Ford Motor Company, maker of the Taurus, one of the greatest American automobile success stories, faced a daunting challenge in the early 1990s: The Dearborn, Mich.-based manufacturing giant needed to redesign and freshen its bestselling product without losing the elusive appeal that had made it the most popular car in the United States. In scope the Taurus project, code-named DN101, was not unlike a space mission. It involved a huge financial investment and required thousands of people and machines to mesh for a common purpose: inspiring more consumers to choose the 1996 Taurus over its main competition—the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. The buyers didn't bite, entirely; the new Taurus lagged behind Camry and never zoomed like the old.
Walton, a former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter who was granted unprecedented access to the inner workings of Ford, presents an objective account of the inevitable design problems, construction snafus and infighting. Fascinating without being overly technical, Car describes how the rides of our dreams are really assembled. (Norton, $26.95)