Lee Iacocca, the auto-industry titan who saved Chrysler from bankruptcy and launched the Ford Mustang, has died. Here's a look at his incredible life and career.

AP
  • Lee Iacocca, the auto-industry titan who served as CEO of Chrysler and president of Ford during a nearly 50-year career in the business, died at his Southern California home on July 2.
  • Iacocca was one of the most colourful and most celebrated car-company executives. Among other things, he is credited with saving Chrysler from bankruptcy in the 1980s.
  • Here’s a look at Iacocca’s storied life and career.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.


1924

Paul Sableman/FlickrAllentown, Pennsylvania.

Lido Anthony “Lee” Iacocca is born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, to Italian immigrant parents who operate Yocco’s Hot Dogs.

Source: Lehigh Valley Live


1945

Iacocca graduates from Lehigh University with a degree in industrial engineering. He receives his master’s degree in engineering from Princeton one year later, in 1946.

Source: The New York Times


1946

Richard Sheinwald/Associated PressLee Iacocca, left, Henry Ford II, center, and Vice Chairman of the Board Philip Caldwell, right.

Ford Motor Co. hires Iacocca as an engineer, but he soon makes the transition into sales.

Source: The Detroit News


1956

Jon Harris/Contributor/Getty ImagesIacocca and Mary McCleary are not pictured.

Iacocca marries Mary McCleary, a receptionist at a Ford Motor Co. office in Philadelphia.

Source: The Washington Post


1964

APIacocca, right, and Donald N. Frey, vice president of Ford Motor Co., in front of a 1960 Falcon, left, and a 1965 Mustang in March 1965.

Iacocca is credited with bringing the Ford Mustang onto the market. He lands several promotions at Ford after this, and within two years of the Mustang’s launch, the one-millionth example of the car rolls off the assembly line.

Source: Barron’s and Automotive News Europe


1970

PA Images/Contributor via Getty ImagesThe sporty GT-style Mach I, one of the four models in the new Mustang II line launched by Ford.

Iacocca becomes the president of Ford. He introduces the Ford Mustang II three years later, in 1973.


1978

Preston Stroup/AP PhotoFord and Iacocca in 1974.

Henry Ford II fires Iacocca, but he is hired by Chrysler four months later. Chrysler has again been on the rocks because of failed expansions, debt, skyrocketing gas prices, falling sales, and increasing international competition.

Source: NBC News


1979

Associated Press

Iacocca becomes Chrysler’s CEO.


1980

Daugherty/AP PhotoPresident Jimmy Carter and Iacocca.

President Jimmy Carter signs the Chrysler Corp. Loan Guarantee Act of 1979, which gives Chrysler $US1.5 billion in federal loans after Iacocca’s petitioning of the US government for assistance. The money helps save the struggling automaker from bankruptcy.

Iacocca also sets about cutting production costs, revamping operations, and creating a stronger advertising campaign that attracted buyers around the US. The company repays its government loan seven years early and, by 1984, pulls in more than $US2.4 billion in profit, solidifying Iacocca’s fame as an intrepid automotive executive.

Source: Bloomberg


1983

The Iacocca Family FoundationThe Iacocca Family Foundation.

Iacocca’s first wife, McCleary, dies from complications of diabetes. Iacocca later establishes the Iacocca Family Foundation to fund diabetes research.

Source: The New York Times


1983

Lenny Ignelzi/AP PhotoIacocca with the Plymouth Vager T-115.

Chrysler creates the revolutionary minivan, which lays the groundwork for the SUV.

Source: The Washington Post


1992

Lennox Mclendon/AP PhotoIacocca, left, with his Chrysler Chairman successor, Robert J. Eaton.

Iacocca retires from Chrysler and dedicates more time to his foundation. He then marries Peggy Johnson before divorcing her a year later and marrying Darrien Earle.

Source: Los Angeles Times Archives


1996

Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty ImagesIacocca and a date arriving at party hosted by Cartier.

Iacocca appears on the cover of Fortune magazine. In an extensive interview with the publication, he declares he has “flunked retirement.”

Source: Fortune


1997

Iacocca revives his career, founding EV Global Motors in 1997. “I plan to provide a range of new and exciting electric vehicles that are quiet, clean, safe, and fun,” he tells The Washington Post’s Warren Brown.

Source: The Washington Post


2007

Bennett Raglin/WireImageIacocca in 2008.

The automotive legend writes his third book, “Where Have All the Leaders Gone?”


2019

Taylor Hill/Getty ImagesIacocca in 2011.

Lee Iacocca dies from complications of Parkinson’s Disease on July 2 at the age of 94.

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