GRAND RAPIDS, MI - Bennett (Ben) Bidwell, former chairman of Chrysler Motors, passed away on October 14. He was 84. He retired from Chrysler in 1990 after a 37-year career in the automotive industry.
He was appointed the chairman of Chrysler Motors in 1988. He joined Chrysler in 1983 as executive vice president. Sales, marketing, and public affairs all reported to him. He was elected to the company’s board of directors in 1983.
Before joining Chrysler, Bidwell was president and chief operating officer of The Hertz Corp. Prior to his role there; he worked with Ford Motor Co. for 27 years. He became vice president of the car and truck group for Ford’s North American Automotive Operations in 1978.
“Ben was a great friend, not only with me but he was always supportive and enthusiastic about the fleet business for Ford and Chrysler,” said Ed Bobit, chairman of Bobit Business Media. “We were the same age, so we related. He was kind enough to address the AFLA group in the association's early years for me. His humor was apparent every time we met; dealers and everyone one he met felt comfortable with him and admired his leadership.”
In 1990, Fleet Financials magazine interviewed Bidwell about Chrysler's product plans, fleet cost containment, and vehicle selection. You can view a PDF of the article here.
“Ben Bidwell was a huge supporter of fleet while at Chrysler,” said Mike Antich, editor of Automotive Fleet and Fleet Financials magazine. “I interviewed Ben several times in the final years of his career and he was the cover story for several issues of Fleet Financial magazine. Without a doubt, his knowledge of the auto industry was incredibly impressive, but my fondest memory was his sense of humor.”
Bidwell was a World War II veteran. He was the husband of Paula N. Bidwell (nee Nelson) for 55 years. He was the father of Karen A. Bidwell, Michael B. (Theresa) Bidwell and the late Susan (Alex) Fasules. He was the grandfather of Angela, Alexander, Bennett, and Charles, and he was the brother of Ann (Chandler) Sanborn and the late George Kinsley Bidwell.