That list of fixes is eerily similar to the moves President Obama's automotive task force has forced GM to tackle in recent months. It rejected GM's first restructuring plan, saying the automaker wasn't realistic enough about market share and revenue projections. GM has been pressured to sell off Hummer, Saturn, Saab and its European unit, Opel. It's closing Pontiac.
CEO Fritz Henderson has said the automaker is going over the entire company, questioning every plant, product and personnel move. But Henderson's moves came after the company was essentially in free fall and operating on billions in federal aid.
York didn't hang around long. He resigned from the board after eight months, sending directors a sharp letter chastising them for not being critical enough of GM and saying he had grave reservations about GM's ability to compete.
6. Mishandling Fiat
When GM bought 20% of Italian automaker Fiat for $2.4 billion in GM shares, the deal seemed like a genius move. With Opel/Vauxhall, it would've given GM dominance in the European market and made GM an even stronger global player.
But then Fiat CEO Gianni Agnelli died, and problems with the automaker mushroomed.
As part of the deal for GM's stake, Fiat had the right to force GM to buy the remaining shares and take control. In 2005, GM decided, instead, to pay Fiat $2 billion to get out of the deal.
Fiat used that money to turn itself around, and it will be Chrysler's newest owner.
Is it ironic or sad?
7. Overreacting to the truck boom
GM is often criticized for too many SUVs, but, as Wagoner has acknowledged, GM actually overlooked the start of the high-profit truck boom kicked off by the launch of the Ford Explorer SUV in 1990.
"We always considered ourselves a 'car' company," he later explained to USA TODAY.
When GM realized how fast 1990s buyers were switching to trucks as personal transportation, it overreacted, pouring time and money into SUVs and pickups at the expense of car development. The result: As long ago as 2000, Wall Street was warning that GM could be overcommitted to trucks and wind up out of phase if the pendulum of buyer preference swung back to cars. Once consumer tastes began changing, the market was awash in new truck models, and profits were sapped by discounts needed to keep sales boiling.
The symbol of GM's swing too far toward trucks is the high-end Hummer. GM launched the big SUV in 2003, the compact H3 in 2005. As buyers edged away from trucks, then fled as fuel prices hit records in 2008, GM wound up with pricey models that not only didn't sell, but also gave it an environmental black eye. Some of the heftiest Hummer H2s barely managed 10 miles per gallon.
Contributing: James R. Healey in McLean, Va.