Lee Iacocca Dead at 94
Lido Anthony “Lee” Iacocca has died at the age of 94 from natural causes. He is survived by two daughters and eight grandchildren. He was born October 15, 1924 to parents who had immigrated from Italy.
He rose to the position of #2 at Ford, before his infamous firing. He is credited with being the father of the Ford Mustang – a car that started from humble roots (much like Iacocca) and rose to greatness. He was also instrumental in development of the Ford Pinto. Then came the fall from grace at Ford. One of the photos in his book showed him with the then new 1979 Mustang, with a caption “The car made it. I did not”.
From Ford, Iacocca was lured by Chrysler Corporation. Chrysler was in dire condition. His first order of business at Chrysler was to secure loan guaranties to prevent a Chrysler bankruptcy. Not only did he secure the loan guarantees, he eventually became the public face of Chrysler, pitching new products (K cars and minivans) and slogans (If you can find a better built car, buy it).
Over time, the pony car market rose and fell, and so did the Mustang. The minivan was the right product at the right time, but sales of minivans have softened in the past decade. But through foresight or blind luck, Iacocca’s deal to purchase AMC and Jeep gave Chrysler Corporation a strong foothold in the SUV market when few people were buying SUVs. But the timing was right and Chrysler rode on the profits of Cherokees and minivans.
There were other ventures that weren’t as successful – Gulfstream, Lamborghini, investment in Maserati.
And there was the publicity. Spokesman for Chrysler in commercial after commercial, paying off the loan guarantees early (and provided great profit to the federal government on the Chrysler stock it received as part of the loan guarantees), being appointed head of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island foundation, the work for Diabetes funding after Mary his first wife and mother of his children dies from diabetes.
Iacocca never seemed far from Chrysler after his retirement, pairing with Kirk Kerkorian during an attempt to take over Chrysler and then returning to Chrysler commercials in 2005.
Mark has been a technical writer for many years, working for automotive suppliers. He has always been an avid reader of magazines and websites dedicated to the domestic auto industry, and spent a lot of time analyzing sales trends in changing automotive markets. Mark’s fascination with the automotive industry began by reading yearbooks as a young child that highlighted the yearly changes cars used to receive every fall. From that, he developed a love of model car building. The cars of his childhood were mainly large Ford and Chevrolet sedans. Some of his previous restoration projects include a 1967 Plymouth Valiant, a 1980 Plymouth Volare Road Runner, and a 1989 Dodge Dakota Sport Convertible.