VIDEO: Iacocca was a 'Car Guy': Former CAW President

AM800-NEWS-Lee-Iacocca

Some high praise from former CAW President Ken Lewenza Sr. for former Chrysler President Lee Iacocca.

Iacocca passed away at the age of 94 on Tuesday.

Speaking on AM800's the Morning Drive, Lewenza Sr. says Iacocca was vital in bringing the minivan to Windsor.

"Significant, significant, significant, without him, it would not have happened," he said.  "In fact without him, there would be no Chrysler Corporation. it is as simple as that."

Iacocca travelled to Washington in 1979 to meet with Congress to offer $1.5-billion in bank loans for Chrysler to save the company from bankrupcty in the early 1980s during the recession.

Workers were forced to take major concessions, but Chrysler managed to repay the loans early.

"He was a car guy, that's the best way to describe him, not all CEOs are what you call a car guy," says Lewenza.  "I would suggest there hasn't been a real car guy since him, that really started from the ground up and became a chairman, became a president."

Iacocca was the face of Chrysler Corporation and became famous for saying 'if you can find a better car than Chrysler, go buy it," which Lewenza says was bold at the time.

The cause of death was complications from Parkinson's disease.

FCA issued the following statement regarding Iacocca's death: 

"The Company is saddened by the news of Lee Iacocca's passing. 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.  He also played a profound and tireless role on the national stage as a business statesman and philanthropist.

Lee gave us a mindset that still drives us today -- one that is characterized by hard work, dedication and grit. We are committed to ensuring that Chrysler, now FCA, is such a company, an example of commitment and respect, known for excellence as well as for its contribution to society.  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.”