Philip Caldwell, the successor to Lee Iacocca at Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F), died at his home in Connecticut earlier this week. Caldwell was credited with bringing the U.S. automaker back from the brink of ruin in the 1980s, and was behind the Ford Taurus, which turned out to be one of the best-selling cars in the company’s history. He was 93.
Caldwell made headlines in the late 1970s when the leadership of Ford was in flux. Known as the most trusted lieutenant of Henry Ford II, Caldwell was nicknamed “The Prince” and became vice chairman of the company, in effect a superior of Iacocca’s overnight. Tension reigned for the following year until Iacocca refused to tolerate further demotions and left for Chrysler.
Caldwell, unflappable in the face of crisis, steered the company through difficult times in the 1980s before coming up with the Taurus, one of the all-time hits of the Ford brand. Bill Ford, executive chairman of the automaker, described Caldwell’s impact on the company as “remarkable.”