1979. And each time I saw him after that, he had a big hello for me. I have met other big auto executives since then, but i have never met one that I liked as much as Bob Stempel. He was a real car guy. And the day GM let him go, I knew they were starting down the wrong road. Now, i guess they have traveled pretty far in the wrong direction.