Talk about great Ford chief executives? Does anyone remember Donald Petersen, Ford's CEO from 1985-89?
For those of us who remember the 1970s, we remember a time when it was believed we'd never see factory high-performance cars again. On the cusp of the 1980s, the future still didn't look very good. By the end of that decade, we'd be feeling more optimistic than ever thanks to shakers and movers at Ford who made the return of performance possible.
Donald Petersen was one of those people on a team of committed individuals determined to bring muscle back to Detroit. They succeeded in ways they never could have imagined at the time.
Petersen, born in Minnesota, was a U.S Marine who served our country in World War II and Korea. He was with Ford Motor Company for 40 years. He served on Ford's Board of Directors from 1977 until he retired in 1989.
We can best remember Donald Petersen for being the rocket fuel behind ad campaigns like "Have You Driven A Ford Lately..." and the resurgence of high-performance cars at Ford during the 1980s. Petersen always inspired people by his own attitude. He prompted product planners and stylists to think about what they'd be proud to have in their own driveways, hence good looking, snappy performing Ford rides like Mustang GT, SVO, and Cobra, Escort EXP, and Thunderbird Turbo Coupe.
Petersen is also remembered for being on the original Team Mustang under Lee Iacocca's direction in the early 1960s.
We salute Donald Petersen for his positive and surely significant contributions to Ford history and the gallant return of high-performance cars and trucks to Ford showrooms everywhere.