Lee Iacocca
Overview
 
Lido Anthony "Lee" Iacocca (icon ; born October 15, 1924) is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 businessman
Businessperson
A businessperson is someone involved in a particular undertaking of activities for the purpose of generating revenue from a combination of human, financial, or physical capital. An entrepreneur is an example of a business person...

 known for engineering the Mustang, the unsuccessful Ford Pinto, being fired from Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company is an American multinational automaker based in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. The automaker was founded by Henry Ford and incorporated on June 16, 1903. In addition to the Ford and Lincoln brands, Ford also owns a small stake in Mazda in Japan and Aston Martin in the UK...

, and his revival of the Chrysler
Chrysler
Chrysler Group LLC is a multinational automaker headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA. Chrysler was first organized as the Chrysler Corporation in 1925....

 Corporation in the 1980s. He served as President and CEO of Chrysler from 1978 and additionally as chairman from 1979, until his retirement at the end of 1992.

One of the most famous business people in the world, Iacocca was a passionate advocate of U.S.
Quotations

We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, "Stay the course." Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic.

Where Have All the Leaders Gone? (2007), Scribner, ISBN 1416532471

It pains me to see my old company, which has meant so much to America, on the ropes. But Chrysler has been in trouble before, and we got through it, and I believe they can do it again. [...] Let's face it, if your car breaks down, you're not going to take it to the White House to get fixed. But, if your company breaks down, you've got to go to the experts on the ground, not the bureaucrats.

Encyclopedia
Lido Anthony "Lee" Iacocca (icon ; born October 15, 1924) is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 businessman
Businessperson
A businessperson is someone involved in a particular undertaking of activities for the purpose of generating revenue from a combination of human, financial, or physical capital. An entrepreneur is an example of a business person...

 known for engineering the Mustang, the unsuccessful Ford Pinto, being fired from Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company is an American multinational automaker based in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. The automaker was founded by Henry Ford and incorporated on June 16, 1903. In addition to the Ford and Lincoln brands, Ford also owns a small stake in Mazda in Japan and Aston Martin in the UK...

, and his revival of the Chrysler
Chrysler
Chrysler Group LLC is a multinational automaker headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA. Chrysler was first organized as the Chrysler Corporation in 1925....

 Corporation in the 1980s. He served as President and CEO of Chrysler from 1978 and additionally as chairman from 1979, until his retirement at the end of 1992.

One of the most famous business people in the world, Iacocca was a passionate advocate of U.S. business exports during the 1980s. He is the author (or co-author) of several books, including Iacocca: An Autobiography
Iacocca: An Autobiography
Iacocca: An Autobiography is Lee Iacocca's best selling autobiography, co-authored with William Novak and originally published in 1984. Most of the book is taken up with reminiscences of Iacocca's career in the car industry, first with the Ford Motor Company, then the Chrysler Corporation...

(with William Novak), and Where Have All the Leaders Gone?
Where have all the Leaders Gone?
Where Have All the Leaders Gone? is a New York Times bestseller book written by the former CEO of Chrysler, Lee Iacocca, and published in 2007....



Portfolio named Iacocca the 18th-greatest American CEO of all time.

Early life

Iacocca was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania
Allentown, Pennsylvania
Allentown is a city located in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, in the United States. It is Pennsylvania's third most populous city, after Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and the 215th largest city in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 118,032 and is currently...

 to Nicola Iacocca and Antonietta Perrotta, Italian
Italian people
The Italian people are an ethnic group that share a common Italian culture, ancestry and speak the Italian language as a mother tongue. Within Italy, Italians are defined by citizenship, regardless of ancestry or country of residence , and are distinguished from people...

 immigrants (from San Marco dei Cavoti
San Marco dei Cavoti
San Marco dei Cavoti is a comune in the Province of Benevento in the Italian region Campania, located near the Fortore River valley.San Marco is one of the best-known places in Italy for the production of torrone...

, Benevento
Benevento
Benevento is a town and comune of Campania, Italy, capital of the province of Benevento, 50 km northeast of Naples. It is situated on a hill 130 m above sea-level at the confluence of the Calore Irpino and Sabato...

) who had settled in Pennsylvania's steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

-making belt. They operated a restaurant, Yocco's Hot Dogs
Yocco's Hot Dogs
Yocco's Hot Dogs is a regionally-famous hot dog and cheesesteak establishment with six restaurants, each located in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania, in the United States. Yocco's was founded in 1922 by Theodore Iacocca, uncle of Lee Iacocca...

. He was said to have been christened with the unusual name "Lido" because he was conceived during his parents' honeymoon in the Lido district in Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 (he says in his autobiography that his father went to Lido long before his marriage and not for his honeymoon).

Iacocca graduated from Allentown High School
William Allen High School
William Allen High School is one of two public high schools of the Allentown School District located in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in the United States....

