Upon his return, he realised that his forte was not engineering, but marketing.
Iacocca became president of Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford in 1970. In 1995, Iacocca sued the company accusing it of illegally preventing him from exercising stock options. He was sacked from Ford after a scandal involving the Pinto's exploding fuel tank came to light. The fact the Mustang lives on - surviving the nearly entire SUV takeover of Ford's USA range - suggests his team absolutely nailed it.
- Iacocca quickly rose through the ranks and was made Ford president in 1964.
Lee Iacocca was also instrumental in launching other cars like the Ford Maverick - a compact auto with a four-cylinder engine built to compete with imports from Honda and Toyota. Chrysler, which averted collapse in 1980 in what may have been Iacocca's crowning achievement, was buffeted by the financial crisis and recession of 2008, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April 2009.
Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Cox Automotive's Autotrader, said Iacocca was "a giant in the automotive business and the American stage".
With this ethos, Iacocca contributed to a $2 billion profit for Ford in 1978, but constant disagreements with chairman Henry Ford II led to his dismissal that year, and he joined an ailing Chrysler just as the brand had sold its European division to Peugeot in an effort to reduce losses.
As of now, there are no plans for a local memorial, however, according to a statement from Dianna C. Gutierrez with FCA, the two-story Pentastar window atop the Chrysler headquarters will be lit in tribute to Iacocca. In 1983, seven years earlier than required, Chrysler finished repaying the $1.2 billion in government-backed loans it had used. But more so, he's also credited for single-handedly saving Chrysler from bankruptcy in the 1980s by introducing the company's popular K-Car platform.
During his lifetime, he was a major figure at two of the biggest automakers in the world.
His rise within Ford was meteoric and his 'cunning, ingenuity and swagger made him one of the most successful salesmen of his generation, ' The Washington Post said.
Iacocca cemented his reputation with a best-selling book "Iacocca: An Autobiography", published in 1984. In addition, Iacocca is remembered for his work to restore the Statue of Liberty and historic Ellis Island, the first stop for many immigrants to the United States.
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