Ford and Ferrari almost merged as one road car company in the 1960s

Ford understood the 1960s was a turning point as their family-friendly vehicles were being shunned by the younger generation. Their assumption was that victory in high-profile sporting events would lead to better sales for their vehicles and increase brand awareness among a young audience who were hungry for speed and success. 

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Ferrari was the success story for high-performance vehicles in the early 1960s but had begun suffering financial turmoil after investing heavily in a successful GT programme and Formula 1 campaign. 

By the start of 1963, Ferrari had won the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race in three out of their last four starts. 

The French endurance race was considered one of the staples of the motoring industry and a way to highlight the speed and efficiency of a new machine. 

The race had been won by iconic brands such as Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz and Ford had realised the marketing success of having their badge plastered on the winning car. 

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Talks between the two had begun for a ninety percent buyout which would leave two separate divisions. 

The race team would be known as Ferrari – Ford with the racing decisions taken by Scuderia boss Enzo Ferrari. 

Ford would control the road car project which was to be known as Ford – Ferrari in a mutual deal aimed at benefiting companies on both sides of the Atlantic. 

A $15million agreement was made but Ferrari pulled out at the last moment after Ford asserted Ferrari would take their orders from Detroit. 

Ford representatives confirmed Ferrari would be banned from entering races and taking control without Ford’s agreement and this angered the Italian founder to the core. 

Speaking to Express.co.uk, motoring historian and author of a book on the Ford GT40, Mark Cole, describes the merger as an unlikely marriage. 

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He said: “Ford was providing 1,200 cars a day at just one of its plants, Ferrari was building 600 cars a year so you can imagine the difference, they’re like chalk and cheese. 

“Ford had mass production lines, Ferrari were building jewels.” 

Undeterred, Ford continued with their plans for a racing squad and invested $22million into funding their own project. 

American car designer and former Le Mans 24 Hours winner Carroll Shelby was brought in to build the teams machines and after failing to win on their debut, Ford finally succeeded in 1966.

After bringing eight GT40’s to the French classic compared to Ferrari’s two, sheer numbers were enough to out power the Italian manufacturer. 

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The top three Ford machines crossed the line together as Bruce McLaren took the win under controversial circumstances. 

Undeterred, Ford continued with their plans for a racing squad and invested $22million into funding their own project. 

American car designer and former Le Mans 24 Hours winner Carroll Shelby was brought in to build the teams machines and after failing to win on their debut, Ford finally succeeded in 1966.

After bringing eight GT40’s to the French classic compared to Ferrari’s two, sheer numbers were enough to out power the Italian manufacturer. 

“Interestingly, in 1966 they ran eight cars and these eight cars were all painted in Ford cover range colours. 

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