By on July 3, 2019

fca

It’s seldom spoken of publicly, but every writer keeps in the back of his or her mind an obituary they hope to never pen. In this keyboard jockey’s case, that obit would be the one you’re reading now.

Tuesday night brought word that Lee Iacocca — era-defining auto executive, marketer extraordinaire, outspoken patriot and critic — passed away at the age of 94. Lia Iacocca Assad says her father died of complications from Parkinson’s disease at his Bel-Air, California home, The Washington Post reports.

From Fiat Chrysler comes this statement:

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.

Iacocca personified the American Dream. And who would claim otherwise? Born in Pennsylvania’s coal country in 1924 to hot dog-selling Italian immigrant parents, Iacocca’s journey saw him rise through the ranks at Ford Motor Company, where he started as an engineer a year after VE Day. Eventually, after becoming vice president of the Ford division in 1960, Iacocca became a father… to the hot, youthful Ford Mustang — a segment-creating model crafted from the thrifty bones of Robert McNamara’s sensible but sexless Falcon.

The value-priced pony car was born, just in time for early Baby Boomers to earn their license.

Ford

You all know the story, but it’s a tale worth retelling. Impressing (and stressing) Ford CEO and chairman Henry Ford II throughout the 1960s, Iacocca had a hand in creating what was arguably the most luxurious and refined mass-market personal luxury coupe in postwar America: the Continental Mk. III, a model that emerged a year before Iacocca moved into the president’s office.

From that point on, the story becomes one of decline and rebirth, both for Iacocca and the American auto industry. Hammered by the rising popularity of Japanese and German imports, rising interest rates, a free-falling economy, serious quality control issues (of which Ford was most certainly guilty), and an ornery OPEC, U.S. auto fortunes fell like national pride as the ’70s wore on. Henry Ford II finally had enough of Iacocca in 1978, axing him just as a rival Detroit company went in search of a savior.

Baroque, antiquated models and looming bankruptcy menaced Chrysler Corporation at the end of the decade, so the ailing automaker decided to page Dr. Iacocca for a dose of penny-pinching triage. After securing a loan guarantee from Congress, Chrysler’s European business soon fell under Iacocca’s axe, as did a raft of slow-selling models (is it time for an R-body renaissance yet?). Under Iacocca, Chrysler cut overhead, plugged the leaks, and sought out revenue from a stable of just-right-for-our-times vehicles built around a compact, front-drive architecture. Cheap, roomy, and blessed with economies of scale and proportions specifically tailored for easy transport, the K-platform cars multiplied like amorous bunnies, soon giving birth to a new segment: the minivan.

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As interest rates, pump prices, and fashion tastes waned in the ’80s, Chrysler had invested itself so deeply in front-drive that the company seemed incapable of turning back. And thus we received “sporty” cars that, in most cases, were hardly sporty — though Carroll Shelby tried his best to inject some turbocharged thrills into the lineup. A major coup in the latter part of the decade was the acquisition of the Jeep brand, saddled as it was with the remnants of AMC… and its Renault children. The Eagle brand briefly soared.

Iacocca’s time as chairman and CEO came to an end in 1992, when the exec, in his last television commercial, spoke of hitting a homerun: the company’s looming line of “cab-forward,” LH-platform front-drive sedans. The exec’s corporate twilight years also saw the return of outlandish muscle to the Chrysler fold in the form of the Dodge Viper. And who can forget the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s smashing debut at the 1992 Detroit auto show?

And yet it’s not Iacocca the Exec that this writer thinks of as he types these words — it’s Iacocca the Showman. It’s the man who tricked Time and Newsweek into running front-page stories on the new 1964(1/2) Mustang, each thinking that they were sitting on a big scoop. It’s the man who brushed aside glitzy marketing and polished actors to pitch his new K cars directly to the public, telling a weary populace, “If you can find a better car, buy it.”

It’s the man who took to the airwaves time and again, year after year, to bluntly tell buyers his company had been “kicked in the head,” before promising them a new kind of driving experience. The kind that gave buyers an advantage (your mileage will vary).

While it’s extremely debatable that buying a Plymouth Acclaim was a better decision than taking home a Honda Accord, that’s not the point — at the height of his fame, Iacocca could sell U.S. war bonds to an SS tank commander.

It’s no wonder he appeared in an episode of Miami Vice and, in name only, RoboCop.

