National Geographic : 1983 Jul
Born-again mogul of Detroit, Lee Iacocca (above) stands as the most visible champion of the American auto industry. lacocca rose to the presidency of Ford SMotor Company after conceiving the enormously successful Mustang, then was suddenly fired by chairmanHenry FordII in 1978. That year lacocca was named president of a badly founderingChrysler Corporation and became chairman in 1979. He got a quick fix from 1.2 billion dollarsin federal loan guarantees,then closed 13 of 47 plants and slashed employment. In elaboratelystaged television commercials (left), celebrities such as Frank Sinatra,Ricardo Montalban, and lacocca himself pitch Chrysler'snew fuel-efficient models. Reboundingfrom a 1.7-billion-dollardeficit in 1979, Chryslerposted a profit of 170 million dollars in 1982.