ReutersLOS ANGELES (Reuters) — Lee Iacocca, the charismatic U.S. auto industry executive who gave America the Ford Mustang and was celebrated for saving Chrysler from going out of business, has died at the age of 94, Fiat Chrysler said.
Iacocca died Tuesday at his home in Bel-Air, Calif., of complications from Parkinson’s disease, his daughter Lia Iacocca Assad told the Washington Post.
“The company is saddened by the news of Lee Iacocca’s passing. 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 said.
During a nearly five-decade career in Detroit that began in 1946 at Ford Motor Co., the proud son of Italian immigrants made the covers of Time, Newsweek and the New York Times Sunday Magazine in stories portraying him as the avatar of the American Auto Age. One of the first celebrity U.S. chief executives, his autobiography made best-seller lists in the mid-1980s.
Iacocca was a cracker-jack salesman. He encouraged his design teams to be bold, and they responded with sports cars that appealed to baby boomers in the 1960s, fuel-efficient models when gasoline prices soared in the 1970s, and the first-ever family-oriented minivan in the 1980s that led its segment in sales for 25 years.
“I don’t know an auto executive that I’ve ever met who has a feel for the American consumer the way he does,” late United Auto Workers Union President Douglas Fraser had said. “He’s the greatest communicator who’s ever come down the pike in the history of the industry.”Speech