As a friend once said, Iacocca was born for the role. After all, his name was an acronym for his job title (“I Am Chairman of Chrysler Corporation America”). The kind of frank talk he delivered at press Q&As, perhaps the most famous being when he spoke of the difficulty of selling Jeeps in Japan (“They saw a lot of Jeeps in World War II and the like, so they know what the hell they are”), would lead to scandalized headlines in today’s easily outraged media environment. It’s what ingratiated him to haters of carefully scripted PR, even though his braggadocious commercials were exactly that. It’s why we mourned former FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne last summer, and it’s why we mourn today.

Books and personal projects followed Iacocca’s time at Chrysler, as did appearances that became fewer and fewer as age caught up. He returned to the pitchman role in 2005 alongside Snoop Dog, decked out in similar golf attire as when he portrayed Parks Commissioner Lido in that famously tasteless Don Johnson vehicle. Sadly, it was all too clear during a 2013 episode of Jay Leno’s Garage that the industry titan would soon exit this world, leaving it a duller, less animated place.

Forever folksy, forever outspoken, and possessing the flaws and bravado that — whether you like it or not — made America the place it is today, Lee Iacocca was one of a kind. Like the singer whose name graced a particularly troublesome early ’80s luxury coupe, Lido Anthony Iacocca did it his way.

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[Images: Ford, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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91 Comments on “If You Can Find a Better CEO: Industry Icon, Chrysler Savior Lee Iacocca Dead at 94...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’ve owned several products developed – or later inspired – under his leadership at Ford and Chrysler.

    The Pinto (71, 76), LeBaron GTS (85), and Grand Voyager/Caravan (96, 98) were all good (or good enough) for their time and my station in life when I had them, providing many good memories.

    Agreed, Sergio was made in Iacocca’s image, and leaders like them are hard to come by today.

    RIP, Lee.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Lee Iaccoca was one of the best all time CEOs of any manufacturing firm/automaker, and a great human being.

    RIP Lee.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    One of the greatest auto-guys in history, I’ll bet he and a few Fords who have gone before are duking it out as we speak ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Yup. I can see Lee and Henry Ford II sparring. Assuming they ended up in the same place. HF2 was the guy who fired Lee, telling him, we just don’t like you. He at least realized what Lee had done for Ford, and the severance package was generous.

      • 0 avatar
        namesakeone

        I actually remember that Iacocca was quite congenial when HFII passed in 1987 (?), noting “We were friends a lot longer than we were adversaries.” (Quote approximate.)

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Well, what’s the story I always heard that once Iacocca took over at Chrysler he bought a Ford mansion and proceeded to bulldoze it just because he could. Is that just an urban legend?

  • avatar
    The_Guru

    RIP greatness. More to never be replaced.

  • avatar
    pragmatic

    From

    A 56 for 56
    to
    if you can find a better car buy it

    he knew how to market

  • avatar
    NoID

    One of the greatest, and by all accounts a decent human being. A time or two I’ve wondered what an Iacocca presidency would have been like.

    Sir, you will be missed.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Your comment popped into my mind as I read the story. I always had a soft spot for him, as one who followed the auto industry since 1979. The right person at the right time. Unlike the unmitigated disaster we have today, this man who eschews “scripted PR” might have been able to pull it off on both the business side and human side.

      My college ride – 72 Fury, was nicknamed “The Iacocca”; because it was from the era before him, I contemplated getting plates that read “PRE-LEE”

      Goodbye to a legend. Hope you enjoyed the ride. If only he was able to get the K and its derivatives to match Japanese assembly quality – perhaps even too much of a lift for him in that primitive assembly era.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

      “I’ve wondered what an Iacocca presidency would have been like.”

      The possibilities are both exciting and depressing to contemplate. Imagine… a patriotic Democrat who espoused the value of hard work and establishing your own path versus reliance on others – a rarity even then, and damn near revelatory today – who could have broken the Bush dynasty before it began.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        He was spoken of as a possible Democratic candidate, only to quietly remind people he was a Republican.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          He was a Republican that this moderately left-of-center Democrat would have been proud to vote, and even campaign for.

          • 0 avatar
            Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

            Thank you both for the correction. To think all this time I considered Iacocca much as golden2husky does, but in reverse: a Dem I would have been proud to support.

