Lee Iacocca, ‘father’ of Ford Mustang who helped save Chrysler from bankruptcy, dead at 94: reports

Lee Iacocca, father of the Ford Mustang and former chairman of Chrysler, has died of natural causes at his home in Bel Air, Calif., his family said Tuesday. He was 94. Born in Allentown, Pa., on Oct. 15, 1924 as the child of Italian immigrants, Iacocca started working at Ford Motor Company in 1946 and is heralded as the leader of the team that created the first Mustang in 1964. He ascended to CEO of the company in 1970 but was fired by Henry Ford Jr. in 1978. The auto mogul later slammed Ford, saying in his autobiography, “If a guy is over 25% jerk, he’s in trouble. And Henry was 95%.” Iacocca later reiterated the same sentiments to Time magazine in 2001, saying Ford was cruel, crude and paranoid. The famed businessman moved on to Chrysler Corp. in 1978 and became the CEO a year later, pulling the company out of bankruptcy after taking it over. He persuaded the federal government to provide the company a $1.2 billion loan in 1979 and made major cuts to the workforce, slashing wages, including his own which he shrunk to $1 a year and closing plants. He also introduced fuel-efficient cars and the minivan. His efforts were successful and Chrysler made a comeback, profiting $20 million. In 1983, Iacocca announced that Chrysler had begun paying back the $1.2 billion in government-backed loans that helped save the company, a feat he was able to accomplish seven years early. (The company eventually became part of today’s Fiat Chrysler in 2014.) Iacocca became a household figure when he appeared in a number of Chrysler TV commercials with the catchy slogan daring American consumers: “If you can find a better car, buy it.” The turnaround and Iacocca’s bravado made him a media star. His “Iacocca: An Autobiography,” released in 1984, and his “Talking Straight,” released in 1988, were best-sellers. He even appeared on “Miami Vice.” A January 1987 Gallup Poll of potential Democratic presidential candidates for 1988 showed Iacocca was preferred by 14 percent, second only to U.S. Sen. Gary Hart of Colorado. He continually said no to the “draft Iacocca” talk. Also during that time, he headed the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, presiding over the renovation of the statue, completed in 1986, and the reopening of nearby Ellis Island as a museum of immigration in 1990. Iacocca is survived by two daughters and eight grandchildren.

As a Mustang owner (on my third one, actually), I’m sorry to hear of his passing.  But, he lived a full life, and left a rich legacy.  Thanks Lee.  R.I.P.

Ford Just Built its 10 Millionth Mustang

Since March of 1964, Ford’s been building Mustangs. Today, 54 years after production began, the 10 millionth one rolled off the assembly line. As a tribute to the first production Mustang, Ford made sure the milestone car was a white convertible with a V-8 and a manual transmission. To celebrate, Ford held events at its Dearborn headquarters and Flat Rock Assembly Plant that included flyovers from three P-51 Mustang fighter planes and a parade of Mustangs from every generation that drove from Dearborn to Flat Rock. And in case that 10-million-Mustang sales figure isn’t impressive enough, Ford claims the Mustang has been the world’s best-selling sports car for the last three years. Over the last 50 years, Ford says it’s also been the best-selling sports car in the U.S. Having just driven the 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt, it’s clear the original pony car has come a long way in the last 54 years. Even the regular GT now makes 460 hp, up significantly from the first Mustang’s 164. An independent suspension has also transformed the Mustang into a legitimate sports car. “Mustang is the heart and soul of this company and a favorite around the world,” said Jim Farley, Ford’s head of global markets, in a release. “I get the same thrill seeing a Mustang roll down a street in Detroit, London, or Beijing that I felt when I bought my first car—a 1966 Mustang coupe that I drove across the country as a teenager. Mustang is a smile-maker in any language.”