 (now known as
William Allen High School) in 1942, and Lehigh University
Lehigh University
Lehigh University is a private, co-educational university located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in the Lehigh Valley region of the United States. It was established in 1865 by Asa Packer as a four-year technical school, but has grown to include studies in a wide variety of disciplines...

 in neighboring Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Bethlehem is a city in Lehigh and Northampton Counties in the Lehigh Valley region of eastern Pennsylvania, in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 74,982, making it the seventh largest city in Pennsylvania, after Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie,...

, with a degree in industrial engineering. He is a member of Tau Beta Pi
Tau Beta Pi
The Tau Beta Pi Association is the oldest engineering honor society in the United States and the second oldest collegiate honor society in America. It honors engineering students who have shown a history of academic achievement as well as a commitment to personal and professional integrity...

, the engineering honor society, and an alumnus of Theta Chi
Theta Chi
Theta Chi Fraternity is an international college fraternity. It was founded on April 10, 1856 as the Theta Chi Society, at Norwich University, Norwich, Vermont, U.S., and was the 21st of the 71 North-American Interfraternity Conference men's fraternities.-Founding and early years at Norwich:Theta...

 Fraternity.

After graduating from Lehigh, he won the Wallace Memorial Fellowship and went to Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

, where he took his electives in politics
Politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

 and plastic
Plastic
A plastic material is any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic solids used in the manufacture of industrial products. Plastics are typically polymers of high molecular mass, and may contain other substances to improve performance and/or reduce production costs...

s. He then began a career at the Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company is an American multinational automaker based in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. The automaker was founded by Henry Ford and incorporated on June 16, 1903. In addition to the Ford and Lincoln brands, Ford also owns a small stake in Mazda in Japan and Aston Martin in the UK...

 as an engineer. Eventually dissatisfied with that job, he switched career paths at Ford, entering the company's sales force. He was very successful in sales, and he moved up through the ranks of Ford, moving ultimately to product development.

Marriage and family

Iacocca was married to Mary McCleary in 1956. They had two daughters: Kathryn and Lia. Mary Iacocca died in 1983 from diabetes. Both before and after her death, Iacocca became a strong advocate for better medical treatment of diabetes patients, who frequently faced debilitating and fatal complications.

Iacocca married his second wife Peggy Johnson on April 17, 1986 but in 1987, after nineteen months, Iacocca had the marriage annulled. He married a third wife, Darrien Earle, in 1991. They were divorced three years later in 1994.

Career at Ford

Iacocca joined Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company is an American multinational automaker based in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. The automaker was founded by Henry Ford and incorporated on June 16, 1903. In addition to the Ford and Lincoln brands, Ford also owns a small stake in Mazda in Japan and Aston Martin in the UK...

 in 1946. After a brief stint in engineering
Engineering
Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of...

, he asked to be moved to sales and marketing, where his career flourished. While working in the Philadelphia district as assistant sales manager, Iacocca gained national recognition with his "56 for '56" campaign, offering loans on 1956 model year
Model year
The model year of a product is a number used worldwide, but with a high level of prominence in North America, to describe approximately when a product was produced, and indicates the coinciding base specification of that product....

 cars with a 20% down payment
Down payment
Down payment is a payment used in the context of the purchase of expensive items such as a car and a house, whereby the payment is the initial upfront portion of the total amount due and it is usually given in cash at the time of finalizing the transaction.A loan is then required to make the full...

 and $56 in monthly payments for three years. His campaign went national, and Iacocca was called to Dearborn, where he quickly moved up through the ranks. In 1960 Iacocca was named Ford's vice-president, car and truck group; in 1967, executive vice-president; and in 1970-1978, president.

Iacocca participated in the design of several successful Ford automobiles, most notably the Ford Mustang
Ford Mustang
The Ford Mustang is an automobile manufactured by the Ford Motor Company. It was initially based on the second generation North American Ford Falcon, a compact car. Introduced early on April 17, 1964, as a "1964½" model, the 1965 Mustang was the automaker's most successful launch since the Model A...

, the Lincoln Continental Mark III
Lincoln Continental Mark III
The Lincoln Continental Mark III was a personal luxury car produced by Lincoln and sold in North America in the 1969 through 1971 model years.-Introduction:...

, the Ford Escort
Ford Escort
Ford Escort may refer to:* Ford Escort , a vehicle manufactured by Ford Motor Company's European division from 1968 through 2003* Ford Escort , a compact car that was manufactured by the Ford Motor Company for the North American market...

 and the revival of the Mercury
Mercury (automobile)
Mercury was an automobile marque of the Ford Motor Company launched in 1938 by Edsel Ford, son of Henry Ford, to market entry-level luxury cars slotted between Ford-branded regular models and Lincoln-branded luxury vehicles, similar to General Motors' Buick brand, and Chrysler's namesake brand...

 brand in the late 1960s, including the introduction of the Mercury Cougar
Mercury Cougar
The Mercury Cougar is an automobile which was sold under the Mercury brand of the Ford Motor Company's Lincoln-Mercury Division from 1967 to 2002. The name was first used in 1967 and was carried by a diverse series of cars over the next three decades. As is common with Mercury vehicles, the Cougar...

 and Mercury Marquis
Mercury Marquis
These were known as the "Continental Styling" years, as Mercury was trying to market itself as an affordable Lincoln, rather than a more expensive Ford...

