Former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca dies at 94

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Car chief Lee Iacocca, the man who saved Chrysler from bankruptcy and helped create the Ford Mustang, passed away in California at the age of 94. He was known for his larger-than-life personality and leadership style.

Celebrity businessman Lee Iacocca passed away at the age of 94 in California on Tuesday from complications due to Parkinson’s disease, his family told US media.

Iacocca is credited with saving over 500,000 jobs by keeping the US carmaker Chrysler from going under in the 1980s.

“He played a historic role in steering Chrysler through crisis and making it a true competitive force,” Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said in a statement.

“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,” the company added.

‘If you find a better car, buy it!’

Iacocca, a son of Italian immigrants, earned his engineering degree in Lehigh University and continued his studies at Princeton.

He launched his career in 1946 at the Ford Motor Company, first as an engineer and later moving to sales. He helped create the iconic Ford Mustang and generated huge publicity for the car the company when it debuted in 1964.

He rose in the ranks of the company, but was fired by Chairman Henry Ford II in the late 1970s after their relationship became strained.

Minivan and SUV

Iacocca moved to the then-floundering Chrysler Corporation and helped steer the company out of financial trouble, helping to convince the US government to bail the company out of a potential bankruptcy in 1979.

Under his leadership, Chrysler introduced the minivan to the market and later the suburban utility vehicle (SUV).

He was well-known for appearing in television advertisements where he would point at the viewer and say: “If you find a better car, buy it!”

Iacocca stepped down from Chrysler at the end of 1992, and later in life became active in raising money to fight diabetes after his first wife died from complications of the disease.

rs, dj/jm (AP, AFP, Reuters)

DW

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