In Car Crazy, G. Wayne Miller, author of Toy Wars: The Epic Struggle Between G.I. Joe, Barbie, and the Companies That Make Them and Men and Speed: A Wild Ride Through NASCAR's Breakout Season, takes listeners back to the wild and wooly years of the early automobile era - from 1893, when the first US-built auto was introduced, through 1908, when General Motors was founded and Ford's Model T went on the market.
The motorcar was new, paved roads few, and devotees of this exciting and unregulated technology battled with citizens who thought the car a dangerous scourge of the wealthy that was shattering a more peaceful way of life. As the machine transformed American culture for better and worse, early corporate battles for survival and market share transformed the economic landscape. Among the pioneering competitors were: Ransom E. Olds, founder of Olds Motor Works, inventor of the assembly line (Henry Ford copied him), and creator of a new company called REO; Frederic L Smith, cutthroat businessman who became CEO of Olds Motor Works after Olds was ousted in a corporate power play; William C. "Billy" Durant of Buick Motor Company (who would soon create General Motors); and genius inventor Henry Ford.
The fiercest fight pitted Henry Ford against Frederic Smith of Olds. Olds was the early winner in the race for dominance, but now the Olds empire was in trouble, its once-industry leading market share shrinking, its cash dwindling. Ford was just revving up. But this was Ford's third attempt at a successful auto company - and if this one failed, quite possibly his last. So Smith fought Ford with the weapons he knew best: lawyers, blackmail, intimidation, and a vicious advertising smear campaign that ultimately backfired. Increasingly desperate, in need of dazzling PR that would help lure customers to his showrooms, Smith staged the most outrageous stunt of the era.
©2015 G. Wayne Miller (P)2015 Gildan Media LLC