Lee Iacocca dead at 94
July 3, 2019—Lee Iacocca, the larger-than-life auto executive, died on July 2 at his home in California. He was 94.
During his rise to CEO of Ford in the 1960s, he is credited for spearheading the launch of the popular Mustang.
He went on to head up Chrysler, a stint that began with a massive federal loan to turn around the ailing company. The $1.2 billion loan was paid back in four years and the company went on to years of success.
His bold, public-facing style made him a household name. As the New York Times wrote in its obituary:
"He conferred with President Ronald Reagan, members of Congress, governors and business leaders. He was mobbed by admirers and pursued by the press. Polls confirmed that a run for the White House was realistic, and his denials of political ambition only fueled public interest in a possible candidacy."
The two companies that Iacocca led released statements on the news of his death.
“Lee Iacocca was truly bigger than life and he left an indelible mark on Ford, the auto industry and our country. Lee played a central role in the creation of Mustang. On a personal note, I will always appreciate how encouraging he was to me at the beginning of my career. He was one of a kind and will be dearly missed," said Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford in a statement.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles also released a statement that says in part:
"He played a historic role in steering Chrysler through crisis and making it a true competitive force. He was one of the great leaders of our company and the auto industry as a whole. He also played a profound and tireless role on the national stage as a business statesman and philanthropist.
"Lee gave us a mindset that still drives us today – one that is characterized by hard work, dedication and grit."
Image: U.S. National Archives