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Once Upon a Car: The Fall and Resurrection of America's Big Three Automakers--GM, Ford, and Chrysler
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Once Upon a Car: The Fall and Resurrection of America's Big Three Automakers--GM, Ford, and Chrysler

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  243 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Once Upon a Car is the fascinating epic story of the rise, fall, and rebirth of the Big Three U.S. automakers, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. Written by Bill Vlasic, the Detroit bureau chief for the New York Times and acclaimed author of Taken for a Ride, this eye-opening, richly anecdotal work is more than a riveting and insightful business history. It offers a clear ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published July 15th 2011 by William Morrow (first published January 18th 2011)
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Delhi Irc
Location: PTI IRC
Accession No: DL028548
A good overview of how Detroit got to the location where GM and Chrysler both had to go through bankruptcies, with both rising gas prices gutting the market for trucks and SUVs and the Great Recession drying up credit.

A good one but not a great one. Way back in the 1980s, the UAW, as well as the Big Three, resisted building greener cars. The UAW's Douglas Fraser invited Japan, in the persona of Honda, to come over; so why didn't the UAW unionize plants outside of that one, the plants outside the
Apr 09, 2012 Sicofonia rated it really liked it
This is a comprehensive story about the demise of the 3 American automakers during the last years of the 2000s. You will discover why GM and Chrysler bankruptcy was an event that did not happen overnight.
Years of self-indulgence and bad planning and decision-making put the industry on the verge of collapse. Bill Vlasic did a good job of compiling the information, basing his resources on extensive interviews with the people directly involved in the matter.
In my opinion it feels a little bit rushe
Dec 25, 2013 Ross rated it it was ok
I was disappointed with this book because I was seeking some detailed analysis of the condition of GM and Chrysler when then finally went into bankruptcy under the control of the Obama administration. Instead of financial detail about the companies and the labor rates they were stuck with from the UAW, the book was 90% interview notes of the author with company and union people. This ran along the lines of so-and-so said this and then the other so-and-so responded thus and so. Stories about the ...more
Mar 06, 2012 Jb rated it it was amazing
Subtitle well encapsulates what this book is about. Going into the 21st Century Anerican automakers amounted to a dinosaur industry, making gas-guzzling vehicles that few people wanted to buy. Lots were full of cars and trucks and too many factories were cranking out even more. Hourly labor costs and associated benefits were high compared to Japanese transplants. It’s a fascinating story about transformation in management styles: stodgy bureaucratic dysfunction to focused competitor GM), overwhe ...more
Tim Timberly
Jul 07, 2014 Tim Timberly rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. The author did a good job bouncing from company to company, stating the issues that faced them each individually and also collectively. He also skillfully showed the numerous issues that led to the economic catastrophe for the Big Three. I wish he would have spent more time on the "resurrection" of the auto industry as a balance to the downfall. I suspect that the author did not say as much about the recovery of the auto industry because it wasn't complete when he published ...more
Joline Godfrey
This was a page turner, really. The behind the scenes story of what happened in and to the car industry as the economy was tanking post 2008, could only be told by an objective insider--and NYT reporter, Bill Vlasic, writing for the Detroit Bureau, is just that. This is a story that covers both the foolhardy and the wise; the prescient and the blind. And the inside the story story of Bill Ford's actions are such I've almost decided to buy one of his cars. We'll see:).
May 09, 2013 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
This book is totally in my wheelhouse -- a well researched, nonfiction business narrative written by a respected journalist. This along with Steve Coll's book about Exxon Mobil ("Private Empire") are among two of the favorite books I've read recently. Fascinating insider account of what went wrong with America's Big Three auto companies and how they turned around (Ford), or were turned around against their will (GM, Chrysler).
Feb 16, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it
This book covers the Detroit car industry from about 2001-2010 including the bailouts of Chrysler and GM and the restructure of Ford. These three companies all started with the same problems (a rise in gas prices, higher than projected payments to employees and former employees, declining sales, poor quality cars) but took three different approaches to solving them. It sounds really dry, but it's a very readable book that brings the auto executives and other major players to life.
Jan 10, 2012 Rachel rated it really liked it
It was in interesting look into how the Big 3 saw the challenges facing them with the economic downturn in 2008 and reacted (or ignored) per their company heads. It was also interesting to compare my experiences at work with what was happening with those companies. In some ways they were very similar and in others, they were radically different. A good read for those who would like to see how not to react to an economic downturn.
Feb 09, 2012 Denise rated it liked it
Essentially an opera in 3 act. I was quite familiar with act 1 (reason for the fall of the auto industry) act 2 (how it has fallen) and I finished 27 chapters in record time. It was fun to read about behind the scene juicy bits. Act 3 (the bailout and resurrection) was quite short (chapter 28-32) and left me unsatisfied.
May 07, 2012 Peggy rated it it was amazing
loved this non-fiction book about the big 3, from 2004 to present/buyout . . . currently living in
Detroit and familiar with many of the names, this book delves into the behind the scenes strategies and personalities, and how close it all came to dissolving

