Ford v Ferrari - The Real-Life Rivalry and A Historic Victory for America

by Mohammed Burman | 06/06/2019
Share this post:
The hotly anticipated film Ford v. Ferrari is set to release on November 15, 2019. Read here about the true events that inspired the movie.

Ford v Ferrari - The Film

The film "Ford v. Ferrari" was earlier due to be released during summer 2019, but Fox decided to push it back towards the end of the year, to help it gain a better position in the awards run. This is James Mangold’s first movie after the incredibly successful "Logan". The trailer has given us a preview of the movie, which is based on real events and tells a story in which Ford successfully manufactured an all-new car which defeated a continual race dominator from Ferrari. While the movie will obviously be dramatised, it does seem to be quite faithful to real-life events.

The first trailer of Ford v Ferrari is extremely action packed

According to the trailer, Ford, in a desire to beat Ferrari at the 24-hours of Le Mans, approached Carroll Shelby (played by Matt Damon). However, to defeat Ferrari, raw speed is not enough, but “a pure racer behind the wheel” is also required to overthrow the Prancing Horse.

Also Read - Top 5 Celebrities Banned From Owning A Luxury Ferrari

Shelby then approaches racer Ken Miles (played by Christian Bale) to undertake the critical task. When asked how long it takes to complete the car, Shelby answers: “90 days”, an extremely short time to develop a supercar. Then he, along with some engineers, starts to develop and puts the Ford GT40 on a test before it participated in the 1966 Le Mans where, for the first time, Ford was successful in beating Ferrari. At the end of the trailer, Henry Ford II bursts into tears because of the shock at the super speed of the vehicle after being taken for a quick drive in the GT40.

Ford v Ferrari - The Real-Life Story

In the 1900s, while Ferrari was the dominator in sports car racing but in need of some money, Ford was one of the biggest names in cars but in need of a racing victory. Ford desired for a victory at Le Mans, a French 24-hour race which started in 1923. This race shows the strength of both the vehicle and the racer behind the wheel.

Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari
Henry Ford II (Left) and Enzo Ferrari (Right)

In 1963, Ford made a bold decision to buy Ferrari. At first, it looked like that this transaction was beneficial for both companies, but then Enzo Ferrari realized that the deal would compromise both, his freedom and also that of Ferrari’s racing team. Enzo then proceeded to walk out of the room, leaving Ford executives speechless. The deal was unsuccessful. Enzo later sold half the company to Fiat in 1968.

Ford vs Ferrari - The Real Life Rivalry
The rivalry began after a failed deal between Ford and Ferrari

Henry Ford II had perhaps taken this as a personal insult. He put a lot of cash into racing development, with the specific goal to develop an all-new car to defeat Ferrari’s Prancing Horse. He purchased a couple of Mk6s from British outfit Lola and inaugurated factories in the US. In almost a year, a team was established, sketches were drawn and calculations were made. Finally, the first American challenger to Ferrari’s racing dominance, the GT40, was born.

Also ReadFerrari to Launch 15 New Models Before 2022

Scoring a victory, however, was not easy. After several failures with different car developers and car racers, Ford invested millions of dollars in the development of the Ford GT40, put in thousands of test miles, and went through numerous strict simulations. Finally, the GT40 gave the American automaker its first-ever victory against at 1966 Le Mans, followed by the three more victories in the next three years.

Ford v Ferrari - The Car Behind The Victory

The triumphant car was called GT40, with GT standing for Grand Touring and 40 representing its height in inches (40 inches or 1.02 metres). Based on the British Lola MK6, the Ford GT40 was a high-performance endurance racecar. It had four models: the Mk I, Mk II, and Mk III and Mk IV. While the first three models were developed in France, the last one was built in the USA.

1966 ford gt40 mk ii black front angle
The Ford GT40 Mk II provided Ford with the first victory against Ferrari in 1966 Le Mans.

The GT40 won the Le Mans four consecutive times, from 1966 to 1969 (the Mk II in 1966, Mk IV in 1967 and the Mk I in 1968 and 1969. In the first triumph in 1966, Henry Ford II attended the race in person and he was not disappointed at the performance of the performance car. This was the first time that an American car won the Le Mans and also the first victory for an American automaker in a European race since the triumph of Duesenberg at the 1921 French Grand Prix. Another note-worthy fact is that the GT40 Mk IV is the only car to be completely developed in the USA to attain the overall triumph at Le Mans.

The four models of the GT40 had a range of American-developed engines specifically modified for racing. To be more specific, the Ford GT40s used large-displacement Ford V8 engines (4.2-litre, 4.7-litre and 4.9-litre), in comparison to the Ferrari’s smaller V12, 3.0-litre or 4.0-litre in displacement. This is one of the contributing factors to the historic victory of Ford against Ferrari.

Also Read Bad Blood Between Ferrari And Lamborghini

The historic dispute, the amazing vehicle, and the gruelling development process, they will be all be depicted in the movie. The movie is slated for release on November 15, 2019. Maybe we could even check how true the movie stays to the real life story.

Be updated with more interesting car stories in India by visiting our website -

Tracking icon
Would you like to receive notifications with latest news and car deals from IndianAuto?