. He was also the "moving force," as one court put it, behind the Ford Pinto
Ford Pinto
The Ford Pinto is a subcompact car produced by the Ford Motor Company for the model years 1971–1980. The car's name derives from the Pinto horse. Initially offered as a two-door sedan, Ford offered "Runabout" hatchback and wagon models the following year, competing in the U.S. market with the AMC...

. He promoted other ideas which did not reach the marketplace as Ford products. These included cars ultimately introduced by Chrysler- the K car
Chrysler K platform
The Chrysler Corporation's K-cars were compact-to-midsize cars designed to carry six adults on two bench seats and were aimed not only to replace Chrysler's nominally-compact F-body Aspen and Volaré, but also to compete with intermediates like the Chevrolet Malibu and Ford Fairmont...

 and the minivan
Minivan
Minivan is a type of van designed for personal use. Minivans are typically either two-box or one box designs for maximum interior volume – and are taller than a sedan, hatchback, or a station wagon....

. Eventually, he became the president of the Ford Motor Company, but he clashed with Henry Ford II
Henry Ford II
Henry Ford II , commonly known as "HF2" and "Hank the Deuce", was the son of Edsel Ford and grandson of Henry Ford...

. He was fired in 1978, although the company posted a $2 billion profit for the year.

Career at Chrysler

Iacocca was strongly courted by the Chrysler Corporation, which was on the verge of going out of business. At the time, the company was losing millions, largely due to recalls of its Dodge Aspen
Dodge Aspen
The Dodge Aspen, produced from 1976 to 1980, was a compact car from Chrysler Corporation's Dodge division; its Plymouth-branded counterpart was the Volaré . It was launched as a two-door coupe, a four-door sedan, and a unique-for-the-segment station wagon...

 and Plymouth Volare. Iacocca later said they should never have been built. Iacocca joined Chrysler and began rebuilding the entire company from the ground up, laying off many workers, selling the loss-making Chrysler Europe
Chrysler Europe
Chrysler Europe was a division of the Chrysler Corporation that operated between 1967 and 1979.-Formation:In the 1960s, Chrysler sought to become a world producer of automobiles. The company had never had much success outside North America, contrasting with Ford's worldwide reach and General...

 division to Peugeot
Peugeot
Peugeot is a major French car brand, part of PSA Peugeot Citroën, the second largest carmaker based in Europe.The family business that precedes the current Peugeot company was founded in 1810, and manufactured coffee mills and bicycles. On 20 November 1858, Emile Peugeot applied for the lion...

, and bringing in many former associates from his former company.

Also from Ford, Iacocca brought to Chrysler the "Mini-Max" project, which, in 1983, bore fruit in the highly successful Dodge Caravan
Dodge Caravan
The Dodge Caravan is a family minivan manufactured by Chrysler Group LLC and sold under its Dodge brand. Along with its nameplate variant, the Plymouth Voyager, the Caravan was introduced for the 1984 model year. In 1987, the Dodge Grand Caravan long-wheelbase model was introduced and sold...

 and Plymouth Voyager
Plymouth Voyager
In 1984, the Voyager name was applied to Plymouth's variant of Chrysler's all new minivan. This Voyager used the Chrysler S platform, which was derived from the K-platform . In addition to using a derived platform, the Voyager shared many components with the K-cars, most notably the interior...

. Henry Ford II had wanted nothing to do with the Mini-Max, a restyled version of the minivan, which Toyota was selling in huge numbers in Asia and Latin America, and his opinion doomed the project at Ford. Hal Sperlich, the driving force behind the Mini-Max at Ford, had been fired a few months before Iacocca. He had been hired by Chrysler, where the two would make automotive history.

Iacocca arrived shortly after Chrysler's introduction of the subcompact Dodge Omni
Dodge Omni
The Dodge Omni and the similar Plymouth Horizon were front wheel drive cars introduced by the Dodge and Plymouth divisions of the Chrysler Corporation in North America in 1978, and were based on a European Simca-based design of the same name...

 and Plymouth Horizon. Bearing a strong resemblance to the Volkswagen
Volkswagen
Volkswagen is a German automobile manufacturer and is the original and biggest-selling marque of the Volkswagen Group, which now also owns the Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, SEAT, and Škoda marques and the truck manufacturer Scania.Volkswagen means "people's car" in German, where it is...

 Rabbit
Volkswagen Golf
The Volkswagen Golf is a small family car manufactured by Volkswagen since 1974 and marketed worldwide across six generations, in various body configurations and under various nameplates – as the Volkswagen Rabbit in the United States and Canada , and as the Volkswagen Caribe in Mexico .The...

