Automotive Pioneer & Legend Lee Iacocca Passes Away at 94 Years Old

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Lee Iacocca

Lee Iacocca may be known as the ‘Father of the Mustang,’ but he also saved Chrysler and brought Jeep back onto American soil.

Although we are about to reach one of the most celebrated days in the U.S., this week has been marred with some sad news. Automotive legend and visionary, Lee Iacocca, died yesterday morning on Tuesday, July 2, 2019 at the age of 94. Lee’s effect on American engineering and the automotive business on a global scale cannot be understated. His presence will definitely be missed among his extended family within the automotive world.

Lee’s achievements are seemingly countless and expand over the course of several decades. He is very well known for saving Chrysler in the early ’80s after the brand nearly disappeared from the market entirely. The company was nearly $1.7 billion in debt in 1980 and that had miraculously turned into $2.4 billion in profit by 1984. In 1987, Jeep as a brand at this time was owned by American Motors Corporation, a subsidiary of Renault in the U.S. and Lee wanted to see if Jeep could get back into American hands.

Lee Iacocca

Although advised to go against this $1.5 billion dollar acquisition simply for the purpose of stealing back Jeep, Lee wasn’t a man to easily say no and he always trusted his instincts first. After purchasing American Motors Corporation, Chrysler acquired the Jeep brand, which would soon lead to be one of the company’s largest financial profits.

Iacocca

Chrysler under Iacocca began marketing the Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, and Wrangler to suburban middle-class families and it worked stunningly. Fast forward several decades into the present and Jeep is now a brand sold and recognized worldwide. It is also stated that the Jeep name is worth more than Fiat-Chrysler as a whole company from a market value.

Iacocca

FCA issued a statement following Iacocca’s death:

: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. 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.

Lee gave us a mindset that still drives us today – one that is characterized by hard work, dedication and grit. We are committed to ensuring that Chrysler, now FCA, is such a company, an example of commitment and respect, known for excellence as well as for its contribution to society. His legacy is the resiliency and unshakeable faith in the future that live on in the men and women of FCA who strive every day to live up to the high standards he set.”

Essentially, if you had a company that was a couple billion dollars in debt and you needed somebody to save it, Lee Iacocca was your man. His vision always cut through the industry fluff like no other individual to this day. His legacy is undeniable and we are glad that we shaped the culture the way he did. Enzo Ferrari once supposedly stated “Jeep is America’s only real sports car.” You can thank Lee for that one.

Photos: Fiat-Chrysler

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Daud Gonzalez is a lifelong car enthusiast, and automotive writer with a specialty in modified and race-ready rides. Gonzalez is a regular contributor to the Internet Brands Auto Group websites, including Corvette Forum, 6SpeedOnline, and Honda-tech, among others.

He spends most of his time modifying his cars, and ruining them in the process. He is the owner of a track build BMW 335i, a semi-off road spec 1981 Toyota Hilux, a drift-ready 1990 Nissan 240sx and a 1990 BMW K75 motorcycle.

Most of his free-time is dedicated to making sure his vehicles survive to see the next day. You are likely to catch him at one of Southern California's race tracks on the weekends.

Daud can be reached at [email protected]

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