Agreed!!  As a life-long Mustang owner, I can tell you they certainly make me smile!  To see photos from this event yesterday in Michigan, click on the text above.    🙂

2018 Ford Mustang adds power, reduces 0-60 mph time

The 2018 Ford Mustang GT will be the fastest ever 0-60 mph – although Ford won’t say precisely how fast — thanks to a new 10-speed automatic transmission, electronic drag mode and upgraded 5.0-liter V8 engine. The V8’s output rises to 460 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, from 435 and 400 for the 2017 Mustang. The new engine and transmission are among a number of updates Ford gave the Mustang to keep fresh this year. A new drag strip mode manages the drivetrain electronically so torque doesn’t drop as the transmission runs quickly though its gears. “You get peak torque straight through,” Mustang chief engineer Carl Widmann said. The 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo engine also gets quicker, hitting 60 mph in what Ford promises will be less than 5.0 seconds. The 2.3-liter adds torque and the 10-speed automatic, which has been available in the F-150 pickup since last fall, and 30 more pound feet of torque, to 350. Ford has dropped the less powerful 3.7-liter V6 that was previously the Mustang’s base engine. The GT’s 0-60 time requires an asterisk: Being the fastest Mustang GT does not make the new model the necessarily fastest Mustang ever, just the fastest with the base V8. High-output V8s in Shelby models of the Mustang have included the 662-horsepower Shelby GT500 and the current 526-horsepower Shelby GT350. However, the claimed sub-4.0 second time should give the Mustang GT an edge over its archrival, the V8 Chevrolet Camaro SS, which reports 4.0 seconds flat. Drag mode is one of five performance programs the 2018 Mustang will offer. The new 10-speed transmission has quicker shifts and better low-speed response than the outgoing six-speed automatic. Ford will reveal prices and fuel economy for the 2018 Mustang closer to when it goes on sale this fall.

Petty’s Garage announces 2017 ‘King’ edition Ford Mustang GT

Petty’s Garage announced on Wednesday that they will build 500 “King Edition” 2017 Ford Mustang GT models. The builds also include 43 cars that will feature a special silver scheme to celebrate Richard Petty’s 80th birthday in July 2017. This is the third year that Petty’s Garage and Ford have come together for the special Mustangs honoring “The King,” as the 2017 builds are set to be the largest stock to date. The 2017 King Edition Mustangs will feature 670 horsepower and a full warranty through Ford, while the Premier, 825 horsepower editions will offer a third-party powertrain warranty for three years/36,000 miles. Petty’s Garage will also introduce a King EcoBoost model next year, which includes the addition of a race spoiler and a signature center exhaust system. All models will be available for purchase at local Ford dealerships nationwide.

If only…    To  see an artists depiction of what this beast will look like, click on the text above.     🙂

Who was really the first Ford Mustang owner?

Who was first is often hard to determine, and attempts to settle the question can raise hackles. Whether Ron Hermann was the earliest Mustang buyer – or maybe it was actually Gail Wise – may not be as important as identifying the first European to set foot in the Americas, but some Mustang lovers care deeply. To them, it’s right up there with the question of who was first to the North Pole – Cook or Peary? – or whether Gustave Whitehead flew before the Wright Brothers. Ron Hermann of Warminster, Pa., says he was the first buyer. Although some details are fuzzy after more than 50 years, he does remember that he was 17 years old when Barr Ford of Philadelphia took delivery of a blue Mustang convertible. The car was not available for immediate delivery as it was scheduled for display at local dealerships. Barr’s general manager, a friend of Hermann’s father, let the teen see the car more than a week before the official introduction date of April 17. He committed on the spot – it was April 8, as he recalls – and put $100 down toward the purchase. For seemingly endless weeks he followed the car from dealership to dealership as it was displayed on a turntable, warning onlookers not to touch his car. The original bill of sale has been lost, but if he actually purchased the car on April 8, he would be the first Mustang buyer. Hermann’s title is dated May 14. Today, the car has 17,000 miles on the clock and still wears its original tires. It’s a true survivor and a beautiful example of what has come to called a ‘64½ Mustang (though they were officially 1965 models). Gail Wise of Park Ridge, Ill., may have been buyer number one — and Ford agrees. Hermann would contest that, but we can say with some certainty that Wise was first to drive a Mustang on the street. A recent graduate on her way to becoming a schoolteacher, Wise went shopping for a car with her parents on April 15, 1964 — two days before Lee Iacocca was to unveil the car at the New York World’s Fair. She was disappointed to find no convertibles at Johnson Ford in Chicago. Not wanting to lose a customer, the salesman led her to the back of the dealership to show her something that had just come in. The new arrival was a baby blue Mustang convertible. It was love at first sight. Wise recalls the salesman said he wasn’t supposed to sell the car, but greed apparently got the better of him, and within hours Wise was driving the streets of Chicago and waving to the car’s admirers. When Iacocca revealed the car to the world two days later, he didn’t know he’d been upstaged by a Chicago schoolteacher. The first Mustang sold almost certainly wasn’t the first produced. Serial number 100001, the first of the sequence, is in the Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Mich. But Bob Casey, the museum’s former curator of transportation, doesn’t believe it was first built, reasoning that the first car produced would probably have been a coupe, a less complex vehicle. In other words, when it comes to automotive production and sales history more than half century old, we only know that we don’t know very much.

