October 15, 1924 – Lee Iacocca is born

On this day in 1924 one of the most influential men in modern American automotive history was born. Lido Anthony “Lee” Iacocca was responsible for many incredible feats throughout the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s for Ford and later Chrysler. Iacocca joined Ford as an engineer in 1946 before moving into sales and marketing. One of his first successful campaigns included the “56 for ‘56” events. This allowed for people to have $56 monthly payments when they put 20 percent down for a new 1956 Ford. He became VP and general manager at Ford in 1960. He would go on to participate in the design and launch of two iconic Ford vehicles, the Mustang and the Lincoln Mark III. He was promoted to president in 1970 where he oversaw the introduction of the Ford Pinto, a project he started working on in 1968. Despite great success, Iacocca often faced disputes with Henry Ford II and was fired from Ford in 1978, despite $2 billion profits. Following his release Chrysler pursued him, as the company was currently floundering. Once at the helm of Chrysler he introduced numerous vehicles that helped make the company extremely profitable, most notably, the K-cars, including the Dodge Omni, and the famous minivan, the Plymouth Voyager and Dodge Caravan. He also engineered a government bailout for Chrysler in 1979, which was his first action as the head of the company and the move that saved Chrysler. Today Iacocca lives in Bel Air, California. Iacocca with President Clinton in 1993

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