Lee Iacocca, Father Of The Mustang, Has
by Dean V. Ricci
July 2, 2019 -- A giant in the automotive industry has passed away. Lee
Iacocca has died at 94-years-old in his Los Angeles home. A family
spokesman has announced that Iacocca died from complications of
Parkinson’s disease. Iacocca was part of the automotive industry for most
of his life and had a significant influence at Ford where he was known for
his hand in the Ford racing program of the 1960s, and as being the father
of the Ford Mustang.
Lee Iacocca and the Ford Mustang appeared
at the same time on the covers of Time and Newsweek; the stories inside
were later said to essentially be unpaid commercials credited with selling
an extra 100,000 Mustangs. Iacocca was also part of the Ford and Ferrari
battle for Le Mans glory that led to the production of the Ford GT40. John
Bernthal plays Iacocca in the film “Ford v Ferrari” that hits theaters in
November of 2019. Lee Iacocca was also known at Ford for being fired by
Henry Ford II in 1978.
He landed next at Chrysler in the early ’80s where he became the best
known automotive executive around by staring in commercials for Chrysler
with his famous “If you can find a better car, buy it” sales pitch.
Iacocca was key to saving Chrysler from bankruptcy and secured
congressional funding for massive $1.5 billion in loans from Congress that
Chrysler used to build its K-car.
Under his leadership, Chrysler was able to repay the Congressional loans
7-years early. Lee Iacocca also helped to raise money to refurbish the
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in the mid-1980s and discouraged talk
of a run for President when Democrats of the era began to talk him up as a
potential candidate. He also turned down an appointment to the U.S. Senate
from his home state of Pennsylvania. Showing that he had truly entered pop
culture, he made a cameo on the iconic ’80s hit “Miami Vice” and turned
down an offer to host “Saturday Night Live.”
The Mustang will live on as Ford’s best sportscar and Lee’s legacy with it
for years to come.
Press introduction of the Ford Mustang
held at the World's Fair in New York.
The Ford Mustang broke every Sales
Record there was and sold its One Millionth edition in 1966.
Serial No. 1 Mustang the first car off
the assembly line on March 9, 1964 was trucked to Newfoundland (serial No.
2, a blue hardtop, went to Alaska), where Stanley Tucker, an airline
pilot, saw the Wimbledon White convertible at the dealer and said, I want
it. Not realizing it was the first of a legendary line of cars, and doing
what it was supposed to do, the dealership sold the car to Tucker. When
Ford found out what happened, they wanted to get the car back. So, when
the Millionth Mustang was built, a trade took place between Pilot Tucker
(shown above in the driver's seat) and Ford Motor Company. Serial #1 now
resides in the Henry Ford Museum, next to the Mustang 1 Prototype two
The Iacocca. A Special Edition Ford
Mustang built by Galpin Autos of California. A very beautiful rendition of
the Ford Mustang that remains in high demand today, with recent values
north of $145,000
Lee with the 1965 Mustang - the car that
made both of them American ICONs
Donald Frey (left) and Lee Iacocca pose
with Ford Falcon and Mustang.
The Falcon served as the base platform for the new Mustang that, upon
release, captured America by Storm.
Ford sent this 8 x 10 photo of Lee
Iacocca and Don Frey and the 1965 Mustang to Ford dealers during the April
17, 1964 introduction promotions. The "417 by 4-17" was a goal: sell
417,000 Mustangs by April 17, 1965. Ford dealers made it happen.
It all started with a letter to Henry
Ford II from Anna Muccioli from East Detroit, Michigan. She wrote that the
Mustang started out as a small car, and asked why had it ballooned into
such a big car, speaking of the 1971 - 1973 Model Mustangs. As the 1974
models were announced, the Mustang II debuted. It was a smaller, more fuel
efficient edition of the famous Ford Mustang. Not only was the car a hit
with Mrs. Muccioli, its was again a sales leader for Ford.
Iacocca leans on the Mustang while
introducing the new Ford Granada and Mercury Monarch vehicles to the Media
Lee Iacocca, living the life of a Rock
As things progressed at Chrysler, the
two old friends teamed up once again to build some landmark vehicles for
The Dodge Viper, the sequel to Carroll
Shelby's Cobra was the ultimate car to come out of the renewed
relationship between the two.
Because the Government bailout Chrysler received stipulated the company
could not build V8 powered cars for 25 years, the Viper
received a V10 powerplant, based on an engine from one of its
Riding a wave of success at Chrysler,
the Democratic party came calling for Lee to take the highest office in
the land. Iacocca declined any run for public office. His exact words were
"There is too much humidty in Washington D.C. in the summer time"
Hobnobbing with (from left) Jerry Lewis,
Frank Sinatra and Astronaut Alan Shepard. The life of a Rock Star
An appearance on Jay Leno's Garage
Meeting Pope John Paul II with George
In one of his books, Iacocca wrote that
meeting Sophia was one of the most memorable moments of his life.
Quite a life indeed !