For nearly a century the court -- success for millions of American families was the assembly line especially in the auto industry. Many of those jobs were lost when the car industry all but collapsed... See More
For nearly a century the court -- success for millions of American families was the assembly line especially in the auto industry. Many of those jobs were lost when the car industry all but collapsed recently and two of the Big Three needed government bailouts. But the auto maker that has come back the fastest refuse to bail out. Ford. ABC's David -- -- with the sacrifices the workers made. To keep America's oldest carmaker afloat and the tough decisions at the top that kept for. Building the American dream. Reduced first American automobiles rolled off the assembly lines -- -- -- workers were creating more than cars were creating America's middle class. At its peak the auto industry employs more than a million Americans. Al Aqsa mosque and they were the muscle and the -- -- -- asked General Motors Chrysler and Ford spent the building loyalty -- driveways across this country. -- asking that iconic question. For the far more serious question would emerge in the depths of the recession what -- -- auto industry could even survive. Order loan. Thirty billion dollars in the red. Generations of families who -- those plants growing more mortars. -- glucose or retiree -- to more than three decades. The way of life. Some -- -- -- -- -- at 150. -- -- And that's when Henry Ford's own grandson Herbert company over to an outsider -- Alan Mulally I usually here. One. -- -- -- leaving only went from city jobs and taken very rare step and from work to -- to seeing. Accepted wage freezes after benefits -- if he's been sacrificed here who would not take the taxpayer bailout or file for bankruptcy. That new CEO would -- seventeen plants. More than 50000 workers board would take out a staggering 23 billion dollars and might have blown had to layoff nearly. Half of the workforce that's a tough sell -- CEO. We had to size our production to the real the -- course -- was really low so we had painful decisions to reduce our production capability and employment. -- I don't -- she would have gone into bankruptcy it could have led the United States recession -- depression. That it was that same fear around the dinner table at the Lucas and -- -- around Dearborn at motor town 90000. And Lucas father started making -- -- for forwards in the 1930s. More generations later still going to answer when he -- -- -- he was a secretary. You train here most disgusting I didn't. Most of them and constantly -- most of them in. You can gambling bring home someone not driving -- -- Parked -- back. But to bring fort -- company needed to become more competitive overseas. -- -- -- and an important taken on too many brands want to meet up management would be with color coded chart. And he famously remembered the first on the manager actually held up a red chart for daring move. Signaling to the new CEO that production should be. Up comes the charge -- -- bright -- and so I started to clap that you applauded the bravery and someone being willing to say. We should -- this at least for the moment the figure out a better plan there are no secrets there are no hidden agendas. At the time -- knew nothing can be -- truly want to bring back in American brand. It's still the auto makers were under fire in Washington the CEOs of the Big Three auto makers grilled on Capitol Hill. After flying private jets to Washington to request taxpayer bailout money. Sports CEO when asked if he would do his job for a dollar that he believed he was earnings -- are you willing to go down to the dollar. -- -- -- -- Convinced he was earning that seventeen million in pay because inside for the turnaround begun. And she did survive. And thanked -- CEO took those drastic step. Dan Lucas and Tom -- for -- line putting the air conditioning the F 150. While upstairs to plan -- you have like your little private oasis. College this kind of my. My home at times per share. Net and -- -- -- painter to. C -- the only factory worker -- your own artist's studio upstairs. It is. The -- any of the motor company -- landscapes here corporate power engines instead. So I see -- begun to sketch. I'm guessing at when it -- correctness -- -- when -- -- fifty nothing about it. Speaking workers on the walls inside -- factory making come -- And we're here today to tell. Turns out many would -- -- -- -- -- -- Now get hired 121000. New employees for the next three years. It about -- 23 billion dollar loan Ford took out over that lasts seven quarters we every play. Point one billion -- are almost there. In fact the entire US auto industry is now enjoying its best annual sales in years. -- -- -- -- The gradual improvement economy and on -- walk through that F 150 factory in Dearborn. One more -- -- degree at retiree named Dan who had no idea when we invited him back to the factory. That CEO. Becoming too. I know you. And -- -- here are here all well. I don't put down on the spot but I I have a photograph of him oh. Four started. An image of Dan his wife their first child and -- other Beatty first Ford Mustang 65 at -- 64. The first -- one April -- war. -- you'll remember it was Dan who told us if he ever met the CEO. He'd say thank you could -- -- CEO about to turn the tables on the retiree. I'm standing on your shoulders. One thing that but if -- got more to this place and we had taken flying. -- -- -- -- Are -- sitting in a factory of survivors these are more than survivors we are fighting. For the soul of that faction in the United States this is the heart of America.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.