  • avatar
    markmeup

    Quite a man. Quite a life. Thanks for everything!

    Without you… no Mark III (gorgeous), and I wouldn’t even be driving my beloved 300S today.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Mustang, don’t forget the Mustang, that car alone gives Iacocca a permanent place in automotive history

      • 0 avatar
        markmeup

        +1 yessum. And I’d never forget his game-changing and iconic Mustang. I personally just happen to be a bigger fan of the Mark Series is all.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          In my younger days my fantasy garage contained a Mustang and a Mark

          • 0 avatar
            markmeup

            very nice! curious, what MY would’ve been for each of the two.

            on the Mark: i love my Mother, but will never forgive her for selling off (against my long-term perma instruction and wish)… her purchased-new, fully-loaded,37K miles 1989 Lincoln Mark VII LSC I wanted that in my garage next to the ’79 Cadillac.(and still do) Grrr

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      That Mark III concept was birthed with this utterance attributed to Iococca:

      “Take the T-Bird and put a Rolls-Royce grille on it.”

  • avatar
    iNeon

    FCA need to install small black Pentastars on rocker panels for this man.

    I haven’t found a better car yet, Mr. Lee.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    RIP. Lee – I’ll give my Mustang an extra rev or two today in your memory.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    Part of the reason that Iacocca left Ford was that his proposal for what would become the minivan fell on deaf ears.

    The Mustang, the minivan, the invention of cash-on-the-hood, his stewardship of the restoration of the Statue of Liberty, he had more good ideas and real effect on the industry (and elsewhere) than anyone of his generation.

    RIP Lee.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Cash on the Hood was a Chrylser “innovation” but when that happened Lido was still making cars that sold like hotcakes w/o cash on the hood, ie the Granada.

      • 0 avatar
        pragmatic

        56 for a 56 was the marketing move that set him on his way at Ford. Ford was last in Philly and financing cars was not where it is now. As head of Philly region he pushed 1956 cars, 20% down three year loan for $56 a month (get a 56 for 56). Ford moved from last to first, McNamara promoted him to a national job and they took the campaign nationwide. His advertising was credited with increasing Ford sales by 75,000 units that year.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Lido was to the car industry
    as
    Trump is to politics.

    Brazen
    Unapologetic
    Dam the torpedos
    A force for desperately needed change.

    • 0 avatar
      markmeup

      That description right there just brought a couple other iconic men to mind…

      Ronald Wilson Reagan & Bill Mitchell

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      ” A force for desperately needed change.”

      until he got old. then he desperately clung to relics of a bygone era, insisting that Chrysler continue churning out archaic, stodgy boats with padded landau roofs, upright grilles, (faux) wire wheels, and pillowy interiors.

      huh. Just like the Boomers are now.

      and then, of course, remember he’s responsible for sealing Chrysler’s fate by pushing for Eaton to replace him thanks to his dislike of Bob Lutz.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        He’s dead Jim…no need to knock his later failings. We are car people and he is responsible for some great ones as well as keeping a brand alive.

        • 0 avatar
          markmeup

          +1!!

          “he’s dead jim” >> (“i’m just an old country doctor. not a brick layer”) ha!

          • 0 avatar
            SilverCoupe

            My thoughts went right to the Horta too!
            A silicon creature in the days before Silicon Valley.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Well, he brought Chrysler back from the dead, and when he left in 1992, he’d set up the company for the next five years. By 1997, Chrysler was selling almost 3 million cars, made a $6 billion profit, and had $15 billion cash for new models.

          Then Bob Eaton, chosen Chairman over Bob Lutz, sold it all off to Daimler. Iacocca’s final act, which he later admitted was a mistake, was choosing the wrong Bob.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Yup!

      RIP!

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Iacocca said “”I hire people brighter than me and then I get out of their way.” That seems to be the exact opposite approach of the current POTUS.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      “I know Trump fairly well. Now that’s an ego that’s gone screw-loose, gone haywire. What the business establishment of this country has to do is get away from this new financial-transaction mentality. It used to be that Wall Street, the financial markets and the banks were there to promote and fund the companies that produced goods and created jobs. Now they’ve taken on a life of their own: “What’s the play? Where can we make a fast buck?” What we really need to do in this country is get back to the factory floors.”

