Henry Ford. Alfred P. Sloan. Walter P. Chrysler. Soichiro Honda. Ferdinand Piech.
Few inventors, visionaries or executives get the chance to transform one automaker and help build the modern auto industry, but Lee Iacocca figured most prominently in the late 20th century success of two of Detroit's Big 3.
A bright, charismatic engineer turned marketing genius who conceived the Ford Mustang, stewarded Chrysler's historic U.S. rescue and 1980s turnaround and championed the minivan, Iacocca won widespread acclaim as America's most famous CEO and car salesman.
A tireless pitchman and competitor with Italian roots and a fondness for cigars, vinyl car roofs and Greek-temple grilles, he defined the role of the imperial American executive as Ford Motor Co. president and later as Chrysler chairman and CEO.
Iacocca died Tuesday, July 2, at home in Bel Air, Calif. He was 94 and had suffered from complications of Parkinson's disease.
Visitation is scheduled for 2 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 9, at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home in Clawson, Mich. The funeral is set for 11 a.m. Wednesday, July 10, at St. Hugo of the Hills in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Iacocca will be buried at White Chapel cemetery in nearby Troy, the funeral home said.
With unbound ambition forged in the Great Depression, Iacocca was destined for stardom very early in his career, when, in 1960, behind the success of a sales promotion, he became the youngest man ever to head Ford's flagship division.
Iacocca's towering public face, corporate pitches, bold leadership and straight-talking voice for the American auto industry's triumphs and challenges dominated the nation's TV sets and newsstands in the '80s and early '90s.
"I think America is getting an inferiority complex about Japan," Iacocca lamented before a group of Chrysler executives in one late 1980s TV commercial. "Everything from Japan is perfect. Everything from America is lousy ... now that's got to stop."