You try to read the car market and all you can say is "You dumb foot drag-gers—you in Detroit—what took you so long to know imports were going to hit a million?" Now the market is damn well defined, and you know what the market says: "Give me a hell of a good buy for two grand, will you?"

THAT is Ford Executive Vice President Lee lacocca's earthy account of a decision that will shake up the U.S. auto market well into the 1970s. This week Ford plants in St. Thomas, Ont., and Kansas City, Mo., begin turning out lacocca's "hell of...

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