The New Boss: A Car Guy

Since entrepreneur and stock-market speculator Billy Durant first cobbled together a venture he called General Motors in 1908, the company has always been ruled by finance men, numbers wizards and balance-sheet fixers. No one was a better example of this than Roger Smith, a diffident financial virtuoso who led the company during the 1980s. But when Smith retired last July after a decade in which GM lost one-fourth of its U.S. market share, mostly because of weak products, GM's board made history by promoting an engineer to the chairman's job.

The fix-it man is Robert Stempel, 57, a 6-ft. 4-in. former...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!