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He's an American legend, a straight-shooting businessman who brought Chrysler back from the brink and in the process became a media celebrity, newsmaker, and a man many had urged to run for president.
The son of Italian immigrants, Lee Iacocca rose spectacularly through the ranks of Ford Motor Company to become its president, only to be toppled eight years later in a power play that should have shattered him. But Lee Iacocca didn't get mad, he got even. He led a battle for Chrysler's survival that made his name a symbol of integrity, know-how, and guts for millions of Americans.
In his classic hard-hitting style, he tells us how he changed the automobile industry in the 1960s by creating the phenomenal Mustang. He goes behind the scenes for a look at Henry Ford's reign of intimidation and manipulation. He recounts the miraculous rebirth of Chrysler from near bankruptcy to repayment of its $1.2 billion government loan so early that Washington didn't know how to cash the check.
entire Chrysler deal for a loan of $75,000. Here, too, there were rumors that we were quietly paying off the banks that weren’t going along. These rumors encouraged the holdouts, but one by one we got them. As the number of holdouts became smaller, the pressure on each of them became overwhelming. Still, as May stretched into June, I was beginning to wonder just when this agony was finally going to stop. The most dramatic conflict of all came in Rockford, Illinois, with the American National
is. But I don’t want to get into a philosophical argument about seat belts, because that’s the ideologue’s game. We have to consider what’s practical, what works in the real world. The plain truth is that if you’re wearing a combined shoulder- and lap-belt system, it’s almost impossible to be killed under thirty miles per hour. Among other reasons, seat belts can prevent you from being knocked unconscious in a crash, which can happen even at relatively slow speeds. What really gets me is that
quickly as to preclude any pain whatsoever. I’m not sure I’d want one of those gizmos in my car. Air bags are not the answer. And in fact, since the proposed legislation never actually specifies “air bags” but only “passive restraints,” the legislation could be satisfied by passive belts—a kind of lap-and-shoulder belt that fastens automatically when the car doors are closed. These were developed by Volkswagen: you climb in underneath the shoulder harness, and the belt is fastened automatically.
life. You can aim at a duck and get it in your sights, but the duck is always moving. In order to hit the duck, you have to move your gun. But a committee faced with a major decision can’t always move as quickly as the events it’s trying to respond to. By the time the committee is ready to shoot, the duck has flown away. In addition to being decision-makers, managers also have to be motivators. When I was general manager of the Ford Division, I was invited to speak to the Sloan Fellows at MIT’s
held without most of the members, who always have a dozen other commitments at the same time. The real work is usually done by the congressional staff. I began my testimony by stating our case very simply: “I am sure you know that I do not speak alone here today. I speak for the hundreds of thousands of people whose livelihood depends on Chrysler remaining in business. It is that simple. Our one hundred forty thousand employees and their dependents, our forty-seven hundred dealers and their one