Lee Iacocca, the savior of Chrysler, father of the Ford Mustang and the minivan, and titan of the automotive industry, is dead at the age of 94 from complications stemming from Parkinson’s disease.
Iacocca’s legacy and contribution to not only the American automotive landscape but the way the world looks at cars cannot be overstated. His influence on everything from product to business practices has, for good or ill, informed the way that the car industry works today.
Lee Iacocca was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania and attended Princeton University. He enjoyed a meteoric rise to success at the Ford Motor Company, helping to create cars like the Mustang, the Escort and the Pinto until he was fired, likely due to his regular disagreements with Henry Ford II.
From there he orchestrated the first government bailout of the Chrysler corporation and saw its turnaround during the 1980s. He became something of a celebrity thanks to his appearance in ad campaigns, most notably the Chrysler campaign where he told Americans that “If you can find a better car, buy it.”
“Lee gave us a mindset that still drives us today — one that is characterized by hard work, dedication and grit,” said Fiat Chrysler representatives, in a statement. “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.”
He championed several charities during his lifetime, including the charity to raise funds for the renovation and restoration of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty and, most notably, he founded and raised considerable funds for diabetes research through his Iacocca Family Foundation.