Lee Iacocca, the auto executive and master pitchman who put the Mustang in Ford’s lineup in the 1960s and became a corporate folk hero when he resurrected Chrysler 20 years later, has died in Bel Air, California.
He was 94.
Two former Chrysler executives who worked with him, Bud Liebler, the company’s former spokesman, and Bob Lutz, formerly its head of product development, said they were told of the death Tuesday by a close associate of Iacocca’s family.
In his 32-year career at Ford and then Chrysler, Iacocca helped launch some of Detroit’s best-selling and most significant vehicles, including the minivan, the Chrysler K-cars and the Ford Escort.
He also spoke out against what he considered unfair trade practices by Japanese automakers.
The son of Italian immigrants, Iacocca reached a level of celebrity matched by few auto moguls.
During the peak of his popularity in the ’80s, he was famous for his TV ads and catchy tagline: “If you can find a better car, buy it!”
He wrote two best-selling books and was courted as a presidential candidate.
With files from the Associated Press.
Mark Phelan, auto critic and columnist for the Detroit Free Press, who’s been covering the auto industry for over 30 years