Ford vs. Ferrari: The full story

Everyone knows about the story of Ford vs. Ferrari, but what everyone says about the story isn’t true. There’s a lot more to the story than what you’ve heard. I know the full story, and I’m gonna tell you what happened.

First off is a story that doesn’t relate to the Ford v Ferrari story, but is very interesting. During WW2, Ford was building airplanes for the US Army. In Italy, Ferrari was designing planes for the Italian army. These two countries were on opposite sides during the war. That explains what happened one day in WW2, when bombers created by Ford had bombed one of Italy’s factories. This factory was (as you would have already guessed) the Ferrari factory. Ferrari responded to this by bombing one of America’s factories, which was actually the Ford factory. It may not have anything to do with Ford v Ferrari, but it’s an interesting story to know that the two manufacturers would actually destroy each other.

Now, to the real story. Back in the day, there was a group called “The Automobile Manufacturers of America (AMA).” In 1957, the AMA declared that all manufacturers in the group could not participate in any forms of motorsport. Henry Ford II, who was the chairman of the group, took this very seriously and pulled out all of Ford’s efforts in racing. Secretly, however, Chevrolet thought that the entire rule would be forgotten, and had decided to make a car designed for racing, a car that we know today as the Corvette. Ford was furious at this decision, and had upheld the rule to race.

Henry Ford is at a motor race at Sebring to gain information on racing cars. During that race, he saw the Ferraris come through the field to win, and told himself, “We need those red cars.”

Ford had planned to buy out Ferrari, and Enzo Ferrari had agreed to this deal. Enzo was happy with the deal, knowing he won’t be alone in sharing power of the company. However, the contract stated that Ford would take complete control of the racing department, which Enzo was against. He wanted to keep control of his racing cars. Therefore, he turned down the deal, leaving but an angry Henry Ford II.

Ford told his designers to build a car that would crush Ferrari on the world’s biggest stage, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. What came out was the original 1964 Ford GT40. It was decently fast, but incredibly unstable and unreliable. In the 1964 Le Mans, all of the cars failed to finish the race, letting Ferrari taking a dominating 1-2-3 finish.

Ford brought in Caroll Shelby, who had won the Le Mans GT class, and his driver Ken Miles. Ken Miles had tested the GT40 and said that it was awful. Ford then went about building a new engine to fix the reliability. Ford showed up at the 1965 Le Mans very confident, having won at Daytona and Sebring earlier that year. However, before Le Mans, Ford decided to change out the engines to new engines which were, yet again, less reliable. All the cars broke down, and gave Ferrari another victory.

The 1966 Le Mans race came, and Ford had a new GT40. They had won Daytona and had also won Sebring, but with a huge loss, when at the chequered flag, Dan Gurney had to push his car over the line to finish second. By the time the first half of the 24 hours was over, 4 of the 8 GT40s had broken down. By the time the race had ended, all of the Ferraris had broken down. Ford took a dominating 1-2-3 finish, scoring America’s first ever victory at Le Mans.

Ford - Ford vs. Ferrari: The full story - Car History