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12/12/19

FORD V FERRARI (Movie Review)


Once upon a time, Henry Ford II decided to buy up a little Italian car company called Ferrari. You know, to add a bit of racing cred to his family-car image. I mean, Ferrari’s meticulously hand-crafted sports cars offered a lot of panache, but selling them at their required price point, even in the early 1960s, wasn’t easy. Ferrari was losing money hand over fist. Ford at that time, however, had plenty of cash. So it seemed to be a match made in motoring heaven.

Until it wasn’t.

Seemingly on the verge of a deal, Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari veers into a different lane (thanks to a 12th-hour lifeline from Fiat). That gives the proud Italian the freedom to speak his mind … bluntly. Ford makes “ugly little cars,” Enzo sneers, “in big ugly factories.”

Henry Ford is furious. And a man like Henry Ford II is not one to be trifled with. So he decides to beat Ferrari at its own game, on its own turf: the fabled 24 Hours of LeMans, where Ferrari’s race cars reign supreme.

Henry Ford II will bring in the brightest. He’ll bring in the best. And he’ll build his own Ford racer. In fact, he’ll build the best racing car in the world, and it will bury Ferrari at Le Mans, he fumes.

To make that all happen, Ford taps one Carroll Shelby.

Shelby had been known as one of America’s most incredible racers back in the late ’50s. But after he figuratively hit the wall with some unexpected heart problems, things had to change. Now, in the early 1960s, he’s parlaying his past fame and his car-designing know-how into selling sports cars baring his name.

Or perhaps, it would be more accurate to say Shelby was selling a sports car: the Shelby Cobra 427. Things are tight, and he only has a single car to sell right at the moment … which he does. Repeatedly. But when Ford, one of the biggest car manufacturers in the world, comes a-callin’, Shelby quickly signs up for the endeavor.

Shelby tells Ford that the only guy good enough to drive the car he’s going to make is Ken Miles, an irascible Brit with motor oil in his veins. “And how long did you tell them you needed? Two, three hundred years?” Miles asks when told of the car-building proposal. “Ninety days,” Shelby retorts amid his friend’s gails of laughter.

So now, the hard work begins. With a blank check, a racing car frame from England, and all the racing tech that money can buy, the men set to the task. They can imagine this wonder car, smell it, taste it, feel it in their bones.

And there’s really only one thing standing in their way: a little thing called … physics.

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