Both models went on to rule the roads of the United States and elsewhere for many years.
In 1984, Iacocca established the Iacocca Family Foundation with his two daughters, Kathryn and Lia, in memory of Mary, which now currently works to fund research programs and projects that will help find a cure.
Born to Italian immigrant parents in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1924, Mr. Iacocca began his career as an engineer at the Ford Motor Company in 1946 In 1964 he cemented his place in history by designing and launching the Ford Mustang, which sold 419,000 in its first year, one of America's most iconic cars. He eventually became president of Ford until conflict with the company's chairman, Henry Ford, Jr., pushed him out in 1978. "He was flawed in many ways but when I rated the CEOs I knew, he came out on top".
"I didn't always agree with him, but he was a brilliant visionary", said Bob Lutz, former Chrysler president, who worked closely with Iaccoca and clashed with him at times. We're not finished with you. "Well, when you've been kicked in the head like we have, you learn pretty quick to put first things first".
Iacocca later became the CEO of Chrysler in 1979, a position he held until he retired in 1992. He is credited with saving the company from bankruptcy. Chrysler repaid the loans early and the Treasury made money on the stock it received as part of bailout packages.
The moves, along with Chrysler's introduction of fuel-efficient cars and the minivan, led to a corporate comeback. Iacocca led Chrysler during an era in which Asian and European imports first started to make inroads into USA automakers' market share.
He was famous for his TV ads from that time, in which he said: "If you can find a better vehicle, buy it!" In 1987, Iacocca led Chrysler's efforts to buy Jeep from American Motors Corp. for $1.5 billion.
At Chrysler, Iacocca is credited, essentially, with the birth of the minivan.
Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca attends the unveiling of the new Mercedes-Benz Maybach 57S at Mercedes Benz of Beverly Hills on October 18, 2005 in Beverly Hills, California.
"He played a historic role in steering Chrysler through crisis and making it a true competitive force", FCA said in a statement.
As Shelby tells the story, his phone rang one day and the voice on the line was that of Lee Iacocca, at the time the general manager of the Ford Division.