By August 2008, the situation was getting desperate. The Detroit Three were burning through billions every month. GM and Chrysler were running out of time. Chrysler's new owner, Cerberus Capital Management, was a New York private-equity firm named for the three-headed hellhound in Greek mythology that guards the gates of the underworld. In its first -- and last -- foray into automaking, Cerberus was feeling the heat of a hell of its own creation. It was looking for an exit strategy.