Iacocca, Lee

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Iacocca, Lee

(Lido Anthony Iacocca) (ī'əkō`kə), 1924–2019, American automobile business executive, b. Allentown, Pa., grad. Lehigh Univ. (1945), Princeton (M.A., 1946). That year he joined the Ford Motor Company, where he became best known for presiding over the creation (1964) of the sporty and wildly successful Mustang, and rose to be Ford's president (1970–78). He left the company after a dispute with Henry Ford II and became president (1978) and then chairman (1979) of the Chrysler Corp., which was then close to failing. Iacocca restored Chrysler through shrewd financial policies, including a $1.2 billion federal loan guarantee, tax concessions from Congress, and concessions from the unions; a new lineup of car models; and a successful advertising campaign that featured him as spokesman. In the 1980s, he engineered Chrysler's acquisition of American Motors, and also served as chairman of the Statue of Liberty–Ellis Island Foundation. Iacocca retired at the end of 1992, but in 1995 he aided billionaire Kirk Kerkorian in his unsuccessful attempt to win control of Chrysler.


See his Talking Straight (1988, with N. R. Kleinfield) and Where Have All the Leaders Gone? (2007, with C. Whitney); his autobiography (1984, with W. Novak); P. Wyden, The Unknown Iacocca (1987); D. P. Levin, Behind the Wheel at Chrysler (1995).

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Iacocca, (Lido Anthony) Lee

(1924–  ) automobile executive; born in Allentown, Pa. He had a long career at Ford Motor Co. (1946–78), where he introduced the best-selling Mustang. Fired from Ford's presidency (1970–78), he became president, CEO, and chairman of the failing Chrysler Corporation (1978–92), which through layoffs, cutbacks, hard-selling advertising (including his personal "pitches"), and a government loan guarantee he restored to profitability. He became the national model of a "can-do" executive; his autobiography, Iacocca (1984), was a best-seller.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.