Philip Caldwell, Ford Motor Co.'s first chief executive officer who wasn't a member of the founder's family, and who gambled the automaker's future on the Taurus sedan in the 1980s, has died. He was 93.
He died July 10 at his home in New Canaan, Conn., his family said in a statement provided by the company. The cause was complications of a stroke.
Caldwell followed in the footsteps of more famous executives. He became president of Ford in 1978 after Henry Ford II, grandson of founder Henry Ford, fired Lee Iacocca and chose Caldwell to lead the Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker, first as CEO in 1979 and as chairman the following year.
He was "remarkably cool and resolute in a crisis," wrote Paul Ingrassia and Joseph B. White in their 1994 book, "Comeback: The Fall and Rise of the American Automobile Industry."
As president and then CEO, Caldwell presided over a turnaround. Ford endured almost $3.3 billion of losses during two U.S. recessions from 1980 through 1982, as well as questions over the design and safety of its Pinto model.
On his watch as CEO, Ford invested $3 billion on the aerodynamic Taurus, which became the best-selling car in the United States. Caldwell unveiled the sedan in January 1985, just before he retired and was replaced as CEO by Donald Petersen. The vehicle went on sale later that year as a 1986 model.
Caldwell remained on Ford's board until 1990.
With his wife of almost 68 years, the former Betsey C. Clark, Caldwell had three children: Lawrence C. Caldwell of New Canaan; Lucy Caldwell-Stair of Newton, Massachusetts; and Desiree Caldwell Armitage of Concord, Massachusetts.
He is also survived by six grandchildren and five great- grandchildren.