Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Prechter, Heinz

Heinz Prechter was an innovative entrepreneur, community leader, and philanthropist, who introduced sunroofs to cars in the United States. Born on January 19, 1942 in Kleinhöbing, Germany, Prechter began his career in the automotive industry at the age of 13, apprenticing in automotive trim, tool, and dye making, along with coach and body building.

Prechter gained a wide range of practical experience working for several different German automotive companies while he studied at the OHM Polytechnic Engineering School in Nuremberg, Germany. He came to the United States as a foreign exchange student in 1963, studying business administration and English at San Francisco State College. While a student in California, Prechter began installing sliding sunroofs in cars, then an unknown practice in the United States. By 1965, Prechter had founded the American Sunroof Company in Los Angeles, California. The company moved to Detroit in 1967 with the name ASC Inc. He also founded Heritage Network Incorporated, a group of Michigan companies involved in the transportation, hospitality, and communications industries.

Throughout his career, Prechter was recognized for his entrepreneurial accomplishments, broad community involvement, and political achievements. He was named “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Harvard Business Club, and in 1990 he received the Automotive Hall of Fame’s “Automotive Industry Leader of the Year” award. He was instrumental in converting the Detroit Auto Show to the North American International Auto Show.

In addition, Prechter sat on many community and corporate boards, including Comerica Bank and Thyssenkrupp. He was a close friend and avid fundraiser for the Bush family and in 1990, President Bush appointed him chairman of the National Advisory Committee on International Trade.

A longtime sufferer of depression, Heinz Prechter died on July 6, 2001 at the age of 59 of suicide. He was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame on October 5, 2004. Today, Prechter’s company is headquartered in Southgate, Michigan, and operates successfully at numerous facilities throughout the United States.



Prototype Trans Am from the American Sunroof Corporation, 1986 - 2010.070.001

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