Business: Chip Off the Old Engine Block

AUTOMAKER KNUDSEN

ONE of the enduring mysteries of U.S. business is how a product can suddenly catch fire with consumers or, at times, just as suddenly lose favor. Nearly 30 years ago, General Motors' William S. Knudsen, a Danish immigrant bicyclemaker turned automan, was the one who lit the fuse under Chevrolet and sent it out ahead of Ford as the most popular U.S. car. His reward was the presidency of General Motors. Three years ago, Big Bill Knudsen's son, Semon Emil Knudsen, took on a similar job: he was made boss of G.M.'s...

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