The visionary automaker Iacocca dies, helped create a Mustang carried by Ford, Chrysler
NEW YORK: Read Iacocca, the visionary automaker who ran the Ford Motor Company and then the Chrysler Corporation, and came to epitomize Detroit as the dream factory of America's love story with the car after the war , died Tuesday at his home in Bel Aire, California. He was 94 years old.
She had complications from Parkinson's disease, said a family spokeswoman.
In an industry that had produced legends, of giants like Henry Ford & Walter Chrysler to the birth of the assembly line & freedoms of the road that led to suburbia & the middle class, Iacocca, the son of an immigrant hotdog vendor, made history as the only executive in modern times to preside over the operations of two of the Big Three automakers.
In the 1970s & ’80s, with Detroit still dominating the nation’s automobile market, his name evoked images of executive suites, infighting, power plays & the grit & savvy to sell American cars. He was so widely admired that there was serious talk of his running for president of the US in 1988.
Detractors called him Machiavellian. huckster who clawed his way to pinnacles of power in 32 years at Ford, building flashy cars like the Mustang, making the covers of Time & New week & becoming the company president at 46, only to be spectacularly fired in 1978 by the founder’s grandson, Henry Ford II.
But admirers called him a bold, imaginative leader who landed on his feet after his dismissal and, in a 14-year second act that secured his worldwide reputation, took over the floundering Chrysler Corporation & restored it to health in what experts called one of the most brilliant turnarounds in business history.
He accomplished it with a controversial $1.5-billion federal loan guarantee, won by convincing the government that Chrysler was vital to the national economy & should not be allowed to fail, & with concessions from unions, new line-ups of cars, & a new national spokesman — himself — featured in a decade-long television advertising campaign.
If you can find a better car, buy it, the resounding Iacocca challenged the public. I'm not asking you to buy any car by faith. I want you to compare.
The guaranteed loans were paid in four years, seven years before. The company's $ 1.7 billion loss in 1980 had turned into a profit of $ 2.4 billion in 1984.