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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    156

    Default Fictionalized Account of Auto Industry in 1960s-1970s?

    This forum has been a great help in clarifying fading memories about my early years in Michigan, and I am grateful to all the DY correspondents for your tolerance of my eccentric questions and posts...

    Now I am writing to ask for help with a senior moment: Approx. 40 years ago a novel about Detroit and the auto industry inspired me to try to work in engineering. The book is no longer in my bookcase, and several of my expat-Michigander friends attempted to help me recall its author and title. No luck thus far, and Google has been no help...

    Here are a few clues that those of us who read the novel recall:

    -- Part of the plot might have been modeled on the then-"golden couple" John and Kelly DeLorean - and their marital troubles - the protagonist somewhat resembled JDL, and he certainly had problems with his marriage - workaholic lifestyle, etc.

    -- A central plot of the book (IWRC there were several) was the design and initial steps to manufacture of a car we think was called the "Orion"...

    -- The Orion car (if that's what it was called) had a problem with vibration above a certain speed, and there was a sub-plot about this near the end of the book that involved some driving on a test track. IWRC, the problem was eventually fixed by attaching a metal plate to the body or chassis...

    -- The protagonist (can't recall his fictional name) had a "hobby", where he would sit in his office and estimate the traffic density on the freeway (Lodge?)...

    -- Either the auto development center or the residence of one of the main characters was located in the fictional town of "Ilium" (pun on Troy?)...

    Unfortunately, that's all we can remember. Can anyone possibly help with ID-ing the author or book title?

    Thank you for your help, and for tolerating my mental defects ...
    Last edited by beachboy; May-07-12 at 11:19 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    281

    Default

    The Betsie?sp?Was it also a mini series.

  3. #3
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    Mar 2009
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    4,377

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    isn't that "Wheels" by Arthur Hailey? came out in the early 70s

  4. #4
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    Mar 2009
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    I checked Gale's Books & Authors database and found this description of Arthur Hailey's Wheels, which mentions the Orion car model:

    As in his previous insider's look in Airport and Hotel, the author's subject is the complex working of the auto industry from the boardroom to the shopfloor, and the car dealer's showroom to the home life of the auto executives. The narrative concerns the launch of a new model, the Orion, which provides the occasion for an expose on the inner workings of the industry, including shady dealings, mafia involvement, worker corruption, and marital transgressions. A large cast, centered by a young senior executive Adam Trenton, and his unhappy and disturbed wife Erica illustrate the complexity of the auto industry.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    128

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    I remember that I liked Hailey's novels as a kid, until I read this one, which really sucked. I knew enough about Detroit and the auto industry to suspect that not many auto engineers were getting laid in the exotic fashions depicted in this book. But I can see how the vignette about the engineer working in his garage on devices to benefit the developing world could inspire someone to take up engineering. That was memorable, along with the riot-driven stereotypes and bad writing: "Curse this heartless city!"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    110

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    Sounds like Wheels to me. I've got it in my book collection.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    156

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    A big Thank You to DYers for recalling Wheels by Arthur Hailey!!
    My memory is so far gone ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Sandhouse View Post
    I remember that I liked Hailey's novels as a kid, until I read this one, which really sucked. I knew enough about Detroit and the auto industry to suspect that not many auto engineers were getting laid in the exotic fashions depicted in this book.
    Ah, but that's what motivated me to study engineering...

    But I can see how the vignette about the engineer working in his garage on devices to benefit the developing world could inspire someone to take up engineering. That was memorable...
    IIRC (whatta stretch) that was based on John DeLorean's bailing out of GM to work on socially-oriented business projects.

    Gotta get book @ Amazon ...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    238

    Default

    i read that book when i was in Cali in the Air Force...

    it kept my attention...

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