The big wheels--Ford, Durant, Sloan, Chrysler, Sloan, Henry II, Sloan--and a few blowouts--traffic saturation, auto safety, air pollution--as viewed by an unabashed booster for the industry. Drawing quite openly (and primarily) on the memoirs of the men featured, Mr. Fanning credits Ford with the assembly line, Durant with outclassing Ford in the same class (via the Chevy), Sloan with advancing the concept of a variety of models, forcing Ford to abandon the Model T. Sloan and Kettering (the electric self-starter) are seen as prizes of Durant's policy of absorbing related companies, and Sloan, long head of GM and management expert second to none, emerges as the central figure of the book. Acknowledged also are Chrysler's high-compression, high-speed engine, initiating the ""modern phase of automobile development,"" and Henry Ford II's feat in restructuring Ford operations. The foregoing has some value as business history, however narrow; the remainder, involving current issues and attempting to refute critics of the industry, lacks the value of a complete disclosure--on either side. For example, Mr. Fanning attributes the seeming jump in recalls of defective cars since federal legislation to mandatory publication of figures, implies--without supplying figures of his own--that the manufacturers had been doing this all along. It's no answer to Nader and only of limited, almost parochial, interest otherwise.