, the front-wheel drive Omni and Horizon became instant hits, selling over 300,000 units each in their debut year, showing what was to come for Chrysler. The Omni and Horizon had been designed alongside the Chrysler Horizon
Chrysler Horizon
The Horizon was a subcompact automobile developed by Chrysler Europe and was sold in Europe between 1977 and 1985 under the Chrysler, Simca and Talbot nameplates...

 with much input from the Chrysler Europe division of the company (evidenced by many examples having VW/Audi engines), which Iacocca axed in 1978.

Iacocca gave an exclusive Chrysler Motors concession in Colombia to Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela
Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela
Gilberto José Rodríguez Orejuela is a Colombian druglord, formerly one of the leaders of the Cali Cartel, based in the city of Cali.-Cali Cartel:...

, known to be the head of the Colombian drug dealing Cali Cartel
Cali Cartel
The Cali Cartel was a drug cartel based in southern Colombia, around the city of Cali and the Valle del Cauca Department. The Cali Cartel was founded by the Rodríguez Orejuela brothers, Gilberto and Miguel, as well as associate José Santacruz Londoño...

.

1979 Chrysler bailout

Realizing that the company would go out of business if it did not receive a significant amount of money for a turnaround, Iacocca approached the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 in 1979 and asked for a loan guarantee. While some have said that Congress lent Chrysler the money, the government only guaranteed the loans. Most observers thought this was an unprecedented move, but Iacocca pointed to the government's bailouts of the airline and railroad industries. He argued that there were more jobs at stake in Chrysler's possible demise. Iacocca received the loan guarantee from the government, whose decision caused controversy.

Chrysler released the first of the K-Car
Chrysler K platform
The Chrysler Corporation's K-cars were compact-to-midsize cars designed to carry six adults on two bench seats and were aimed not only to replace Chrysler's nominally-compact F-body Aspen and Volaré, but also to compete with intermediates like the Chevrolet Malibu and Ford Fairmont...

 line: the Dodge Aries
Dodge Aries
The Dodge Aries is an automobile sold by the Chrysler Corporation from 1981-1989. It replaced the Dodge Aspen as Dodge's family car with "mid-size room" in a size and front-wheel drive format commonly associated with compact cars...

 and Plymouth Reliant
Plymouth Reliant
The Plymouth Reliant was one of the first two so-called "K-cars" manufactured by the Chrysler Corporation, introduced for the 1981 model year. The Reliant replaced the Plymouth Volaré/Road Runner, which was the short-lived successor automobile to the highly regarded Plymouth Valiant...

, in 1981. Similar to the later minivan, these compact automobiles were based on design proposals which Ford had rejected during Iacocca's (and Sperlich's) tenure. Released in the middle of the major 1980-1982 recession, the small, efficient and inexpensive front-wheel drive
Front-wheel drive
Front-wheel drive is a form of engine/transmission layout used in motor vehicles, where the engine drives the front wheels only. Most modern front-wheel drive vehicles feature a transverse engine, rather than the conventional longitudinal engine arrangement generally found in rear-wheel drive and...

 cars sold rapidly. In addition, Iacocca re-introduced the big Imperial as the company's flagship. The new model had all of the newest technologies of the time, including fully electronic fuel injection (the first car in the U.S. to be so equipped) and all-digital dashboard.

Chrysler introduced the minivan, chiefly Sperlich's "baby," in the fall of 1983. It led the automobile industry in sales for 25 years. Because of the K-cars and minivans, along with the reforms Iacocca implemented, the company turned around quickly and was able to repay the government-backed loans seven years earlier than expected.
Iacocca led Chrysler's acquisition of AMC
American Motors
American Motors Corporation was an American automobile company formed by the 1954 merger of Nash-Kelvinator Corporation and Hudson Motor Car Company. At the time, it was the largest corporate merger in U.S. history.George W...

 in 1987, which brought the profitable Jeep
Jeep
Jeep is an automobile marque of Chrysler . The first Willys Jeeps were produced in 1941 with the first civilian models in 1945, making it the oldest off-road vehicle and sport utility vehicle brand. It inspired a number of other light utility vehicles, such as the Land Rover which is the second...

 division under the corporate umbrella. It created the short-lived Eagle division
Eagle (automobile)
Eagle was a marque of the Chrysler Corporation following the purchase of American Motors Corporation and aimed at the enthusiast driver.Though short-lived, the Eagle Vision sedan sold in respectable numbers, while the sporty Eagle Talon sold more than 115,000 units.-Overview:Following the...

, formed from the remnants of AMC. By this time, AMC had already finished most of the work with the Jeep Grand Cherokee
Jeep Grand Cherokee
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is a Mid-size SUV produced by the Jeep division of Chrysler. While some other SUVs were manufactured with body on frame construction, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has always used a unibody chassis.- Development :...

, which Iacocca wanted. The Grand Cherokee would not be released until 1992 for the 1993 model year, the same year that Iacocca retired.

