Book Review: Ford GT

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Ford v Ferrari is a new film by James Mangold and will be in theaters on November 15. If you would like to get some background on the film before seeing it, here’s a great book you might want to read first.

fordtGTFord GT: How Ford Silenced the Critics, Humbled Ferrari and Conquered Le Mans

Great automotive ventures are often launched when someone’s proposals or comments are ignored. When Henry Packard asked Alexander Winton for improvements to his Winton automobile, he was ignored and told to “build his own car.” Which he did. And then there’s il Commendatore—Enzo Ferrari. His conflicts with Ferruccio Lamborghini not only led to the production of the Lamborghini automobile but his rejection of Henry Ford II’s offer to purchase Ferrari created the equally legendary Ford GT 40.

Ford GT tells the story of what happened next. Preston Lerner’s text is crisp and factual and while details are provided about events during specific races (and all of 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 are remarkable because of his access to many behind the scenes activities and includes some surprising images, such as photographs of the first Ford GT wearing Borrani wire wheels —it looks awesome—to images of the ill-fated but spectacular looking Ford GT roadster.

fordgt2The quality of the printing and even the paper used throughout the book is first class. As is the saga of how this automobile came into being and how it ultimately dominated LeMans racing. It’s an interesting story featuring corporate infighting, the arrival of Carroll Shelby as the racing program’s savior as well as the missteps, mistakes and just plain blunders that (in hindsight) seem so obvious. All resulting in more racing disasters than wins and then all of a sudden—bang, zoom—they’re at LeMans with the Ford 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. The initial influence of John Weyer cannot be underestimated as are the undeniable contributions of Ken Miles, who is portrayed in the new film by Christian Bale. Unlike McQueen’s LeMans that is a Porsche story, Ford GT is more like John Frankenheimer’s film Grand Prix, about a group of people who bucked the odds and through hard work and just plain guts became winners.

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 how it all ends, the book is a gripping page turner because you can’t wait to see what happens next.

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • 77 color/223 b&w photos
  • Publisher: Motorbooks
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760347875
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760347874
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 1.2 x 12.5 inches
  • Price: $34.94 (Amazon Prime)