Auto industry icon Lee Iacocca dies in Los Angeles aged 94

Auto industry icon Lee Iacocca, known best for developing the Ford Mustang and Pinto and yanking Chrysler Corp from the brink of bankruptcy in the 1980s, has died. 

He passed away aged 7:30 Tuesday morning at his home in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, California

The cause was complications from Parkinson’s disease, his daughter Lia Iacocca Assad told The Washington Post.    

Lido Anthony 'Lee' Iacocca passed away at his Bel Air home early Tuesday (pictured in 2006)

Lido Anthony 'Lee' Iacocca passed away at his Bel Air home early Tuesday (pictured in 2006)

The auto tycoon was 94 (pictured in 2006)

The auto tycoon was 94 (pictured in 2006)

Auto tycoon Lido Anthony ‘Lee’ Iacocca passed away at his Bel Air home early Tuesday aged 94. Both photos are from 2006

Iacocca was known as the 'father of the Mustang' for his role in its development in 1964

Iacocca was known as the 'father of the Mustang' for his role in its development in 1964

Iacocca was known as the ‘father of the Mustang’ for his role in its development in 1964 

Then known as the 'Father of the Mustang,' straight-talking Iacocca was made President of Ford in 1970

Then known as the 'Father of the Mustang,' straight-talking Iacocca was made President of Ford in 1970

Then known as the ‘Father of the Mustang,’ straight-talking Iacocca was made President of Ford in 1970

Born Lido Anthony Iacocca on October 15, 1924 to Italian immigrant parents, he went on to get a master’s degree in engineering from Princeton University in 1946.

He was hired as an engineer by the Ford Motor Company, but soon changed into sales, a ‘shift that sparked an illustrious beginning for Lee and ushered in monumental achievements for Ford, including the undertaking of the Fairlane committee and the production of the 1964 Mustang,’ according to The Iacocca Family Foundation

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. 

Then known as the ‘Father of the Mustang,’ Iacocca was made President of Ford in 1970. 

He was abruptly fired from his position by Henry Ford II eight years later, likely because of a clash of egos. 

He joined Chrysler nine years later and eventually became its CEO. 

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Iacocca was widely credited with saving Chrysler from bankruptcy by persuading Congress in 1980 to approve federal loan guarantees of up to $1.5 billion

Iacocca was widely credited with saving Chrysler from bankruptcy by persuading Congress in 1980 to approve federal loan guarantees of up to $1.5 billion

Iacocca was widely credited with saving Chrysler from bankruptcy by persuading Congress in 1980 to approve federal loan guarantees of up to $1.5 billion

In this 1981 photo, U.S. President Ronald Reagan, left, meets with Ford President Philip Caldwell, center, and Chrysler President Lee Iacocca. Reagan later tasked Iacocca with a private sector fundraising effort to restore the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

In this 1981 photo, U.S. President Ronald Reagan, left, meets with Ford President Philip Caldwell, center, and Chrysler President Lee Iacocca. Reagan later tasked Iacocca with a private sector fundraising effort to restore the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

In this 1981 photo, U.S. President Ronald Reagan, left, meets with Ford President Philip Caldwell, center, and Chrysler President Lee Iacocca. Reagan later tasked Iacocca with a private sector fundraising effort to restore the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

He was widely credited with saving the company from bankruptcy by persuading Congress in 1980 to approve federal loan guarantees of up to $1.5 billion.  

In what has been described as the biggest corporate save in U.S. business history, the straight-talking Iacocca revitalized Chrysler by closing factories, dismissing tens of thousands of employees, and slashing executive salaries, including cutting his own to a dollar a year. 

Already the face of the American car business, Iacocca became a household name across America in the late 1980s when he starred in a series of TV advertisements for Chrysler, challenging consumers: ‘If you can find a better car, buy it!’ 

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.  

$170 million in donations were devoted to the Ellis Island main building project alone — the largest restoration project of its kind in American history.

In 1984, he published his best-selling self-titled autobiography, which sold seven million copies. 

Link hienalouca.com

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