Former Chrysler CEO and Chairman John J. Riccardo has passed away at the age of 91, Automotive News reports. Riccardo, who was nicknamed ‘The Flamethrower’, rose quickly through Chrysler’s ranks after joining the automaker in 1959 as a finance executive before abruptly retiring in 1979.
Following his hiring in 1959, Riccardo was promoted to finance executive of Chrysler’s international operations staff and was then bumped up to general manager of its export-import arm in 1960. He later served as vice president of Chrysler Canada, assistant general manager of Dodge, Chrysler and Plymouth and vice president of marketing for Chrysler. Finally, he was promoted to Chrysler’s vice president of domestic operations in 1967 and then later vice president of its U.S. and Canadian automotive businesses.
Riccardo was well-known for his extremely rapid rise through the ranks at Chrysler. Following his retirement, he paved the way for well-known Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca to take over the reigns, who had filled the role of president and COO for less than a year. By this time Chrysler was in dire financial straits, which along with health issues contributed to his decision to retire.
Read Automotive News’ full bio of Riccardo at this link.