Autos: The Biggest Switch

One of the remarkable strengths of General Motors Corp. is its ability to hang on to key men through a system based on tradition, hefty salaries, and stratospheric but delayed bonuses subject to costly forfeit if a man quits. Automen were understandably astonished two weeks ago when Semon Emil ("Bunkie") Knudsen, G.M.'s fourth-ranking officer, abruptly resigned as executive vice president and a company director. Even more stunning was last week's announcement that Knudsen had become the new president of Ford Motor Co., G.M.'s archrival in one of the toughest competitions private...