Indeed..  As a proud Mustang owner myself, I love stories like this!  To see a photo of Gail and her treasure, click on the text above.      🙂

The 2016 Ford Mustang Cobra Jet is ready to race

The new Ford Mustang’s independent rear suspension may make it a better car just about anywhere on earth, but there’s one stretch of road where the solid axle is still king – and it’s a quarter-mile long. The 2016 Cobra Jet unveiled at the 2015 SEMA show is a factory-built drag racer that can go straight from the dealership to the strip. It’s been stripped out, then built back up with a 8.50-second roll cage, fuel cell, Corbeau racing seats, 5-point harness, 3-speed automatic transmission, and a coil-over suspension. The engine is based on the Mustang GT’s 5.0-liter V8, and shares 75 percent of its parts, but gets a Whipple supercharger from the Ford Performance parts catalog that bumps its power up to around 575 hp, plus an electric water pump from the Ford C-Max hybrid to cool it down between runs. But that kind of power means nothing if you can’t keep the Cobra Jet’s stock Hoosier slicks on the pavement, so Ford swapped in four-link 9-inch live rear axle, which is just what you want underneath the Christmas Tree…lights, that is. As with past Cobra Jets, Ford is only making 50, split evenly between Oxford White and Deep Impact blue this time around. Certified for several drag racing classes, the starting price for the very street-illegal ‘Stang is $99,990, and the only options are a Cobra Jet graphics package and a wheelie bar for $1,995 each. And while many of the parts used to create it are available from the Ford Performance catalog for DIY-types, that rear axle is exclusive to the Cobra Jet for now.

To see photos and videos of this beast, click on the text above.  Excellent!!   🙂

Leaked pricing info suggests 2016 Mustang Shelby GT350 will start at $49,955

The Ford Motor Company will have a new performance bargain on its hands if leaked pricing information for the new Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 proves accurate. When it goes on sale later this year, the latest Mustang variant will bring to the table a new 5.2-liter V-8 with a flat-plane crank, unique body modifications, more than 500 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, plus much, much more—including perhaps a very reasonable $49,995 price tag. That pricing includes Ford’s standard $825 destination charge as well as a $1,300 gas guzzler tax. According to the same leaked info, which first surfaced on enthusiast site Mustang6G, pricing for the even more potent GT350R will start at $63,495, once again including an $825 destination charge and $1,300 gas guzzler tax. In case you’ve forgotten, this model benefits from a slew of aerodynamic tweaks, chassis improvements, and the cutting of weight compared to the standard GT350. Buyers of the standard model have several worthy options to add like the Tech and Track Packages. The Tech Package is said to be priced from $7,500 and adds things like power-adjustable seats, an upgraded audio system, an 8.0-inch touchscreen display and dual-zone climate control. The Track Package, meanwhile, adds things like magnetic ride suspension, stiffer springs and additional coolers, and is said to be priced from $6,500. The GT350R is expected to feature most of the upgrades offered in the GT350’s Track Package as standard but if you want some electronic goodies on this model similar to those offered in the GT350’s Tech Package, Ford will offer a special Electronics Package for a claimed $3,000. It’s not clear yet what will be included in this. Both the GT350 and GT350R are actually being introduced for the 2015 model year, though just 137 of these ’15 models will be built to honor the original 1965 Shelby GT350 built by Shelby American. Once this initial batch of cars is built, Ford will switch over to 2016 models that will be built and sold in higher volumes. Stay tuned for an update.

We definitely will!  And, how great is this?!?  Go Ford!!    🙂