If you’re over 40 years of age and take an interest in the automotive domain, you are surely familiar with the name Lee Iacocca. You also likely appreciate just how much of a legend the industry has just lost.
If you don’t know Lee Iacocca, simply appreciate this: The long-time executive was one of the forces behind the creation of the Ford Mustang in the 1960s, and nearly two decades later, in the early 1980s, he literally saved Chrysler from bankruptcy.
What’s more, in an era long before social media, Lee Iacocca became a huge star, in large part thanks to his television appearances. Ad campaigns placed the executive front and centre. He personally went to bat to defend and pitch the vehicles being produced by his company, and did it with flair and conviction. In one memorable spot, he proclaimed “If you can find a better car, buy it!”
Lee Iacocca died yesterday, aged 94, due to complications arising from Parkinsons disease.
Right after graduating in Engineering from Princeton, in 1946, Lee Iacocca started working for the Ford Motor company. By 1970, the man known as the father of the Mustang took the reins of the company. He would be fired in 1978 due to differences with Henry Ford II, but quickly ended up at Chrysler.
Iacocca led that automotive company out of an enormous morass by instituting an aggressive turnaround plan. Some may remember the executive’s salary at that time: $1 per annum.
He was the man behind the famous K-Car, and he was also responsible for the advent of the minivan. The idea of such a vehicle had been raised at Ford in the 1970s, but Henry Ford II had nixed it. The man behind the project, Hal Sperlich, later found himself at Chrysler, and within a week of Iacocca arriving at that company, the project was given the go-ahead.
We could go on enumerating the contributions Lee Iacocca made to the development of the automotive industry in the 20th century.
A true giant of the domain has left us.