      – Lee Iaccoca, 1991

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        Keep in mind that you’re pulling a remark from a time when Iaccoca was an Italian Catholic Republican who had spent his career fighting for respect from WASP Democrats who undermined him whenever possible. Trump was a Democrat who loved to demonstrate his progressive bona fides by promoting African Americans, gays and women whenever possible. It was not too far from the time Iaccoca doomed Chrysler to failure by selecting panty-waist, boot-licking Bob Eaton over Bob Lutz, who was as egotistical as Lido or Donald.

        • 0 avatar
          Maymar

          It’s the only remark I could find, so it certainly doesn’t seem like Lee ever came back around on Trump (even though, as you say, he was a Republican).

          Although, if he had ulterior motives in his dislike of Trump, I’d guess it’s more likely from a real estate deal the pair went in on in Palm Beach in the 80’s. Either way, I’m not sure Iacocca would appreciate being compared to Trump in memorial.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          “Iaccoca was an Italian Catholic Republican who had spent his career fighting for respect from WASP Democrats who undermined him whenever possible.”

          Huh, what? I think you’ve got that backwards, Italian Catholics are traditionally Democrats (Think Kennedy Irish Catholics) and WASPS are traditionally Republicans (Think Rockefeller)

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            I made a statement of fact. You regurgitated propaganda. Lee Iaccoca was a Republican. He said it himself. Henry Ford II was a liberal who supported Democrat presidential candidates. You would be better off with amnesia than having your head filled with the things you think you know. In other news, the Democrats are the party of slavery, the KKK, Jim Crow, and LBJ who said things I can’t write here about his strategy to put blacks back on the plantation, which he then executed successfully. #walkaway

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “You regurgitated propaganda.”

            Your comment wasn’t very nice, nothing I said wasn’t true nor was it mean spirited. I’m in too good of a mood today to put up with the likes of you. You have a wonderful day searching for someone to hate, I’m sure you’ll succeed

            Have a great 4th! :)

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            Dopn’t sweat it L2M ~

            All TAF1 ever does is regurgitate alt right propaganda ~ remember, he recently bragged that Conservatism includes lying, hate, lack of civility and basic manners, intolerance, unfairlness, iniquity and division, voter suppression, along with cowardice, racism and the rest of the things the gop is and has been staunchly supportive of or does then cowardly lies about and tries do clam the dnc (another PAC I dislike) are the ones who embrace said un American values…

            SMH .

            Pretending to believe a lie only shows your inherent cowardice and dishonesty .

            Talk about snowflakes ! .

            -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Thanks, nice of you to say :)

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            “All TAF1 ever does is regurgitate alt right propaganda ~ remember, he recently bragged that Conservatism includes lying, hate, lack of civility and basic manners, intolerance, unfairlness, iniquity and division, voter suppression, along with cowardice, racism and the rest of the things the gop is and has been staunchly supportive of or does then cowardly lies about and tries do clam the dnc (another PAC I dislike) are the ones who embrace said un American values…

            SMH .

            Pretending to believe a lie only shows your inherent cowardice and dishonesty .”

            You should try to find a higher grade of glue to sniff, as your grasp on reality can no longer even be described as tenuous. A link to anything I said to support your claims would be nice.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Shame on you for comparing Lido to trump

  • avatar
    RedRocket

    Iacocca was great in his heyday, not just for the Mustang which he promoted the hell out of, but also for getting along with HFII for as long as he did – though he might have orchestrated Bunkie Knudsen’s firing which led to him taking over the Ford presidency. But HFII was a tough guy to work for and the end was inevitable. Lee’s promoter skills served him well early on at Chrysler as did him bringing over a number of discontented Ford execs to revitalize the place. His rococo style instincts were out of fashion by the time he left though, and his alliance with Kirk Kerkorian to do a hostile takeover of Chrysler prior to the Daimler debacle in the late ’90s did not make him many friends. Still and all, though, a remarkable executive. It would have been interesting if he had run for President, but I don’t think he would have been able to put up with the political mindset.

    RIP, Lee. You were one of the greats of the industry.

  • avatar

    Back in 1985 I was in need of a new car. The 72 Charger I had was looking at an overhaul and, for whatever reason, I decided against doing that work and to purchase something newer. The dealer I bought the 72 from happened to have an used 84 Shelby on his lot. I had admired the look of the TC3s and 024s and, well, this was another “Charger”. Being motivated to send a letter to Chrysler about my 72 – it had well over 250,000 on it – I told them I was looking at this 84 as a suitable replacement, looking forward to comparable longevity.

