03 June 2022
On May 20th, 1964, after 22 days of intense discussions, Enzo Ferrari ended negotiations with Ford for the takeover of his company.
Enzo had immense animosity for Ford and Carroll Shelby; Enzo always held a grudge because the Americans bombed his factory in WWII. Additionally, when the highly talented race driver Carroll Shelby was having excellent racing success, he repeatedly turned down offers from Enzo to drive for Ferrari. Enzo did not like being turned down.
To put ‘salt in the wounds’, Shelby won LeMans in an Aston Martin and subsequently built the Cobra and went after Ferrari.
Even less well known, there was a clause in the proposed contract that killed the deal.
It required Ferrari to submit to Ford, ‘for quick approval,’ any racing team budget over L450 million (£204,000 at the time), the amount of Ferrari’s race budget for the 1963 season.
Enzo Ferrari exploded when he came across the provision during a negotiating session, underlining the words ‘submit’ and ‘to obtain’ twice with his famous violet ink pen.
Enzo ranted; the clause ‘seriously compromised the total freedom he was promised as racing team director.’ He then filled the room with a string of abusive insults and then promptly walked out, leaving the 14-member Ford delegation sitting speechless.
The talks had ended forever.
The result was deeply personal, but on a positive note, that hostility gave us one of the most significant automotive competitions of all time, and subsequently some of the greatest cars of all time, namely, the Ford GT40, Shelby Daytona, Ferrari P4, and Ferrari GTO.