Lee Iacocca Dies at 94

The iconic Ford salesman and CEO, developer of the Mustang, and legendary CEO of Chrysler, Lee Iacocca passed at away yesterday in his Los Angeles residence. He was 94 years old and the only auto industry executive to oversee two of the Big Three brands in America. The New York Times reported that a family member of Iacocca provided the news, saying his death was due to complications with Parkinson’s disease.

Iacocca’s no BS attitude and innovative mindset will forever cement him as a titan of the auto industry and corporate leadership. His drive and smarts sent him to the highest seat at Ford before he was 50 while also being a key player in the development of the Mustang, a car that helped spawned the muscle car wars of the late ‘60s. His dismissal from Ford at the hand of Henry Ford II didn’t keep Lee down for long, as he moved over Chrysler and dug the company out of major financial crisis, a feat that is to this day still taught in schools of economics and business. Lisa Copeland, a former executive from Chrysler who worked with Iacocca had this to say about him.

“Lee Iacocca was truly one of a kind and a legend like no other in our industry. From working with two of the big three automakers and helping make cars more affordable with his “56 for 56” plan, to being largely responsible for the Mustang and minivan and leading Chrysler out of bankruptcy, which was one of the most impressive business turnarounds ever, no one will even come close to filling his shoes.”

His transparent honesty was unprecedented. He’s been documented saying, “If you can find a better car, buy it!” He was not afraid to stand by what he believed in, so much so that during his tenure at Chrysler he was the face of the brand in an ad campaign that lasted over a decade. There may be something to what Lisa Copeland said. There may never be anyone like him in the auto industry and though the landscape of business has changed drastically since his heyday, there’s a reason Iacocca’s ways are used as the mold from which many executives would like to be cast. There great ones out there, but Lee and his legacy in the industry will never die.