United States auto industry icon Lee Iacocca dies at 94

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Upon his return, he realised that his forte was not engineering, but marketing. He later went on to become the President of the company. Henry Ford II later described Iacocca as "an extremely intelligent product man, a super salesman" who was "too conceited, too self-centered to be able to see the broad picture", according to interview transcripts published by The Detroit News.

Lee Iacocca's greatest claim to fame, at least for collector vehicle people, is that he was the visionary Ford executive who made the Mustang happen.

In what has been described as the biggest corporate save in US business history, the straight-talking Iacocca revitalized Chrysler by closing factories, dismissing tens of thousands of employees, and slashing executive salaries, including cutting his own to a dollar a year.

He was instrumental in the creation of the Ford Mustang and the Chrysler minivan.

Lee Iacocca was also instrumental in launching other cars like the Ford Maverick - a compact auto with a four-cylinder engine built to compete with imports from Honda and Toyota. He retired as Chrysler CEO and chairman in 1992.

Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Cox Automotive's Autotrader, said Iacocca was "a giant in the automotive business and the American stage".

Iacocca was first hired as Ford's president in 1970 after starting with the company in 1946 as an engineer.

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First, though, Iacocca had to save Chrysler from looming bankruptcy.

Iacocca was credited with saving Chrysler in the late 1970s and early 1980s by first securing concessions from the United Auto Workers to guarantee loans through the federal government, and then by stringing together a series of hits for Chrysler that included the K-Car and the first minivans.

During his lifetime, he was a major figure at two of the biggest automakers in the world.

Executive-suite reorganizations in 1977 and 1978 resulted in de facto demotions of Iacocca and led to a showdown meeting on July 13, 1978, at which Ford ordered him to resign.

The son of Italian immigrants, Mr Iacocca reached a level of celebrity matched by few auto moguls - peaking when he was courted as a presidential candidate for the 1988 election.

US President Ronald Reagan appointed Iacocca as a chairman of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Centennial Commission in the 1980s and tasked Lee with raising money to restore the Statue of Liberty.

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