Notable comments, quotes and reaction through the years about former Chrysler CEO and Chairman Lee Iacocca, who died July 2, from former colleagues, journalists and others:
"He's like Babe Ruth. He hit home runs and he struck out a lot. But he always filled the ball park."
-- The late Ben E. Bidwell, Chrysler’s retired vice chairman, in The New York Times, Dec. 18, 1992.
“His talent knew almost no bounds. While his ‘car guy’ gut feel failed to evolve in the late 1980s and the early 1990s, (he was convinced that Americans would always love vinyl roofs, Greek-temple grilles, opera windows with little gold stripes, and fake wire wheel covers), he was nearly infallible when those design trends ruled.”
-- Bob Lutz, former president of Chrysler, on Iacocca in his 2013 book, “Icons and Idiots”
“How much pasta can the man eat, anyway?”
-- UAW President Douglas Fraser, the lone Chrysler director to vote 'no' on a new three-year employment contract between Iacocca and Chrysler at the end of 1983 that effectively tripled Iacocca’s salary.
"The public debate about Iacocca has been running since 1964, when he appeared on the covers of Time and Newsweek for inventing the Ford Mustang, while other (more retiring, less conniving -- your choice) executives remained anonymous. But Iacocca has never played by the same rules as everyone else. Even his bad ideas are bold, brash, and visionary. How many other CEOs would have tried to merge their companies with Volkswagen, Fiat, and Ford? Linking up with one of them would have solved some short-term financial problems. But Chrysler could not have emerged as a productivity and design leader if it were tied to another automaker."
-- Journalist Alex Taylor III, in Fortune, on June 24, 1996.
“He has become an industrial folk hero in a supposedly post-industrial age, and more improbably still, a corporate capitalist with populist appeal… admired by working class and ruling class alike.”
-- Time, April 1, 1985
"I felt like his $100,000-a-year bride, a woman who received a salary. I was there to fulfill what Lee wanted … [After he retired in 1992] it was like hell. He was so unhappy. And there was never any time for me. . . . It was just Lee, Lee, Lee, all day long, all night long. . . . His favorite saying was: 'You pick one out of the herd and try to make it work.' . . . That's what I was -- I was picked out of the herd."
-- Restaurateur Darrien Earle, Iacocca’s third wife, who received a $100,000-a-year household allowance from him but still chafed under the restrictions of corporate life, to a Detroit radio station after the couple divorced in 1995.
"Lee Iacocca was truly bigger than life and he left an indelible mark on Ford, the auto industry and our country. On a personal note, I will always appreciate how encouraging he was to me at the beginning of my career. He was one of a kind."
-- Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford
"The world has lost a great leader. I always asked myself, 'What would Lee do?' when faced with tough choices. He was a true visionary and the last authentic automotive tycoon; a tough minded but big hearted man of action."
-- Jim Press, former head of Toyota Motor Sales USA and former president and vice chairman of Chrysler LLC
"He played a historic role in steering Chrysler through crisis and making it a true competitive force. He was one of the great leaders of our company and the auto industry as a whole. ... Lee gave us a mindset that still drives us today – one that is characterized by hard work, dedication and grit. ... His legacy is the resiliency and unshakeable faith in the future that live on in the men and women of FCA who strive every day to live up to the high standards he set."
-- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles statement
“Lee Iacocca loved America, the auto industry and the people who make it run — from the shop floor to the showroom.”
-- Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors