Prof. Dr. h.c. mult. Martin Winterkorn is the head of VW AG, the third largest carmaker in the world. He might be the most powerful man in the car industry altogether. I watched him scour the new 2015 Chrysler 200 and he liked it. Maybe.
The best part of auto shows isn't seeing new cars; the best part of auto shows is seeing members of the industry analyze their competitors' cars. Winterkorn is known for dissecting his rivals, most notably from the time he got pissed off at how good Hyundais are these days.
I was walking by the Chrysler stand and I happened to see Herr Winterkorn sitting in a new 200 with at least a dozen other VW AG executives around him. I waited for the cloud of VW people to blow away from the Chrysler. Winterkorn strode away, his trademark 'fuck you' double-breasted jacket open. I quietly approached him, asking him in German,
"Herr Winterkorn, what do you think of it?"
"Of the Chrysler 200."
He paused. He grinned. I swear he stood fifteen feet tall as he said,
There was a longer pause, he asked me who I worked for, and he walked away.
I can't say that I ever understood what really was going on behind those deep, omnipotent eyes. I can say that every time he was actually in the car poking around, he was glowering like no one I've seen glower before.
Hey, maybe he liked it.
Photo Credits: Raphael Orlove