Quotes from Lee Iacocca about U.S. leadership, borrowing money and Henry Ford

(Reuters) - Lee Iacocca was known for never holding back an opinion. Here are a few of his notable quotes:

FILE PHOTO: Former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca (R) and Unique Mobility, Inc. Chairman Ray Geddes pose with two of their electric vehicles, a commuter car and scooter, outside company headquarters in Golden, Colorado, July 24, 1997. REUTERS/Gary Caskey/File Photo

* “This is the day that makes the last three miserable years all seem worthwhile. We at Chrysler borrow money the old-fashioned way. We pay it back.”

- His 1983 speech announcing Chrysler, now part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles FCHA.MI, was paying back the $1.2 billion in government-backed loans that helped save the company. The money was paid back seven years early.

“In my book, if you’re not No. 1, you’ve got to innovate.”

- Discussing the genesis of the torrid-selling Chrysler minivan in his autobiography “Iacocca.”

* “If a guy is over 25% jerk, he’s in trouble. And Henry was 95%.”

- A 2001 Time magazine interview on Henry Ford II, who fired him in 1978 after 32 years with Ford Motor Co F.N. In his autobiography, Iacocca described Ford, head of the car company and the family dynasty, as cruel, crude and paranoid.

* “A fiasco.”

- From a 2007 CBS News interview describing Chrysler’s 1998 merger with German automaker Daimler-Benz after he had turned over the company a few years earlier to hand-picked successor Robert Eaton. He called the selection of Eaton the “worst decision I ever made.”

* “We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us blind and we can’t even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, ‘Stay the course’ ... I hardly recognize this country anymore.”

- The first page of his 2007 book “Where Have All the Leaders Gone?,” which was especially critical of President George W. Bush

* “I spent 24 hours with Snoop Dogg and didn’t understand a word he said to me the whole time.”

- Telling an interviewer about the Chrysler commercials he made with the rapper in 2005.

Compiled by Bill Trott; Editing by Diane Craft and Lisa Shumaker