Throughout the 1980s, Iacocca appeared in a series of commercials for the company's vehicles, using the ad campaign, "The pride is back", to denote the turnaround of the corporation. He also used what was to become his trademark phrase: "If you can find a better car, buy it."

Other work and activities

In May 1982, President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 appointed Iacocca to head the Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886...

-Ellis Island
Ellis Island
Ellis Island in New York Harbor was the gateway for millions of immigrants to the United States. It was the nation's busiest immigrant inspection station from 1892 until 1954. The island was greatly expanded with landfill between 1892 and 1934. Before that, the much smaller original island was the...

 Foundation, which was created to raise funds for the renovation and preservation of the Statue of Liberty. He continues to serve on the board of the foundation.

In 1984, Iacocca co-authored (with William Novak) an autobiography, titled Iacocca: An Autobiography
Iacocca: An Autobiography
Iacocca: An Autobiography is Lee Iacocca's best selling autobiography, co-authored with William Novak and originally published in 1984. Most of the book is taken up with reminiscences of Iacocca's career in the car industry, first with the Ford Motor Company, then the Chrysler Corporation...

.
It was the best selling non-fiction hardback book of 1984 and 1985. He donated the proceeds of the book's sales to diabetes research.

Iacocca appeared on an episode of Miami Vice
Miami Vice
Miami Vice is an American television series produced by Michael Mann for NBC. The series starred Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas as two Metro-Dade Police Department detectives working undercover in Miami. It ran for five seasons on NBC from 1984–1989...

,
playing Park Commissioner Lido in episode #44 (titled Sons and Lovers) on May 9, 1986. The name of the character is a play on his birth name.

In 1988, Iacocca co-authored (with Sonny Kleinfeld) Talking Straight
Talking Straight
Talking Straight is a book written by Lee Iacocca, then CEO of Chrysler Motors, with Sonny Kleinfeld. It was written to balance Akio Morita's Made in Japan, a non-fiction book praising Japan's post-war hard-working culture. Talking Straight praised the innovation and creativity of Americans....

, a book meant as a counter-balance to Akio Morita
Akio Morita
Akio Morita KBE was a Japanese businessman and co-founder of Sony Corporation along with Masaru Ibuka.-Early life:...

's Made in Japan
Made in Japan (biography)
Made in Japan : Akio Morita and Sony is an autobiography of Akio Morita, the co-founder and former chairman of Sony Corporation. It was written with the assistance of Edwin M. Reingold and Mitsuko Shimomura...

,
a non-fiction book praising Japan's post-war
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 hard-working culture. Talking Straight praised the innovation and creativity of Americans.

Pennsylvania Governor Robert P. Casey
Robert P. Casey
Robert Patrick "Bob" Casey, Sr. was an American politician from Pennsylvania. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as the 42nd Governor of Pennsylvania from 1987 to 1995...

 discussed with Iacocca an appointment to the U.S. Senate in 1991 after the death of Senator H. John Heinz III
H. John Heinz III
Henry John Heinz III was an American politician from Pennsylvania, a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate .-Early life:...

, but Iacocca declined.

In 1999, Iacocca became the head of EV Global Motors, a company formed to develop and market electric bikes with a top speed of 15 mph and a range of 20 miles between recharging at wall outlets.

Politically, Iacocca supported the successful Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 candidate George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 in the 2000 presidential election. In the 2004 presidential election, however, he endorsed Bush's opponent, Democrat
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 John Kerry
John Kerry
John Forbes Kerry is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, the 10th most senior U.S. Senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2004 presidential election, but lost to former President George W...

. Most recently, in Michigan's 2006 gubernatorial race, Iacocca appeared in televised political ads endorsing Republican candidate Dick DeVos
Dick DeVos
Dick DeVos is a businessman and Republican politician from Michigan. The son of billionaire Amway co-founder Richard DeVos, he served as CEO of the multi-level marketing consumer goods distribution company from 1993–2002...

, who lost. Iacocca endorsed New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson for President in the 2008 Presidential Election.

Following the death of Iacocca's wife from diabetes
Diabetes mellitus
Diabetes mellitus, often simply referred to as diabetes, is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the body does not produce enough insulin, or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced...

, he became an active supporter of research for the disease. He has been one of the main patrons of the research of Denise Faustman
Denise Faustman
Denise L. Faustman, is a U.S. physician and medical researcher. An Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard University and Director of the Immunobiology Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital, her work specializes in diabetes mellitus type 1 and other autoimmune diseases...

 at Massachusetts General Hospital
Massachusetts General Hospital
Massachusetts General Hospital is a teaching hospital and biomedical research facility in the West End neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts...

. In 2000, Iacocca founded Olivio Premium Products
Olivio Premium Products
Olivio Premium Products, Inc., is a food manufacturing company based in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. It manufactures spreads and cooking products under the Olivio brand name, and is best known for an olive oil-based margarine-like spread....