(not a book club choice but recommended to me by my husband)
Aug 02, 2012 Andy rated it it was amazing
Best of the books on the Big 3 collapse. Vlasic is a veteran of this beat and it shows throughout his reporting. He interweaves the story of Ford, GM and Chrysler well and makes it into a page turner.
Jan 16, 2017 Ganesh rated it it was amazing
Amazing details and sneak peak in to the ups n downs of the car industry and the big 3. High recommended read.
Could not keep the book down. Was as engaging as a thriller novel, but with a lot of great content.

Get to see what each CEO and board generally go through at least at a high level.
Feb 05, 2012 Marshall rated it it was amazing
Really good book about what truly caused the great meltdown in 2007-8 for the Big 3. Out of all the automotive books I've read, save for some of the stories about Chrysler in the 80's, this book is definitely probably one of the best.
Mar 25, 2015 Aburnap rated it it was amazing
Amazing book about the situations leading up to the demise of the big 3 automakers(and subsequent foreshadowing of their return) that reads like a thriller! Hard to put this book down, which to be honest was very surprising going into it!
Manoj Sati
Feb 16, 2014 Manoj Sati rated it liked it
fairly detailed account of the going ons behind the auto sector in 2005-2009, its the "Too Big To Fail" for auto it if you like behind the scenes shenanigans that you don't expect to read otherwise...
Aug 05, 2012 Julia rated it liked it
In case you missed (or just couldn't palate) the meltdown in the auto industry a few years back, this will fill you in nicely. It won't make you admire the UAW or the management of at least two of the Big Three, though!
Michael Clifford
Great read about the 2005-2009 auto crisis. It contained a ton of information about what Ford did before the crisis in terms of mortgaging the company to raise money. That funded the development of new cars which are now on the market.
Dennis Willingham
Feb 23, 2012 Dennis Willingham rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, kindle, 2012
A 4* plus, a detailed history of the most recent near collapse of the Detroit auto industry. The author is a detroit based reporter with great contacts, the deep background and extensive iterviews with many of the participants was outstanding.
Betty Marshall
Jul 13, 2013 Betty Marshall rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Good insight into the auto industry inner workings.
Peter Hermann
Oct 31, 2011 Peter Hermann rated it really liked it
Great overview of the drama surrounding GM and Chrysler collapsing, and Ford booming, out of the financial crises of 2008 and beyond.
Will Meurer
Jan 27, 2013 Will Meurer rated it it was amazing
Makes me want to buy a Ford! (But not a Daimler, er Mercedes)
Jennings Peeler
Dec 28, 2014 Jennings Peeler rated it it was amazing
Shelves: project_2015

Couldn't put it down…reads like a thriller…and it's real-world. If you want a behind-the-scenes look into what created today's American auto industry, this is the book to read.

W Hall
Mar 27, 2012 W Hall rated it it was amazing
Excellent easily readable insight into the decline and hopefully recovery of the Big 3 in Detroit
May 09, 2014 Anderolas rated it liked it
good behind the curtains story
Mar 04, 2015 Richard rated it it was amazing
Shelves: project_2015

Couldn't put it down…reads like a thriller…and it's real-world. If you want a behind-the-scenes look into what created today's American auto industry, this is the book to read.

Jul 27, 2014 Eugene rated it really liked it
Excellent book on the recent workings of the Big Three U.S. Auto Companies. Sure makes me want to purchase foreign cars.
Craig rated it really liked it
Sep 07, 2012
Ben rated it it was amazing
Jun 27, 2013
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