Firestone, Clunkers and Chapter 11: The Decade in Car News

December 28, 2009

As 2009 draws to a close this week, the auto industry is waving goodbye to a decade--and in some corners, waving it good riddance.

The "Naughties" might be the best neologism for this lost decade. It began with new alliances forming and new empires emerging, and ends on Friday in a multi-car pileup of cratered sales, shuttered brands and factories, wiped-out shareholders, and only a faint glimmer of hope for recovery in 2010.

There's been huge disruption around the carmaking globe since 2000, against a backdrop of titanic clashes of egos, epic battles of highly anticipated new products--and inevitably, the sound of an economic freight train approaching.

Who would have imagined the epic fail of the American auto industry in a pre-9/11, pre-iPhone, pre Bush v. Gore world? Who could have thought GM would fall as hard as it did--with Toyota taking a stumble right behind it? Would anyone ever have foreseen Porsche being swallowed up by Volkswagen?

Will someone please explain exactly how we were to expect Bob Lutz and 50 Cent in the same room--much less on the same stage--for the stillborn return of the El Camino?'s editors have watched and written these stories as they unfolded right before us, live and on the Web. We've culled our best memories of our longest news days down to the ten stories that defined the 2000s.

We've left a few on the cutting room floor, too. Cash for clunkers? Big news, but ultimately a government-induced anomaly. The rise of South Korean automakers like Hyundai and Kia? A huge story, but one already in the works in the 1990s. Aztek? Leave it alone. Just leave it alone.

As we look back wistfully at the days when tires were the most Detroit had to worry about,'s team has chosen these as the top car news stories of the decade:

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