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Donald Petersen, Longtime Ford CEO, Passes Away at Age 97

We’ve just said goodbye to an automotive industry giant, Donald E. Petersen, who passed away this week at the age of 97 at his home in Bloomfield Hills, near Detroit.

Petersen was a big part of Ford Motor Company for over 40 years and led the company as chairman and CEO from 1985 to 1990. His leadership during challenging times has left a lasting mark on the industry.

During Petersen’s time in charge, Ford came out with the Taurus in 1985. This car was a huge hit and helped set new standards for what American cars could be.

The Taurus became one of the best-selling cars in America in the 1980s, thanks to Petersen’s vision and drive to compete with top-quality cars from Japan.

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But perhaps Petersen is best remembered for saving the Mustang from a major change that would have shifted away from what fans loved about the car.

He listened to the voices of Mustang lovers who didn’t want the car to lose its classic rear-wheel-drive V-8 setup. Instead of moving forward with the unwanted changes, he redirected the efforts toward creating the Ford Probe. This move showed Petersen’s ability to listen and adapt to what people really wanted.

Petersen also led Ford through some significant deals, like buying stakes in Aston Martin and acquiring Jaguar Cars, which added some exciting luxury cars to Ford’s lineup.

Petersen’s hard work didn’t go unnoticed. He was honored with several awards, including an induction into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1992. These awards recognized his role in pushing the auto industry forward and making cars that people were proud to drive.

People who worked with him remember Petersen for his straightforward problem-solving and his knack for bringing people together to work as a team. His leadership style was just as important as his business decisions.

Donald Petersen leaves behind his wife, a daughter and son, a granddaughter, and two great-granddaughters. While the family has kept the funeral details private, Donald E. Petersen’s legacy will surely live on in the stories of those who admire innovation, dedication, and the drive to move forward.

His impact on Ford and the car world will be remembered for generations. Farewell, Mr. Petersen, and thank you for your bold leadership and vision.

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