Ford v Ferrari

Ford and Ferrari
The seed for the legendary rivalry between Ford and Ferrari was sowed in the 1960s when US purchasing habits changed. Youth were seen as the key to auto industry growth who had extra disposable income to spend on cars, clothes and homes, unlike their parents who had lived through World War II. 
James Mangold’s film “Ford v Ferrari” showed the rivalry. The movie also has won two Oscar awards. Most of the movie’s plot was based on true facts, very few were added to the plot to make it entertaining.

The Drama

Henry Ford II
 In 1962, when Ford was coming off a major sales downfall due to some failed products and the growing popularity of rivals. Top executives of Ford convinced the CEO Henry Ford II that a race car was the answer to turn the tables, shown clearly in the movie. Ford at the time didn’t have any sports cars in their portfolio. That’s when the idea of purchasing Ferrari came up, which in those days was selling street-legal race cars to fund their motorsports program.
Enzo Ferrari
In 1963, after months of negotiation, an agreement seemed to be near. Ford would pay millions to Enzo Ferrari for his company and all his assets. However, the deal broke when Enzo Ferrari was not willing to give up control over his company’s motorsports program. He even insulted Ford’s representatives saying he would never sell to an ugly company making ugly cars. To add more to it, Enzo sold a majority stake to the fellow Italian carmaker Fiat. It was also rumored that Enzo was never serious about selling the company to ford but had only negotiated in order to pressure Fiat to up the price.
Ford GT40 Mk I
After all the intense drama, Henry Ford II was left like a fool without a ride. He decided to build a sports car to humiliate Ferrari on the race track of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This was the beginning of the legendary GT40. Initially, the task of building the GT40 was assigned to  Ford’s Advanced Vehicle Design Group in the UK.  While the first batch of GT40 rolled out of Ford’s Advanced Vehicle Group were fast, they were also unstable and unreliable. The brakes were downright dangerous. According to popular mechanics, the brake rotors would heat-up to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit within seconds, which could be disastrous.
Carroll Shelby
The Effort
The Ford team couldn’t figure out how to make the car stay on the tarmac, and run continuously for 24hours, which were the two musts for Le Mans. After losing to Ferrari at Le Mans for two years, Ford finally turned to legendary Los Angeles car designer Carroll Shelby. Shelby was already a consultant on the GT40 project, but now he was in charge.
Ken Miles
Shelby and his trusted friend, an engineering specialist Ken Miles reinvented the GT40. They did so by collaborating with the Advanced Vehicle Group and Ford’s experimental engine group, rather than starting from the scratch. Shelby and Miles first improved the handling and stability of the vehicle by improving its aerodynamics. They taped wool streamers to the exterior of the car to know how air traveled over and around the vehicle. The better a car cuts through the air, less power it needs and less fuel consumption. The data collected allowed miles and Shelby to make body and suspension modifications to improve stability and maneuverability on the track.
Phil Remington
The brake problem was actually solved by Phil Remington, an engineer from the Ford team. He designed a quick-change brake system that allowed the mechanics to swap in new pads and rotors during a driver change, so the team doesn’t have to worry about making the brakes last long. The reliability issues were addressed by hooking the engine to a dynamometer and running for 24 to 48 hours. It was virtually recreating the conditions the engine would face on the track. 

The Payoff

Ford GT40 Mk II
All the modifications gave birth to the GT40 Mk II. Ford didn’t just defeat Ferrari at Le Mans in 1966, it humiliated the Italian carmakers. While none of the Ferrari’s cars completed the race, GT40 Mk II’s finished first, second and third places
Three GT40 Mk II finishing together
The 1966 race was Ken’s last, which ended in a controversy. Ken was about to become the only driver to win the world’s three biggest endurance races, the 24 hours of Daytona, 12 hours of Sebring and 24 hours of Le Mans in the same year. Ford executive Leo Beebe wanted to celebrate with a picture of the all the three GT40’s in the race crossing the finish line at the same time. So he had Shelby order Miles to slow down so that the other GT40’s could join. After the race Miles was informed that he did not win the race.

Some Reel Facts

Ford v Ferrari Movie poster
While all this happened in real, the movie has several scenes added to make the movie dramatic and entertaining. 
Henry ford II addressing the production line
Henry ford II went on a joy ride in a GT40 MkII with Corroll Shelby
Lee Laccoco involving in the negotiation with Enzo Ferrari
Ken Miles and Corroll Shelby had a brawl while gearing up for Le Mans.
Ford executives drank in pit after winning Le Mans in1966

Image Credits:
SamH, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
edvvc from London, UK, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Rainer W. Schlegelmilch, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
mycarquest.com
esquire.com
britannica.com

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