HOT SPRINGS, S.D., Nov. 21 (UPI) -- John D. Rock, a General Motors Corp. executive who tried to save the Oldsmobile division, died in Hot Springs, S.D., at 71, a funeral home said.
Rock had just taken charge of Oldsmobile in 1992 when news reports suggested GM planned to eliminate the division in a reorganization plan, The New York Times reported.
"I feel like somebody just shot my horse," said Rock, who likened himself to an angry cowboy.
To rejuvenate the brand, Rock eliminated the slowest-selling versions of each Oldsmobile model and discontinued the 26-year-old front-wheel-drive Toronado.
He then modernized Oldsmobile's lineup, aiming at consumers who might otherwise buy foreign cars, the Times said.
His efforts -- including adding the Aurora luxury sedan and adopting a new stylized logo -- delayed Oldsmobile's demise until 2004.
Rock was born Jan. 30, 1936, in Groton, S.D., the son of an auto dealer.
He earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Minnesota in 1959. He is survived by his wife, Bonnie, whom he married in 1968.
The report did not give a cause of death.
No funeral or memorial services were held, as Rock requested, funeral home McColley's Funeral Chapels of the Hills in Hot Springs said on its Web site.