Chrysler Plans Private Tribute to Lee Iacocca
Lover come back
By Brendan Moore
Katie Hepler, Chrysler spokeswoman, said, “Our leadership team just wanted to welcome him home and thank him for his leadership and the pivotal role he played in our heritage.”
The affair will be held at Chrysler’s Auburn Hills, Michigan headquarters on June 26. Iacocca, a living legend in the automotive business has signaled that he will attend the event.
Iacocca was fired by a Ford at Ford Motor Co. after an extremely successful career in Dearborn and went to Chrysler in 1979. Many people had already written Chrysler off at the time as they floundered in the market, deep in debt, and with irrelevant product. They seemed irredeemable and completely doomed. Iacocca, however, was able to convince the federal government to loan Chrysler enough money for new working capital and was able to convince a skeptical American public to buy Chrysler product in the early 1980’s. By the way, Chrysler also launched a new product called the minivan during this time. Chrysler earned what was at the time a record $2.4 billion in 1984, and it all seemed to happen almost by magic.
Iacocca became chairman of Chrysler in 1985, and retired as same in 1992. All the good feelings evaporated, though, in 1995, when he joined forces with corporate activist and billionaire Kirk Kerkorian in an unsolicited $22.8 billion bid to buy Chrysler. Chrysler said it wasn’t interested in selling, and there weren’t a lot of people that thought it was a good idea in general (including myself, which I stated in a radio interview on the Marketplace business segment in 1995).
The bid effort fizzled out, but Chrysler was still angry at what they viewed as Iacocca’s betrayal, and sued him, saying that he fed Kerkorian proprietary information about Chrysler while employed as a consultant to Kerkorian.
Tentative attempts at reconciliation were started after the new century, and by 2005, Chrysler and Iacocca had accomplished a rapprochement and made up, with Iacocca appearing in some ads for Chrysler, most notably in a television commercial together with Snoop Dogg, a rapper, who was quite taken with the then-new Chrysler 300.
Apparently, all has been forgiven from both sides now.
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