February 2018, I completed 20 years of my driving career 🙂 and I realized that as my first drivers license finally expired. Even after driving a plethora of cars in last 20 odd years, I still haven’t laid my hands on my dream car which happens to be a Ford Mustang (without any doubts). A couple of years back as soon as it was launched in India, I had a very light tinkle in my eyes and I end up buying the “Autobiography” of Mustang’s Dad – Lee Iacocca, the guy who made it possible. It has been my favorite for last three decades, loved Mustang in so many western movies that I must have seen in last as many years. Unfortunately it is so steeply priced in India that it happens to be way more expensive than the price of the house I live in currently. So there goes my dream out of the window, I haven’t yet touched one, let alone sitting in one or driving it. This book also reminded me of my first job back in Delhi in the mid 90’s when I joined my cousin, who had a four year old son back then. Throughout the day, the only thing we did was talk about Cars, Bikes and Movies. We spoke so much about Cars (mostly Mustang) and after they moved to US of A, we totally lost contact for a decade or more. But, one fine day I got a call from my Sister in Law on the first day of his college, she asked me a simple question to guess which car he picked up for his big day 🙂 and I replied without blinking an eye within a fraction of a second “Mustang?” and she was like “How do you know?”. Heck! Even the main character from the last book I read owned and cherished a Mustang (Amir’s dad from “The Kite Runner”).
Lee Iacocca’s Dad moved from Italy to United States in the year 1902 and this is their story from rags to riches. A simple migrant who lived a hand to mouth life, yet had big dreams. How they make it big and fail again because of the first world war for the first time and then again because of the great depression. Before he finally makes it big by landing a job in Ford Motor company and works under Henry Ford (II) for as good as 32 years. During his tenure with the company, Ford actually witnessed the best profitable years in the history of their car manufacturing, yet Henry Ford fired him just because of his own whims and fancies. You’ve got to read the book to know the details of the unbelievable turn of events when the Chairman of an empire feels threatened by his own President of all of eight years in the company. On top of that, how Henry Ford actually ran the company like a private business, even after having five hundred thousand employees at one point of time. I loved the way the whole book is narrated in first person, it actually feels like you are hearing Lee’s life story from his own mouth, sitting right in front of you. William Novak has done a commendable job, usually Biographies are full of information yet they are pretty boring but this one is totally class apart. I must add that an Autobiography like this, can only be written in America which has so much truth, facts and name calling that in any other country they must have got sued and book debarred from selling. On top of that this was a best seller to even Iacocca’s surprise.
Ford Mustang chapter, the history and the making of the Car is the high point of the book. I anyways love that car so much and this book has upped it further couple of notches in my eyes. The way he has written the Mustang story, his excitement is pretty visible in the writing especially the way he has narrated the little episodes that he himself could never forget. Like the story of a Fan of Mustang, who bought the sample car in an auction done by a super excited dealer to make more money before its officially launched. The guy not only out-bid all his competitors but as it was late in the night when he finally won it. He proposed to the dealer to spend the night in the showroom so he can take the car home next morning as soon as his check gets cleared by the bank :). He not only spent the night in the showroom but slept inside the car, making sure that no one else gets it. Now you see? that is the following this car had back then and even today as I am about to buy my next car, which could probably be a Ford (now), I am looking for a dealer who has a Mustang on display before finalizing my booking with them :). That ways at least I get to touch one, sit inside one and at least get to feel it once in my life time. No ways, I am looking forward to a test drive as you see my DL has already expired 😀 and in India, it still is way beyond my league.
Lee Iacocca has not only Mustang to his credit, but Ford Mark (III) and Fiesta too as more accomplished brands famous all over the world. After working and taking Ford to greater heights and after getting kicked out by Henry Ford, he took Chrysler from Bankruptcy to superb heights. The guy was a magician, no doubt on that. The story of Chrysler from shutting shop to profitable in only three years and paying back all the loans to the Govt funding, was one unbelievable story. While reading the book and after finishing it, I was actually thinking that he had everything that USA needed in a man, who should have very well become their next President. Especially the last 3-4 chapters, where he talks about why and what they should do to make America a great country again and that too when this book was written in the year 1984. His knowledge of not only economy, defense, education, social security, heath-care and so much more was totally commendable.
I bought my first iPhone after I read Steve Job’s excellent biography by Walter Isacsson and looks like I am going to buy my first Ford after this one :), unless I lay my hands on Ratan Tata’s biography to save some bucks. Which is your favorite Biography / Autobiography? And have you read this one? if not, you’ve got to read it, just shouldn’t be missed by anyone.