Lee Iacocca, who created the iconic Ford Mustang, saved Chrysler from bankruptcy, had the foresight to buy the struggling American Motors when nobody else would touch it (because of the potential he saw of the Jeep brand) and masterminded the birth of one of the wildest Italian supercars ever the Lamborghini Diablo, has died aged 94.
Born in 1924 to Italian immigrant parents in Pennsylvania, he started his career as an engineer at Ford in the mid Forties and then moved to sales and marketing for which he displayed a natural flair. His place in motoring history was cemented in’64 when he created the Mustang. It sold 419,000 units in its first year and would go on to become the most iconic car in the US.
After being fired in a dispute with company heir Henry Ford II, Lee moved to Chrysler in ’79 when the company was on the brink of going bust but he led it through a restructuring process (it included taking a $1.5 billion government bailout and the loans were repaid seven years early thanks to the success of the fuel efficient K-cars lineup and minivans). His TV ads were very popular - and mostly for his brash tag line, “If you can find a better car, buy it.”
Following his departure from the firm in ’92 his latter years were spent doing charity work which included spearheading the restoration of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island - the immigration port in New York Harbor where his own parents came into the US.
Lee succumbed to complications from Parkinson’s disease at his home in Los Angeles.