In the early 1960s, Ford was riding the crest of the wave in the road-going department with a product for almost every occasion. But the firm lacked a little in the excitement department. To combat this, those in charge set their eyes on finding some products that were a little bit more passion-driven and decided on the obvious route – Ferrari.

The Ferrari stable had some of the fastest and most aesthetically pleasing models, plus a fierce racing programme. So in 1963, instead of starting from scratch, Ford pulled out the big guns and attempted to buy the Italian concern. It didn’t go down well, with Enzo Ferrari quickly saying no. 

A humiliated Henry Ford II then did what many thought was impossible and set about building a supercar to beat Ferrari at a race it had dominated for years, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ford roped in Carroll Shelby, who had won the 1959 race but was forced to hang up his helmet shortly thereafter with a heart condition. Endlessly resourceful, Shelby reinvented himself as a car designer and salesman working out of a warehouse space in Venice Beach with a team of engineers and mechanics that included hot-tempered test driver Ken Miles. A champion British race car driver and a devoted family man, Miles was brilliant behind the wheel… but was also blunt, arrogant and unwilling to compromise.


Shelby, Miles and their ragtag crew battled corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to develop a revolutionary vehicle that they hoped would outshine every competitor. Ford spent untold millions on the effort – and failed in 1964 and ’65. Thankfully, the project was given another go in 1966; this was the real start of the Ford versus Ferrari battle, where legends were made and history books were written. And now there’s a movie.

Of course the title is Ford v Ferrari and hits South African cinemas on 22 November. Christian Bale is at the wheel as legendary driver Ken Miles and Matt Damon plays the automotive artist who was hired to defeat Ferrari, Carroll Shelby.

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