Once seen as humble, sturdy, and somewhat stodgy, Ford is now the automaker everyone has agreed to love . On Monday it posted $997 million in profit, snapping a four year dry streak. This comes shortly after the United Autoworkers rejected a cost-cutting move--a blow to Ford's future competitiveness. Even analysts who adore the automaker were surprised, as many expected them to clock in this quarter with a loss.

How did Ford do it? Conservatives cite Ford's resistance to government money, and believe consumers share their view. Cash for Clunkers undoubtedly lifted sales, but the Detroit automaker also boasts high satisfaction results and social media savvy. Ford's $26 billion private debt is niggling worry for the boosters, as is its failure to trim costs as much as its government-backed rivals.

  • Self Sufficiency, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. "While GM and Chrysler struggle, Ford has built a new reputation for independence and competence. The efforts of its management to steer a course away from taxpayer bailouts has generated a lot of goodwill -- perhaps not in Detroit itself or with the unions, but with consumers angry at the corporate welfare policies of this administration and its predecessor. That goodwill will translate to better sales, assuming that Ford can overcome its competitive disadvantage on labor costs, an effort that will officially fail this week on their first attempt...Ford has found a formula for success: self-sufficiency, or at least enough of it to differentiate themselves from their domestic competition."
  • Cash for Clunkers, writes Forbes analyst Steve Schaefer. "Cash For Clunkers helps automaker earn 26 cents a share...Ford said it earned $1 billion in the July-September period, but did not break out the contribution of the Cash For Clunkers program, which borrowed demand from future quarters as buyers were enticed to dealerships with incentives funded by the federal government."
  • Solid Vehicles, suggests Nick Bunkley in his report for the New York Times. "Ford has been having more success than its cross-town rivals at attracting customers, and its newest vehicles are winning commendations from third-party sources like the magazine Consumer Reports, which last week declared Ford's quality to be 'as dependable -- or better than -- some of the industry's best.'"
  • Cutting Costs--But Not Enough, writes Dee-Ann Durbin in an AP analysis. "Ford workers agreed to $500 million in concessions earlier this year, while workers at GM and Chrysler approved concessions that saved their companies more than $1 billion each...Ford workers have overwhelmingly rejected contract changes that would have allowed the automaker to cut labor costs, leaving Ford at a disadvantage to its Detroit rivals as it continues its struggle to return to profitability."
  • Social Media, suggests Rachel Sklar at Mediaite. "Ford's big push has been its "Fiesta Movement" for a car that isn't even available yet (a good indication of successful penetration is me having actually heard of the Ford Fiesta, and thinking it was already out)...It is, of course, hard to know whether a giant marketing push for a car that isn't even available yet has translated into customers plunking down their hard-earned (and scarce!) cash for a Ford-made vehicle. Certainly Ford has been making a lot of noise in social media -- and getting a LOT of press for it."