Bob Lutz is an American hero for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that he used to fly himself to work in his own personal helicopter. Last week, I asked Bob about a helicopter-related rumor that had been circulating around the Fiat Chrysler offices when I worked there.
As a former auto engineer, I’ve heard tons of cool automobile-related rumors, many of them probably nonsense like that one about the Grand Wagoneer’s wooden side panels.
Still, they’re fun, so here goes another one I’ve heard more recently from former coworkers: It’s about a little concrete parking circle near the design dome at the Chrysler Technical Center in Auburn Hills (here’s the Google Maps link). The rumor goes that it was built as a helicopter pad for Bob Lutz sometime around 1990 after Bob had lost his license due to speeding violations.
I asked Bob about the rumor, and he said that yes, that little circle out by the design dome was indeed a helicopter pad, and that Lutz used if often, though not because he had to—that bit about losing his license is total bullshit.
Bob went on, saying it wasn’t a very great place to land, and that he had wanted the helipad built right out front of the Chrysler entrance in the open, but Bob Eaton thought too many employees would get distracted seeing Bob Lutz fly into and out of work.
“Maximum” Bob disagreed, saying sure, it might be a distraction the first few times, but after seeing him fly into and out of work everyday, people would stop caring.
I nodded my head in agreement, though deep down I knew in my heart that if I worked at Chrysler during the Lutz Era, I would have dropped what I was doing and watched every damn one of Bob’s landings and takeoffs.