, which manufactures the Olivio
Olivio
Olivio is the brand name for condiments and cooking oils manufactured by Olivio Premium Products.Three primary products are released under the Olivio brand name:...

 line of food products made from olive oil
Olive oil
Olive oil is an oil obtained from the olive , a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. It is commonly used in cooking, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps...

. He donates all profits from the company to diabetes research. In 2004, Iacocca launched Join Lee Now, a national grassroots
Grassroots
A grassroots movement is one driven by the politics of a community. The term implies that the creation of the movement and the group supporting it are natural and spontaneous, highlighting the differences between this and a movement that is orchestrated by traditional power structures...

 campaign, to bring Faustman's research to human clinical trials in 2006.

Iacocca has been an advocate of "Nourish the Children," an initiative of Nu Skin Enterprises
Nu Skin Enterprises
Nu Skin Enterprises is an American direct selling company that develops and distributes personal care products and nutritional supplements that are sold under the Nu Skin and Pharmanex brands. Nu Skin was founded in 1984 in Provo, Utah....

, since its inception in 2002. He is currently its chairman. He helped donate a generator for the Malawi
Malawi
The Republic of Malawi is a landlocked country in southeast Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west. The country is separated from Tanzania and Mozambique by Lake Malawi. Its size...

 VitaMeal plant.

On May 17, 2007, Simon & Schuster
Simon & Schuster
Simon & Schuster, Inc., a division of CBS Corporation, is a publisher founded in New York City in 1924 by Richard L. Simon and M. Lincoln Schuster. It is one of the four largest English-language publishers, alongside Random House, Penguin and HarperCollins...

 published Iacocca's book, Where Have All the Leaders Gone?, co-written with Catherine Whitney. An article with the same title, and same two co-authors, has recently been published. In the book, Iacocca writes:
On December 3, 2007, Iacocca launched a website to encourage open dialogue about the challenges of our time. He has introduced topics such as health care costs, and the United States' lag in developing alternative energy sources and hybrid vehicles. The site also promotes his book Where Have All the Leaders Gone. It provides an interactive means for users to rate presidential candidates by the qualities Iacocca believes they should possess: curiosity, creativity, communication, character, courage, conviction, charisma, competence and common sense.

Iacocca led the fundraising campaign to enable Lehigh University
Lehigh University
Lehigh University is a private, co-educational university located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in the Lehigh Valley region of the United States. It was established in 1865 by Asa Packer as a four-year technical school, but has grown to include studies in a wide variety of disciplines...

 to adapt and use vacant buildings formerly owned by Bethlehem Steel
Bethlehem Steel
The Bethlehem Steel Corporation , based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was once the second-largest steel producer in the United States, after Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based U.S. Steel. After a decline in the U.S...

. Iacocca Hall on the Mountaintop Campus of Lehigh University houses the College of Education, the biology and chemical engineering departments, and The Iacocca Institute, which is focused on global competitiveness.

"Return" to Chrysler

Iacocca retired as President, CEO and Chairman of Chrysler at the end of 1992. In 1995, he assisted in billionaire Kirk Kerkorian
Kirk Kerkorian
Kerkor "Kirk" Kerkorian is an American businessman who is the president/CEO of Tracinda Corporation, his private holding company based in Beverly Hills, California. Kerkorian is known as one of the important figures in shaping Las Vegas and, with architect Martin Stern, Jr...

's hostile takeover of Chrysler, which was ultimately unsuccessful. The next year, Kerkorian and Chrysler made a five-year agreement which included a gag order preventing Iacocca from speaking publicly about Chrysler.

In July 2005, Iacocca returned to the airwaves as Chrysler's pitchman, along with stars such as Jason Alexander
Jason Alexander
Jay Scott Greenspan , better known by his professional name of Jason Alexander, is an American actor, writer, comedian, television director, producer, and singer. He is best known for his role as George Costanza on the television series Seinfeld, appearing in the sitcom from 1989 to 1998...

 and Snoop Dogg
Snoop Dogg
Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. , better known by his stage name Snoop Dogg, is an American rapper, record producer, and actor. Snoop is best known as a rapper in the West Coast hip hop scene, and for being one of Dr. Dre's most notable protégés. Snoop Dogg was a Crip gang member while in high school...

, to promote Chrysler's "Employee Pricing Plus" program; the ads reprise the "If you can find a better car, buy it" line, Iacocca's trademark
Trademark
A trademark, trade mark, or trade-mark is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to identify that the products or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to distinguish its products or...

 of the 1980s. In return for his services, Iacocca and DaimlerChrysler
DaimlerChrysler
Daimler AG is a German car corporation. By unit sales, it is the thirteenth-largest car manufacturer and second-largest truck manufacturer in the world. In addition to automobiles, Daimler manufactures buses and provides financial services through its Daimler Financial Services arm...

 agreed that his fees, plus a $1 donation per vehicle sold from July 1 through December 31, 2005, would be donated to the Iacocca Foundation for diabetes research.

