Executive Suite: A Car Buff Takes the Wheel

In one of the most striking design shifts in modern automotive history, Ford Motor two years ago traded in its boxy styling for the rounded forms of its current new cars. The sleek redesign has been a hit in the showroom, and last week Ford named Donald Petersen, 58, who championed the new shapes, to succeed the retiring Philip Caldwell as chairman next Feb. 1. Executive Vice President Harold Poling, 59, will replace Petersen as president.

Petersen, an engineer by training and a member of Mensa, the high-IQ society, has spent much of...

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