    Some time later I received a hand signed letter from Iacocca himself encouraging me to buy a new 85 instead of the 84. Money wise it was not possible, at least in my mind. The dealer, who was also a friend of mine, stopped me the next time he saw me and asked if I had, indeed, written a letter to Iacocca. Evidently, Mr. Iacocca had called the dealer directly to encourage him to see to my needs. The dealer told me at that time that Iacocca was known to personally reply to all correspondence of the type I had sent. That made an positive impression on me as a customer. From reading the article, I am even more convinced that Iacocca was that kind of guy – more approachable than expected and down to business.

    I did actually get nearly double the miles out of that 84 – 405,000+. It worked for me at the time and was a fun ride.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Got to work today but I’ll sure be thinking of him when I take the 67 Mustang for a spin this weekend.

    Making that out of the Falcon platform was certainly a way to make some hay while the sun was shining. Grandma’s car (Falcon) and the hottest ticket in town (Mustang) sharing much of their underpinnings.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Wasn’t Mr. Iacocca responsible for the Ford line of Econoline vans as well ? .

    Truly a great man, he will be missed .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I will never forget the TV ads touting the 7 year/70,000 mile warranty. Iococca knew Chrysler had burned many of its earlier customers with krap quality cars, and this warranty provided the extra assurance buyers needed.

    –US Hyundai, after its poor Excel product in the late 80’s similarly poisoned the well. The Koreans copied Iococca’s playbook with their 10 year/ 100kmile warranty, which certainly saved US Hyundai just as it saved Chrysler.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Here is another great article today, over at the Hemmings Daily blog, including excerpts from a 2012 interview by Jim Donnelly for Hemmings Classic Car:

    https://www.hemmings.com/blog/2019/07/03/lee-iacocca-1924-2019/

    I expect Peter M. DeLorenzo will have something pithy over at The Autoextremist next week. Today there’s just a note, under “On The Table”.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Owned one of the K-car derivatives back in college (bought a 1985 Lancer GTS) and loved it. Gun metal blue/grey with those super sport buckets. Sure, the manual transmission was a bit, um, industrial, but for a college kid, having that car was golden. It was, to this day, one of the cars I owned the longest…and that says something.

    They may not have been fancy, but the K-cars saved Chrysler and were right for the times.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Likewise, my 85 LeBaron GTS is the car I drove the most and had the longest (12 years). It was the 5-spd non-turbo. Got it at 56k miles, and traded it at 206k miles.

      I still consider it to be one of my favorite cars I’ve owned. Chrysler got the styling just right on them.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      We had two F body Chryslers after Dad was pleased with my used 1974 Plymouth Fury II and the dealership he worked with. So he bought my sister a Reliant K wagon. He was so pleased with them that he bought two more Reliant wagons for myself and my sister.

      They were such a revelation from our previous Chryslers. They felt tinny compared to the previous battleships; but they had the same interior space, handled like go-carts; and got twice the mileage. I remember making regular trips through the interior, tightening the interior trim with a screwdriver; but otherwise it gave good service.

      The 1990 Dodge Spirit I bought was even better. Gone was the trim that needed constant tightening; and it did not feel nearly as flimsy as the Reliants felt. We keep it for 15 years, and racked over 200,000 miles on it before we sold it, still in running condition. The odometer broke, it needed a new radiator, and the gas gauge was off by a quarter of a tank, all could have been fixed, but it wasn’t worth it at that point because it was redundant.

      It also suffered paint failure; a really problem with some colors in that day and age. Chrysler refused to fix it; the dealer finally agreed to hoping I would buy a new car from them later. I kept it longer than the dealer stayed in business.

      I almost purchased a Ford Taurus instead of the Spirit; but it cost a few thousand more, so I passed on it. Driving my Mom and Dad’s later, it was clearly a better car; but the K-Cars and their derivatives were the right cars for the times; they were a far cry from the ones that proceeded them, they ushered in the mini-van (and I think few did it better), and they gave most owners good service.

      Thank you for the reminder about the Statue of Liberty, I had forgotten about that. And thank you Mr. Iacocca for that.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    In order to be a successful business person, you generally need only one great idea in your lifetime.

