Joseph Cappy Biography

Joseph (Joe) E. Cappy

Joseph E. Cappy, 82, was the last President and Chief Executive Officer of American Motors Corporation before the company was acquired by Chrysler Corporation in 1987.

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in Accounting and Marketing, Cappy began his automotive career with the Ford Motor Company, first serving as an accountant in the infamous Edsel Division. Over the next 26 years, Cappy would serve in a variety of management functions at Ford, culminating in his appointment as General Marketing Manager of the Lincoln/Mercury Division.

In 1982, the country’s smallest major automaker, American Motors, wooed Cappy away from Ford and named him Vice President of the Marketing Group. After accepting increasing levels of responsibility over the next few years and joining the Board of Directors, he was appointed as President and CEO four short years after joining AMC.

Under Cappy’s leadership, American Motors changed the entire automotive landscape with the introduction of the 1984 Jeep Cherokee, a compact SUV that took the market by storm.  Cappy also oversaw the development and launch of what most consider the quintessential Jeep, the Wrangler, a descendent of original World War II military Jeep.

Upon Chrysler’s acquisition of American Motors on August 7, 1987, Cappy was named Vice President of the newly formed Jeep/Eagle Division. He was later named Vice President of Brand Development, then Vice President of International Operations, and finally, Vice President of Chrysler Technologies and Rental Car Operations, with the responsibility to spin-off those operations considered non-core essential to the automaker.

In 1998, Cappy was appointed CEO, Director and President of the DollarThrifty Group, where he spun Dollar Rent a Car and Thrifty Car Rental from Chrysler in a successful IPO and placed the merged companies as a newly independent company on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol NYSE: DTG. Cappy retired in 2003 after leading DTG to a strong position in the rental car industry as the value leader.  Hertz acquired DTG in November 2012.

Joe Cappy lives with his wife Patty in their homes in Harbor Springs, Michigan, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Cappy served his country as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves, and retired as a Captain.