Tech

Lee Iacocca, who gave us the minivan and the Mustang, dies at 94

  • Lee Iacocca poses next to a computer in 1974 while president of the Ford Motor Company. John Olson/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images
  • Iacocca made Chrysler profitable again, in no small part thanks to the minivan and K Car platform. He was also responsible for buying AMC, which brought the Jeep brand into Chrysler's portfolio. Bettmann/Getty Images
  • Lee Iacocca posing in front of full-sized clay model of the proposed Viper sports car being worked on by staff technicians in the Advanced International Design studio at the Chrysler Tech Center in 1992. Taro Yamasaki/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Image
  • Iacocca came out of retirement to spearhead an electric bicycle company. But he was more than a decade too early and EV Global Motors was gone by 2004. Jason Kirk/Newsmakers/Getty Images
  • Lee Iacocca and Ice Cube. This photo needs no explanation. Jenna Bodnar/Getty Images

On Tuesday, former US auto executive Lee Iacocca died at the age of 94 from Parkinson's disease. He was an iconic figure in the business world, at separate times running the Ford Motor Company and later the Chrysler Corporation. His autobiography was required reading for men in suits in the 1980s, and he was even mooted for president. And along the way, he was responsible for some legendary cars, including the Ford Mustang and Chrysler Minivan.

Born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in 1924, Iacocca was the son of working class immigrants from Italy. He graduated high school during World War II, earned a degree in industrial engineering at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, then found time to study politics and plastics at Princeton before joining Ford as an engineer in 1946. However, he quickly shifted into sales and marketing, where his true skills lay. In 1960, he was promoted to general manager of the Ford Division. By 1970, he was named president of the entire company.

During his time at Ford, Iacocca was instrumental in bringing a number of vehicles to market, including the Mustang. Clever use of the corporate parts bin meant this sporty looking car was actually highly affordable in 1964, costing $2,400 at the time. It was an outrageous sales success, prompting rivals General Motors and Chrysler to create "pony cars" of their own.

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