A legend in the automobile industry has passed away. Lido Anthony Iacocca, the automobile industry legend best known as “Lee,” died at the age of 94 on Tuesday morning.
His family confirmed the sad news. They remembered his amazing rise to power in Detroit.
Iacocca was the child of Italian immigrants who grow up in humble conditions. He became the president of Ford Motor in December 1970.
His career hit a speed bump after he was fired by Ford after a fight with Henry Ford II. After the split with Ford, he joined Chrysler, who were struggling at the time.
"Using both his business skills and ability to turn a phrase, he won federal loan guarantees that helped the automaker avoid a potential 1980 bankruptcy," writes CNBC.
During his career, Iacocca become closely associated with at least three iconic vehicles. He was the father of the Ford Mustang and the K-Car. Iacocca also gave the go-ahead to the minivans that were the company's biggest seller.
“Lee was one of few truly great leaders,” said Bob Lutz, a longtime executive at Ford and Chrysler who worked closely with Iacocca. “He was my mentor, my teacher and role model. When he was on, he was fabulous. I will miss him.”
“I owe the second half of my career to Lee Iacocca,” Lutz said. “All in all, we had a relationship like a father and son.”
Iacocca was also involved in charity. He spearheaded efforts to restore both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, which is the immigration port in New York Harbor where his own parents came into the United States.
Iacocca was also Chrysler’s TV pitchman. He was known for his phrase, “If you can find a better car, buy it.”
His daughter Lia Iacocca Assad said Lee Iacocca died of natural causes, but that he suffered from complications from Parkinson’s Disease. He is survived by two daughters and eight grandchildren.