Auto Industry Legend Lee Iacocca, The Father Of The Mustang, Has Passed Away At Age 94
Lee Iacocca has passed away from Parkinson’s disease complications at his home in Los Angeles, aged 94. The motoring world would be quite a different place were it not for this pioneering automobile business executive; over a career spanning 46-years he played a pivotal role in ensuring that the Mustang saw the light of day as well as working tirelessly to bring Chrysler back from the brink of collapse. He secured the first major bail-out loan from Congress for an automaker and saw merit in the Minivan concept when Ford decided that it wasn’t worth pursuing.
There were some low points too, like the Pinto, which was prone to catching fire in rear-end collisions, and his eventual departure from Ford in 1978 after being fired by Henry Ford II. Yet his hard work, dedication to the workforce and no-nonsense approach to business ensured that his legacy remains a positive one.
Not every product and business move was an unqualified success but many were, the Chrysler Minivan was a game-changer that led the industry for over two decades and the pony car segment may have been rather different were it not for the introduction of that first Mustang. He became well-known for his frequent TV appearances promoting Chrysler in the ‘80s and his trademark phrase “If you can find a better car, buy it” highlighted his straight-forward nature.
While at Chrysler Iacocca acquired American Motors and their niche Jeep brand, a shrewd move in hindsight; as many of his decisions tended to be. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) released a statement saying, “Lee gave us a mindset that still drives us today—one that is characterized by hard work, dedication and grit. We are committed to ensuring that Chrysler, now FCA, is such a company, an example of commitment and respect, known for excellence as well as for its contribution to society. His legacy is the resiliency and unshakeable faith in the future that live on in the men and women of FCA who strive every day to live up to the high standards he set.”
Outside of the automotive world, Iacocca founded the Olivio Premium Products company to fund research into a cure for diabetes after his first wife died from the disease. He also supported a number of other charities and worthy causes over the years.
Bill Ford the current executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company said, “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.”
Lee Iacocca left an indelible mark on the motoring world and he will be remembered as one of the true automotive legends.