Lee Iacocca, star CEO who led Ford, saved Chrysler, has died

Lee Iacocca Dead at 94

Lee Iacocca, auto industry leader, dead at 94

Lee Iacocca was truly bigger than life and he left an indelible mark on Ford, the auto industry and our country.

Born to Italian immigrant parents in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1924, Mr. Iacocca began his career as an engineer at the Ford Motor Company in 1946 In 1964 he cemented his place in history by designing and launching the Ford Mustang, which sold 419,000 in its first year, one of America's most iconic cars.

Iacocca was perhaps most remembered for his phrase: "If you can find a better auto, buy it!" and bestselling books that included "Talking Straight", which discussed American ingenuity at a time when many feared economic takeover from Japan.

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Iacocca later became the CEO of Chrysler in 1979, a position he held until he retired in 1992. He wrote two best-selling books and was courted as a presidential candidate. Chrysler then filed suit against him, saying he gave confidential information to Kirk Kerkorian - who tried to take over the company. He is also popularly called as Father of Ford Mustang. Chrysler, which averted collapse in 1980 in what may have been Iacocca's crowning achievement, was buffeted by the financial crisis and recession of 2008, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April 2009.

Iacocca caught the attention of Ford executives with sales pitches like the legendary '56 for 56, ' that offered 1956 model year cars at a nominal 20 per cent down payment and a $56 payment for the next three years - executives like Robert McNamara.

His passing was confirmed by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in a statement.

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His rise within Ford was meteoric and his 'cunning, ingenuity and swagger made him one of the most successful salesmen of his generation, ' The Washington Post said. Gary Hart. He continually said no to the "draft Iacocca" talk. He will go down in history as being the driving force behind the original Ford Mustang, which turned out to be an huge commercial success despite the small budget available during the development phase. Kathryn has since become the foundation's president.

Iacocca spent 32 years with Ford Motor Co before joining Chrysler as its president in 1978.

On the back of his success, President Ronald Reagan asked Iacocca to undertake a private sector fundraising effort to restore the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. At the same time, Iacocca convinced the government to bailout the ailing brand, and by 1983, cleared all the company's loans.

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