Business: In the Drivers' Seats

Detroit's auto leaders represent an American melting pot. General Motors Chairman Thomas Aquinas Murphy is of Irish descent; Ford Chairman Philip Caldwell has an English background; Chrysler Chairman Lee A. Iacocca's parents were Italian immigrants; and United Auto Workers President Douglas Fraser was born in Scotland. Just as various as their backgrounds are their strongly argued views about the current state of their industry and its future.

Thomas A. Murphy, 64, has headed the second largest U.S. industrial corporation since 1974. During his tenure, GM moved aggressively to design and build Detroit's most...

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