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American automobile executive Lee Iacocca passed away at 94 at his home in Los Angeles. He was best known for his significant role in the development of the Ford Mustang and reviving Chrysler which was on the verge of collapse in the 1980s
Lido Anthony Iacocca was born on October 15, 1924, to Italian Immigrant parents. He began his career as an engineer in Ford Motor Company in 1946. He had played a major part in the development of the Ford Mustang which sold 4,19,000 units in its first year and is now one of Americas most iconic muscle cars. He later moved to sales when one of the company’s executives noticed his marketing flair. He was fired from Ford in 1978 by Henry Ford Jr.
A year later, in 1979, he took over Chrysler Corporation. The company was on the verge of collapse, and so he led it through a strict restructuring process that included taking a $1.5 billion loan from the government. In 1983, he announced that they were repaying the government loans seven years early. But this was a short-lived victory. At the end of the decade, the company once again took a downturn, and thousands of workers were laid off. When it became profitable again in 1992, he left the firm.
In his autobiography, Iacocca explains why he adopted the name Lee in place of his Italian birth name Lido. “As part of my job, I had to make a lot of long-distance calls,” he said in his autobiography. “In those days, there was no direct dialing, so that you always had to go through an operator. They’d ask for my name, and I’d say ‘Iacocca.” Of course, they had no idea how to spell it, so there was always a struggle to get that right. Then they’d ask for my first name and when I said ‘Lido,’ they’d break out laughing. Finally, I said to myself: ‘Who needs it?’ and I started calling myself Lee.”
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said in a statement that it was saddened by the news of Iacocca’s passing.
“He played a historic role in steering Chrysler through crisis and making it a truly competitive force,” FCA 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.”