Cranston, RI — Bob Tasca Sr., an automotive enthusiast, Ford dealer and drag racing innovator, passed away today, his family announced. Tasca Sr. was 83 years old.
An automotive businessman for more than 60 years, Tasca achieved fame as a record-setting automotive dealer and as an internationally-known designer of high-performance race cars. Tasca Sr. is credited with helping create the Ford Thunderbolt drag racing car, and bringing the Cobra Jet 428 engine to NHRA in the 1960s.
“Bob Tasca Sr. had three important aspects to his life—his family, his friends, and Ford Motor Company,” said his grandson, Bob Tasca III. “Those were the touch points in his life and for that we’re thankful. We are grateful and privileged to have had so many years with him, and it’s hard to say goodbye.
“My grandfather has touched so many and he will live forever in the hearts of people around the world. It was his time to move on. I think he held on and fought the fight for as long as he could fight it, but clearly his passing doesn’t mark the end of the impact and influence that he’ll have on this world, that’s for sure.”
Tasca Sr. started his long relationship with Ford Motor Company on May 5, 1943, while working at a dealership. In 1953, Tasca acquired his first dealership in Bristol, R.I., and attributed his success to two elements—knowing cars and taking care of the customer.
After a hurricane destroyed his Bristol dealership, Tasca moved to East Providence, R.I., at the famous 777 Taunton Avenue address. While in East Providence, Tasca Sr. developed a friendship Carroll Shelby and became the first person to help Shelby assemble the Cobra. The two automotive legends maintained a lifelong friendship.
Tasca Sr. became a Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury dealer in Seekonk, Mass., in 1971. Under his guidance, Tasca Ford acquired a Volvo dealership in Seekonk in 2001 and built its Cranston, R.I., dealership in 2002. Several years ago, the Tasca family purchased an adjacent property that now serves as its wholesale outlet, body shop and truck center.
Tasca Sr. and his Rhode Island dealership team created their own engine, the Cobra Jet 428, from parts found in the Ford service parts catalog. Tasca’s Mustang Cobra Jet race cars were often taken to the drag strip where they defeated the competition, creating a demand for the Cobra Jet 428.
While dominating on the race track, Tasca Sr. coined the phrase, “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday,” because that was exactly what he did. Tasca Sr.’s dealership modified Mustangs on Sunday, won races, and sold those same cars in his dealership on Monday.
Tasca Sr. is also credited with helping make Ford products better than when they left the factory. His influence at Ford, as a quality consultant, resulted in years of Ford performance. Every one of Tasca Ford dealership’s vehicles was driven 200 miles by a Tasca before it was delivered to a customer as part of Tasca’s “de-bugging” plan. Tasca Sr. was also instrumental in the advent of short-term leasing, which made automobiles affordable throughout the world.
Tasca Sr. developed a tight bond with Henry Ford II during the 1940s and two men held mutual respect for each other as automotive pioneers. Ford II viewed Tasca Sr. as one of his most trusted advisors in the automotive industry.
He also wrote a well-known book in 1996 on customer service, “You Will Be Satisfied,” which remains the slogan of Tasca’s dealerships today.
Ford Motor Company asked Tasca Sr. to train more than 150,000 Ford employees and dealers, and he was the key force behind the Quality is Job 1 initiative. In his life, Tasca affected an entire generation of products and sales techniques from his dealership in Rhode Island.
“I want to thank all of his friends through these last couple of years,” said Tasca III. “He’s had some health issues and we’re so grateful for the network of people that really become part of our family and we want to thank them for their support and prayers. Many people from Ford Motor Company and the NHRA series loved being around my grandfather, and I know he loved being around them. We’re grateful for all of the support and friendship that we’ve built, and just want everyone to know that Grandpa is in a better place right now.”
Memorial services for Bob Tasca Sr. are pending.
Sources: Ford Racing PR