Father of the Mustang
Jim Smart - April 16, 2014 08:00 AM
Lee Iacocca (left) and Donald Frey prepare to share the Mustang with the worldFord Motor Company
The Mustang was unveiled at the 1964 World's Fair and Iacocca was on hand to deliver the news to the worldFord Motor Company
Ford assembly workers were kept busy as a million cars were sold within two years.Ford Motor Company
Iacocca convinced the government to bail out Chrysler, then repaid the loans ahead of scheduleProvided by Jim Smart
Now 89, Lee Iacocca has been devoting most of his time to the Iacocca Family FoundationProvided by Jim Smart
Lido Anthony Iacocca is known as the “Father of the Mustang”. He joined Ford Motor Company in 1946 as a young engineer, but changed course and went into sales.
In 1960, Iacocca became a Ford vice president and General Manager of the Ford Division and in 1970, he was named President of Ford Motor Company.
When Lee Iacocca is asked today what made him so successful, he will tell you his success was following baby boomer trends. When he assumed control of Ford Division, he saw a mundane product line that needed adrenaline.
The 1970s were tough years for auto executives. Iacocca spearheaded successful car lines like Pinto, Maverick, and the Lincoln Continental Mark III. Maverick eclipsed Mustang’s first year sales numbers at way over a half million units because it was more affordable than the Volkswagen Beetle and had so much more to offer for a base sticker price of just $1,995.
As the 1970s wore on, tensions grew between Iacocca and Henry Ford II. By 1978, Iacocca and Mr. Ford were at a personal point of no return.
Out of a job for the first time in 32 years, Iacocca kicked around the idea of Global Motors – a consortium of different automakers involving Europe, Japan, and the United States. Iacocca learned such a merger would be impossible due to anti-trust laws at the time. Chrysler was looking for someone to steer it out of trouble and onto a path of prosperity. After a series of very quiet interviews, Iacocca made the decision to join Chrysler in 1979.
In the wake of decades in the public eye, Lee Iacocca keeps a very low profile these days in the relative peace and quiet of his Southern California home. At age 89, Lee Iacocca still has a lot to say about automobiles and his experiences.
Although it would be easy for Lee Iacocca to take heavy credit for the Mustang, he shares credit with the people who teamed up to make it happen. He views the Mustang as a once-in-a-lifetime experience for any car company and takes pride in a phenomenon still with us in the Mustang’s 50th year.
For information about the Iacocca Family Foundation, visit www.iacoccafoundation.org
Read the entire story, which includes more photos and a more thorough biography of Lee Iacocca in the June Issue of Cars & Parts, on sale now.
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