    Iacocca had more than one. The Mustang, creating the pony car segment. The Lincoln ‘Marks’. The ‘Magic Wagon’ creating in North America the mini-van market. The K-cars from which the platform for the Magic Wagon was derived. The ‘cab forward’ LH platforms. The partnership/branding with Carol Shelby. The acquisition of the Jeep brand. The Viper. The increased warranty (remember the Chrysler ‘Gold Key’? The CEO as corporate spokesperson.

    Perhaps more ‘sizzle than steak’ in the execution/marketing but still a remarkable record.

  • avatar
    geo

    Iacocca may have saved Chrysler, but he also doomed Chrysler by appointing Eaton to succeed him (because he didn’t like Lutz personally). Of course, Eaton quickly sold out to Daimler, which gutted the company of its talent and product, and introduced us to the most craptastic interiors of the new millennium.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Most influential person in the business of the last 60 years. A true legend.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Had Ford listened to Iaccoca and got the minivan instead of Chrysler — what would the automotive landscape look like today.

    A Hell of a leader, a Hell of a man, a Hell of a CEO. Not many like him left in the world.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Minivans would have immediately become synonymous with rollovers, because they’d have been teetering around on Tempo components.

      I see Iaccoca as having a fair amount in common with Carlos Ghosn. He was remarkably good at his job of keeping the lights on at the factories and the cash register ringing, but he did it with products that were at best mediocre. When Lee Iaccoca started having an impact on the market as a whole, American cars were the undisputed best in the world. Massively successful cynical crap like the Mustang and MKIII set Detroit on course to being of only regional interest.

    • 0 avatar
      EGSE

      “Had Ford listened to Iaccoca and got the minivan instead of Chrysler — what would the automotive landscape look like today.”

      My WAG……no Chrysler (or FCA) today. Back in that time one of the financial mags like Forbes stated that the Chrysler minivan franchise was as close to an annuity as an auto manufacturer ever had. It pulled Chrysler back from the grave’s edge and allowed them to retire the loan guarantees seven years early.

      I wonder if Henry Ford II ever admitted his error in turning that program down.

  • avatar
    Steve Lynch

    A huge loss.

    My father owned the first 1964 Mustang in our small midwestern town and no car I have ever owned or borrowed since- not early NSX, AMGs, etc – created more of a sensation than that blue 6-cylinder coupe. Wherever you stopped or parked, a crowd would gather. My family has rarely been without a Mustang since and like Principal Dan, I will take our 68 K-Code coupe out for a spin today in remembrance of the great Lido…

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Lynch

      Oops, meant to say J-Code, before any Mustang historians correct me!

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        lol mine is “C” (V8 – 2 barrel) and my Grandfather supposedly had a K-code engine in his possession at one point but being the super practical Midwesterner he was sold the engine (it was strapped to a crate) and left the original engine in the car.

      • 0 avatar
        macmcmacmac

        I wonder if Lee blew a gasket when he found out the traveling demo Mustang had mistakenly been sold to an airline pilot in Newfoundland?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Iacocca was one of the greatest Auto CEOs and so was Sergio. Iacocca actually loved cars and cared about the product and the company. Today most corporation leadership is like Ford and GM–gut the company and get a golden parachute who cares about the product. No wonder there is so much distrust of most leaders whether they are in the business or political world.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    No mention of Iacocca’s death on the National or local news, seems Colin Kaepernick and Nike are more important especially since the original Stars and Stripes are now considered a symbol of racism. The media is more liberal than I thought that they cannot cover such a great influential man maybe they were afraid the Greenies would protest any mention of Iacocca. Nightly Business Report on PBS at least mentioned Iacocca’s death.

    • 0 avatar

      The young new directors today don’t have the sense of history or attention span to realize the importance of Iacocca. They have blurred the line between news and entertainment.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I guess Jeff hasn’t heard of that new thing called Google. I searched “Lee Iacocca dead” and got over 12 million results.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I was pleasantly surprised when I brought up Mr. Iacocca’s passing to my wife she actually knew who he was. Given that she was born in 1983 and is as far from a “car person” as anyone in my immediate orbit (other than her passion for the manual trans and vowing she’ll own a Corvette one day.)

