Great automotive venture are often launched when someone’s proposals or comments are ignored. When Henry Packard complained to Alexander Winton offering suggestions for improvement to his Winton automobile, he was ignored and told to “build his own car.” Which he did. And then there’s il Commendatore himself—Enzo Ferrari. His conflicts with Ferruccio Lamborghini not only produced the iconic Lamborghini automobile but his rejection of Henry Ford II’s offer to purchase Ferrari created the equally legendary Ford GT 4o.
Preston’ Lerner’s text is crisp and factual and while details are provided about events during specific races (and all the the GT’s races are documented) the author never forgets he is first and foremost telling a great story. The historical images including photography by Dave Friedman is remarkable because of his access and some surprising images, such as photographs of the first GT wearing Borrani wire wheels —it looks awesome—to images of the ill-fated but spectacular looking GT roadster. The quality of the printing and even the paper used throughout is first class.
As is the saga of how this automobile came into being and how it ultimately dominated LeMans is an interesting one, with corporate infighting, the arrival of Carroll Shelby as a savior of the racing program, the misstep, mistakes and just plain blunders that (in hindsight) seem so obvious resulting in more racing disasters than wins and then all of a sudden—bang, zoom—we’re at LeMans with the Fort GT’s finishing 1-2-3.
This is not a Cinderella story but instead is a story of hard work by many people including Ol Shel himself as well as Phil Remington, and of course, the initial influence of John Weyer, cannot be underestimated as are contributions by Ken Miles, who along with two other drivers, were killed during the testing and development of the Ford Gt.
If this would be a movie, it would not be McQueen’s LeMans, that’s Porsche story, it would be John Frankenheimer’s Grand Prix, about an American who bucked the odds and through hard work and just plain guts became a winner.
Ford GT: How Ford Silenced the Critics, Humbled Ferrari and Conquered Le Mans has the look and feel of a coffee table book but it’s much, much more. It reads like a novel and even though anyone remotely familiar with the history of motorsports know hoe it all ends, the book is a gripping page turner because you can’t wait to see what happens next.