“If you can find a better car — buy it!”
Lido Anthony “Lee” Iacocca might have been a trained engineer. But what separated himself from his introverted colleagues, and what rocketed his way to the top of both Chrysler and Ford Motor Company, was his unshakable bravado, marketing creativity, and unquestionable leadership skills. Iacocca was one of those rare minds that knew what the public wanted before they did.
He died Tuesday from complications attributed to Parkinson’s disease. He was 94.
The son of Italian immigrant steel workers, Iacocca will forever be linked to two American icons that would each time change the landscape of the auto industry: the original Ford Mustang in the 1960’s and the original Chrysler minivan in the 1980’s. Their successors remain on sale today. As Ford Division General Manager at the time, Iacocca personally oversaw and championed the development of the Ford Mustang pony car. Without the Mustang, we likely would never have gotten any of its competitors, such as the Chevrolet Camaro or the Dodge Challenger.
Below are remarks from each of the Detroit Three automakers.
The Company is saddened by the news of Lee Iacocca’s passing. 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. 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.
From Ford Motor Company:
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.
From General Motors:
Lee Iococca loved America, the auto industry and the people who make it run – from the shop floor to the showroom. He will be missed.
Thank you, Lido. Rest easy.