        I think that speaks to the man’s cultural impact.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          He was an industry titan you don’t have to be a “car guy” to know who the movers and shakers were of the 20th century, he also wrote a best seller. I know who Coco Chanel is and I wouldn’t know a “pill box” hat if I fell on one :)

  • avatar
    dusterdude

    A true bold visionary that is extremely rare … RIP Lee

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    As Snoop Dogg could have said, “If the CEO is more fire, then you must hire.”

  • avatar

    People don’t realize that in their time the K-cars were a lot better than the dreadful GM X-cars. In comparison the K-cars were reliable, understated, and did not have the terrible recalls of the Citation. The K-car is one of the reasons FCA is around today selling tons of Jeeps.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Well, comparing ANYTHING to the X-cars counts as faint praise, but yeah, the K-cars were decent for their time.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        However if you give me a choice between an A-body FWD GM and a K-car I’d pick the A-body (year for year) unless the K-car was a turbo model then I might just want to take it out and beat it like a rented mule.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Lol, I had a turbo K-car, mule is a good name for it, because it was about as fast

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            K-Cars were finem then and now .

            Like everything else MoPar they were different. love or hate ’em they were fine .

            I have a friend who bought a Chrysler K-Car rag top, I was surprised but it was in fact a fine little car for a family man who wanted a reliable flop top to take his wife and kids around in .

            After a few years he (IMO) wised up and bought a A body Plymouth rag top, cruder but again IMO, a vastly better touring car that also can be a daily driver , comfy and easy to drive .

            Economical too .

            -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I had a LeBaron convertible, because I wanted a convertible so bad and most all the other 4-place convertibles were too expensive. It was slow and kind of junky, but I had a blast with it for the while I had it

            K-cars served their purpose and were the right car at the right time. It was the minivan that came off that platform that was the real game changer for Chrysler

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I didn’t mention Google because it is not Network TV News. Yes you can Google but Google is more an information source than a news source.

    Nightly Business Report had a nice story on Iacocca which covered his time at Ford and his rescue of Chrysler.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I agree that information sources like Google and all social media, are NOT news sources. They don’t report news. They present news with their own unique spin, slant and/or bias.

      And that’s a real shame since the real news lies somewhere in between the polar opposite extremes presented to the consumers/readers by way of their information sources (streaming, satellite, cable, and/or local TV stations.)

      Good source for news, and nothing but the news, is Newsy TV (Dishnetwork chan 283) or newsy.com if you want to “Be informed, not influenced.”

      I did see the NBR segment on Lee Iaccoca yet I also think that the material used was understated, muted, and not all-encompassing of the effect that Mr Iaccoca had on the US and Global auto industry and individual employees and customers.

      Love or hate Ford and/or Chrysler of Iaccoca’s days, the effect of his vision for the auto industry way back then was like a 7.1 earthquake that can still be felt (and driven) today, except so much more refined.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Agree I would like to have seen a more encompassing story on Iacocca but at least NBR had a story. The major TV networks didn’t even mention Iacocca’s death. Maybe some of the greenies would have objected. Iacocca was one of the last great industrial leaders besides autos. I read his books and listened to his audio of his book “Where Have All the Leaders Gone” which was narrated in his own voice. Basically Iacocca stated we have no real leaders whether it be in business or government.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I remember. Waaaaaay back in 1980 (and beyond) when I was doing my Graduate work for my MBA, we had to study business and financial leaders of the past, compare & contrast them with the leaders of the here and now (1980s), and what leadership qualities we (the students) would need to assume the helm in the future.

      Lively discussions among the various work groups in those classes, whether they’d be Mgt, Finance, Econ, Org Behavior, Bus Ethics, etc. You know the drill.

      The accuracy of Iaccoca’s predictions were realized beginning with the summer of 2007 as the lack of leadership in the financial markets took its toll on America and the world, and the actual working people paying their hard-earned taxes had to bail out and refinance what the lack of management, leadership and vision had wrought on America.

      Lack of leadership. Lack of foresight.

      Were I a betting man, my money would be on Toyota to be the leader in the global automotive industry.

      What the Hell? What am I saying?

      Toyota already IS the leader of the global automotive industry!

  • avatar
    JoeBrick

    Lee Iacocca has final ride in Chrysler hearse.
    https://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/autos/2019/07/10/chrysler-ceo-lee-iacocca-funeral/1657942001/


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