A look back at some of Lee Iacocca’s memorable quotes:
"If you keep beating that drum, in the end, the customer's got to try your car. And when he does, he'll decide whether you're just shitting him or delivering. I think it's time to start beating the drum ... I always go after the leader. Early in my life, GM was the leader. So when I was at Ford, we went after Chevrolet. Now Honda's the leader -- so I took them on. What should I compare myself with, the Yugo? ... We shipped a lot of crap in 1980; by 1985, it was much better. We think we're really pressuring Honda now."
-- Iacocca, in a January 1991 interview with Playboy, on Chrysler's latest television spots that claimed Chrysler cars were better than Honda or Toyota. Iacocca had also been storming the country and taking shots at mostly Japanese automakers, which were stealing share from the Detroit 3.
“The Depression turned me into a materialist. Years later, when I graduated from college, my attitude was: ‘Don’t bother me with philosophy. I want to make ten thousand a year by the time I’m 25, and then I want to be a millionaire.’”
-- Iacocca, in his 1984 autobiography
“Every kid wants to grow up to be a cowboy, and I got to be one. It’s been a hell of a ride, but nobody gets to be a cowboy forever. And that includes me.”
-- Iacocca, his voice cracking with emotion, as he bade farewell to Chrysler shareholders on May 14, 1992, at his last annual meeting as chairman and CEO, in Auburn Hills, Mich. He retired at the end of 1992.
“People have been asking me my biggest challenges, accomplishments and thrills, but why look back? I treasure my role in bringing out the Mustang, the Chrysler turnaround, the Statue of Liberty project and the ongoing minivan revolution. But the biggest moments of all, the ones I’m the proudest of and the ones I hope someone ties my name to someday, lie in the days to come and where the company goes from here. We’re really only custodians of the present, but we do have a big hand in creating the future. It’s not the big tree you cut down as it is all the little ones you plant along the way.”
-- Iacocca, suspending the verbal shots he normally reserves for Japanese competition and government fiscal ineptness to reveal personal thoughts with shareholders at Chrysler’s annual meeting on May 14, 1992, in Auburn Hills, Mich. It was his last annual meeting as company chairman and CEO. He retired at the end of 1992.
"It sounds like we're talking in a tomb. I wonder if someone is trying to tell us something."
-- Iacocca, holding his first product meeting in the Rotunda, Chrysler's vast styling dome in Highland Park, Mich. -- known for poor acoustics -- after being named president and COO of the ailing company on Nov. 2, 1978.
''I think America is getting an inferiority complex about Japan. Everything from Japan is perfect. Everything from America is lousy ... Now that's got to stop.”
-- Iacocca, in a late 1980s TV commercial
"Once, in an interview, I was asked about the recognition of Chrysler products in Japan, so I said, 'Jesus Christ, they certainly know the Jeep -- they saw enough of them in World War II!' You know what I really wanted to say? I wanted to say, 'But they always saw the ass end of the Jeep -- running over them.' Now that would be Japan bashing, right?"
-- Iacocca, in a January 1991 interview with Playboy, on his use of fiery words that rekindled the anti-Japanese sentiment in the U.S. in the 1940s.
"Those guys need me. Anybody who builds a car this bad can use some help."
-- Iacocca, joking to his friends in college about the bad cluster gear in the transmission in his beat-up 1938 Ford, on his early passion to go work for Ford, in his 1984 biography.
“I don’t need a $100 million mistake. Try to make it a $5 million mistake if you have to make one.”
-- Iacocca, in a 1983 interview with Time, on his demands on his top managers.
"I know Trump fairly well. Now that's an ego that's gone screw-loose, gone haywire. What the business establishment of this country has to do is get away from this new financial-transaction mentality. It used to be that Wall Street, the financial markets and the banks were there to promote and fund the companies that produced goods and created jobs. Now they've taken on a life of their own: 'What's the play? Where can we make a fast buck?' What we really need to do in this country is get back to the factory floors."
Iacocca, in a 1991 interview with Playboy magazine, when asked about the business world and its leaders at the time, and specifically Donald Trump, already a wildly famous real estate deal-maker and best-selling author.