Reflections on Chrysler's predicament

In an April 2009 Newsweek
Newsweek
Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine published in New York City. It is distributed throughout the United States and internationally. It is the second-largest news weekly magazine in the U.S., having trailed Time in circulation and advertising revenue for most of its existence...

interview, Iacocca reflected on his time spent at Chrysler and the company's current situation. He said:

Loss of Chrysler pension and company car

Because of the Chrysler bankruptcy, Iacocca may lose his pension from a supplemental executive retirement plan and a guaranteed company car during his lifetime. The losses were due to take place once the bankruptcy court approves the sale of Chrysler to Chrysler Group LLC, with ownership of the new company by the United Auto Workers
United Auto Workers
The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, better known as the United Auto Workers , is a labor union which represents workers in the United States and Puerto Rico, and formerly in Canada. Founded as part of the Congress of Industrial...

, Fiat and the governments of the United States and Canada.

Ford Pinto fuel tank controversy

In 1977 there were allegations that the Pinto's structural design allowed its fuel tank filler neck to break off and the fuel tank to be punctured in a rear-end collision
Rear-end collision
A rear-end collision is a traffic accident wherein a vehicle crashes into the vehicle in front of it, usually caused by tailgating or panic stops...

, resulting in deadly fires. Iacocca was quoted as saying "Safety doesn't sell"; he became an icon of the economic appraisal of human life. This case is a staple of engineering ethics courses as an example of a bad Cost/Benefit analysis; but its complexities are often ignored for the sake of the narrative.

Allegations and lawsuits

Critics alleged that the vehicle's lack of reinforcing structure between the rear panel and the tank meant the tank would be pushed forward and punctured by the protruding bolts of the differential
Differential (mechanics)
A differential is a device, usually, but not necessarily, employing gears, capable of transmitting torque and rotation through three shafts, almost always used in one of two ways: in one way, it receives one input and provides two outputs—this is found in most automobiles—and in the other way, it...

 — making the car less safe than its contemporaries.

According to a 1977 Mother Jones article, Ford officials were allegedly aware of the design flaw, but refused to pay for a redesign. They were said to have decided it would be cheaper to pay off possible lawsuits for resulting deaths. The magazine obtained a cost-benefit analysis
Cost-benefit analysis
Cost–benefit analysis , sometimes called benefit–cost analysis , is a systematic process for calculating and comparing benefits and costs of a project for two purposes: to determine if it is a sound investment , to see how it compares with alternate projects...

 which it said Ford had used to compare the cost of an $11 repair against the monetary value of a human life — what became known as the "Ford Pinto Memo".

An example of a Pinto rear-end accident that led to a lawsuit was the 1981 accident that killed Lilly Gray and severely burned 13-year old Richard Grimshaw. The accident resulted in the court case Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Co.
Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Co.
Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Company was a California case about the safety of the Ford Pinto car, manufactured by Ford Motor Company with knowledge of design flaws that might lead to serious injury.-External links:*...

, in which the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District upheld compensatory damages
Damages
In law, damages is an award, typically of money, to be paid to a person as compensation for loss or injury; grammatically, it is a singular noun, not plural.- Compensatory damages :...

 of $2.5 million and punitive damages
Punitive damages
Punitive damages or exemplary damages are damages intended to reform or deter the defendant and others from engaging in conduct similar to that which formed the basis of the lawsuit...

 of $3.5 million against Ford. The damages and ruling were partially because Ford was shown to have been knowledgeable about the design defects before production but had decided against changing the design.

Recall

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is an agency of the Executive Branch of the U.S. government, part of the Department of Transportation...

 (NHTSA) pressured Ford to recall the Pinto, motivated by public outcry and pressure from groups such as Ralph Nader's Center for Auto Safety
Center for Auto Safety
The Center for Auto Safety was founded in 1970 by Consumers Union and Ralph Nader as a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group focused on the United States automotive industry.- Accomplishments :...

. Initially the NHTSA did not believe there was sufficient evidence of incidents of fire to demand a recall. The 27 deaths attributed to Pinto fires is the same number of deaths attributed to a transmission problem in the Pinto, which resulted in 180 total deaths in all Ford vehicles, and in 1974 the NHTSA ruled that the Pinto had no "recallable" problem.

In 1978 Ford initiated a recall. It provided plastic protective shields to be dealer-installed between the fuel tank and the differential bolts, another to deflect contact with the right-rear shock absorber, and a new fuel-tank filler neck that extended deeper into the tank and was more resistant to breaking off in a rear-end collision.

Schwartz Study

In a 1991 paper, "The Myth of the Ford Pinto Case", for the Rutgers Law Review
Rutgers Law Review
The Rutgers Law Review is a quarterly scholarly journal focusing on legal issues, published by an organization of second and third year law students at Rutgers School of Law. It is the flagship law review among the five accredited law journals at Rutgers School of Law...

