Former Ford CEO Alan Mulally and consumer activist Ralph Nader will join Bertha Benz, the wife and business partner of Carl Benz, who invented the gasoline-powered automobile, and engineer Roy Lunn, godfather of the Ford GT40, as the latest inductees into the Automotive Hall of Fame, the museum said Thursday.
The four inductees will be honored at the hall’s 2016 induction and awards ceremony on July 21 at Cobo Center in Detroit.
“We are pleased to induct four individuals whose entrepreneurial spirit helped create today’s global automotive industry,” William R. Chapin, president of the Automotive Hall of Fame, said in a statement. “Each made their unique vision a reality through tenacity, creativity and forward thinking, traits that still drive the auto industry evolution today.”
Mulally, 70, oversaw the team that created the first all-digital airplane, the Boeing 777. He became CEO of Ford in 2006 and steered the company through the severe downturn of 2008-09 before retiring in July 2014.
The museum, in honoring Mulally, credited the former Ford chief with one of the “greatest turnarounds in American business” and his “epic gamble” in approving development of the company’s redesigned, all-aluminum F-150 pickup truck, a first for a major automaker.
“Mulally guided the Ford team in working together on a compelling vision, comprehensive strategy and relentless implementation of the One Ford plan to successfully guide the company through the U.S. financial crisis and restore Ford’s status as one of the world’s leading automakers,” the hall said in a statement.
Nader upended the auto industry more than 50 years ago with hislandmark book, “Unsafe At Any Speed,” that exposed safety lapses in General Motor vehicles. The book sparked government hearings and helped introduce a wave of U.S. regulations and spurred Congress to create the federal agency that became the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Lunn, 91, a former Royal Air Force pilot with degrees in mechanical and aeronautical engineering, joined Ford in 1953 to start a new research center in England. In 1962, he and a team of engineers developed a two-seat Ford Mustang I prototype in just 100 days.
After Ford CEO Henry Ford II’s attempt to acquire Ferrari collapsed, Lunn took on a special assignment to design and develop a GT racing car. The Ford GT40captured first, second and third places at Le Mans fifty years ago this month and ended Enzo Ferrari’s domination of endurance sports car racing.
Lunn later joined American Motors in 1971 as head of engineering for Jeep and developed what would become the Jeep XJ — the Cherokee and Wagoneer. They were produced for 18 years with total output of nearly 3 million, the hall said.
Bertha Benz was a driving force behind the invention of the automobile. She is widely credited for becomingthe first person, in 1888, to drive an automobile, the Benz Patent Motorwagen, over a long distance. She also served as her own mechanic on the trip. While she was not an engineer or inventor, the hall said she “must be mentioned at the same time as her husband, Carl Benz, the inventor of the automobile.” They will become the first husband and wife to be inducted into the hall. Carl Benz entered the hall in 1984.