Herbert Demel: Chief of Magna Steyr

His parents hoped a summer doing lube jobs would cure his love of cars

Herbert Demel wistfully recalls his first car--a slate-gray Alfa Sud that got him obsessed with engines and racing. His parents tried to break the spell by dispatching him to a race track outside Vienna to do lube jobs for three months. The move backfired. "I loved it," says Demel, 48. Today he doesn't just mess around with cars. He's about to transform how they are made.

This month Demel takes over as head of Magna Steyr (2001 sales: $1.5 billion), the Graz-based subsidiary of Canada's car-parts giant Magna International. His return to Austria--after 12 years in Germany and Brazil with Volkswagen--comes...

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