, Gary T. Schwartz said the case against the Pinto was not clear-cut. According to his study, the number who died in Pinto rear-impact fires was well below the hundreds cited in contemporary news reports, and closer to the twenty-seven recorded by a limited NHTSA database. Given the Pinto's production figures (over 2 million built), this was not substantially worse than typical for the time. Schwartz said that the car was no more fire-prone than other cars of the time, and that its fatality rates were lower than comparably sized imported automobiles. He noted that the supposed "smoking gun" document, which plaintiffs said demonstrated Ford's callousness in designing the Pinto, was a document based on NHTSA regulations related to the value of a human life, rather than a document containing an assessment of Ford's potential tort
Tort
A tort, in common law jurisdictions, is a wrong that involves a breach of a civil duty owed to someone else. It is differentiated from a crime, which involves a breach of a duty owed to society in general...

 liability.

Schwartz wrote:
  • "The Pinto Memo" wasn't used or consulted internally by Ford, but rather was attached to a letter written to NHTSA about proposed regulation. When plaintiffs tried to use the memo in support of punitive damages, the trial judge ruled it inadmissible for that purpose (p. 1021, Schwartz study).
  • The Pinto's fuel tank location behind the axle, characterized as its design defect, was "commonplace at the time in American cars" (p. 1027).
  • The precedent of the California Supreme Court at the time not only tolerated manufacturers trading off safety for cost, but apparently encouraged manufacturers to consider such trade-offs (p. 1037).

In popular culture

  • Chrysler's loan guarantee controversy was parodied by folk singer Tom Paxton
    Tom Paxton
    Thomas Richard Paxton is an American folk singer and singer-songwriter who has been writing, performing and recording music for over forty years...

     in his song "I'm Changing My Name to Chrysler" as a (not particularly serious) way for individuals to get out of their own financial problems. Part of the chorus of the song goes, "I will tell some power broker / What he did for Iacocca / Will be perfectly acceptable to me."
  • Iacocca was referenced in the long-unreleased Neil Young
    Neil Young
    Neil Percival Young, OC, OM is a Canadian singer-songwriter who is widely regarded as one of the most influential musicians of his generation...

     song "Ordinary People," which refers to 'Lee Iacocca people.' It was released on the album Chrome Dreams II
    Chrome Dreams II
    Chrome Dreams II is the thirty-first studio album by Canadian musician Neil Young. The album was released on October 23, 2007. The album is a sequel to Chrome Dreams, a legendary Neil Young album from 1977 that had originally been scheduled for release but was shelved in favor of American Stars 'N...

    in October 2007.
  • Iacocca is portrayed by lookalike actor Walter Addison in the 2009 superhero film Watchmen
    Watchmen (film)
    Watchmen is a 2009 superhero film directed by Zack Snyder and starring Malin Åkerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Patrick Wilson. It is an adaptation of the comic book of the same name by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons...

    ; an assassin shoots him when attempting to assassinate Adrian Veidt.
  • Iacocca is mentioned in the Season 3 episode of The Office, "Cocktails", when CFO David Wallace pours glasses of 20-year scotch given to him by Lee Iacocca for a few of his guests. Michael Scott toasts Iacocca saying, "Here's to Mr. Iacocca and his failed experiment... The DeLorean."
  • Iacocca is also mentioned in the Season 6 episode of The Office,"Happy Hour", when Donna asks Michael if he has read Iacocca's book. Michael then replies "Read it?, I own it. But no, I have not read it."
  • Iacocca's image is strongly associated with business and capitalism, as is shown in the use of his name on a school (The Lee Iacocca Elementary School) in the movie RoboCop
    RoboCop
    RoboCop is a 1987 American science fiction-action film directed by Paul Verhoeven. Set in a crime-ridden Detroit, Michigan in the near future, RoboCop centers on a police officer who is brutally murdered and subsequently re-created as a super-human cyborg known as "RoboCop"...

    to portray a dystopian future in which capitalism is taken to an extreme level.
  • Iacocca is mentioned in the comic strip Bloom County by a dancing cockroach.
  • In the Season 1 episode of Full House
    Full House
    Full House is an American sitcom television series. Set in San Francisco, the show chronicles widowed father Danny Tanner, who, after the death of his wife, enlists his best friend Joey Gladstone and his brother-in-law Jesse Katsopolis to help raise his three daughters, D.J., Stephanie, and...

    , "But, Seriously Folks", Joey gives up his stand-up career for a business career and hangs a poster of Lee Iacocca in his bedroom.

See also

  • Ford Mustang Iacocca Silver 45th Anniversary Edition

Works by

  • Iacocca, Lee and Sonny Klenfield (1988) Talking Straight. Bantam. ISBN 0-553-05270-5
  • Iacocca, Lee and William Novak (1986 reissue). Iacocca: An Autobiography
    Iacocca: An Autobiography
    Iacocca: An Autobiography is Lee Iacocca's best selling autobiography, co-authored with William Novak and originally published in 1984. Most of the book is taken up with reminiscences of Iacocca's career in the car industry, first with the Ford Motor Company, then the Chrysler Corporation...

    . Bantam. ISBN 0553251470

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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