Tag Archives: ford gt40

Betting On A Red Horse

Ferrari 458 Speciale

Courtesy Ferrari N.A.

I’m not one to bet on horses. I never play the lotto (even with the record 10 figure jackpot currently in the headlines), and I have never even made it to a blackjack table in Vegas despite a few attempts. I didn’t even pay much attention to Williams Grand Prix, another stalwart of the Formula One (F1) circuit, when the company went public. But this time, it’s a little different. Ferrari is now a public company following a spin off from Fiat Chrysler (FCAU), and I have some shares of stock in the Prancing Horse.

The Legend

You might say I’m long on the legend of the Prancing Horse, which began with Enzo Ferrari (1898-1988) as a racing driver for Alfa Romeo in the early days of the automobile. Upon the birth of his son Alfredino (“Dino”), he retired from driving to concentrate on running Alfa’s F1 team, and then eventually setting up shop on his own.

In that bygone era of racing cars painted in national racing colors rather than adorned with sponsorship livery, road going Ferraris were sold to fund operations of the racing team. Ferrari has always been a company that sold cars to go racing, which is quite the opposite of most every manufacturer that has been involved with the sport before or since. It is also the one with the most wins and championships in F1, and the only one that has been part of the sport all through the post-WWII era, starting with the 1950 season.

Unsurprisingly in such a competitive business, the company’s fortunes ebbed and flowed over the years. Dino Ferrari, whom Enzo had likely been grooming to eventually takeover, tragically died of muscular dystrophy in 1956 at the age of 24. Then in the 1960s Ferrari almost sold the business to Ford but backed out. “The Deuce” (aka Henry Ford II) was incensed and commissioned the creation of the Ford GT40, which eventually ended Ferrari’s dominance of the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, by winning four times straight beginning in 1966.

Fiat, under the leadership of Gianni Agnelli, bought a stake in the company in 1969 and later became the controlling shareholder. The company went on to some of its greatest successes after Enzo’s death in 1988, launching a slew of critically acclaimed and commercially successful models beginning in the 1990s and returning to its winning ways on the F1 circuit with a combined 14 driver and constructor titles between 1999 and 2008.

Green Pastures

Ferrari is a solid, if expensive investment. It is a trophy property after all. In the short term the share price is subject to fall due to the initial hype surrounding its IPO and the high Price/Earnings (P/E) ratio. However, over the long term I can’t think of many more solid investments in the “automotive” sector. Here’s why.
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Ford GT – Forty Year Follow Up

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Enzo Ferrari was partly responsible for a lot more sports cars than he’s given credit for. The Old Man apparently had a way of, shall we say, inspiring others to go off in a huff to build their own cars in order to spite him. He reportedly insulted a customer who complained of clutch problems. That customer turned out to be Ferruccio Lamborghini who then started the firm that bears his name.

The Ford GT40 is another car that came to be in part because of Ferrari. Its development was commissioned by Henry Ford II after he was rebuffed in his attempt to purchase the fabled Italian company. The GT40’s mission was to race and beat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It didso four consecutive times from 1966 to 1969 – including a 1-2-3 sweep in 1966.

The GT40 ended Ferrari’s streak of six straight Le Mans victories from 1960 to 1965. (Ferrari hasn’t won Le Mans since, concentrating on Formula One instead.) After that things quieted down as Ford became preoccupied with other things as the malaise of the 1970s set in.

It wasn’t until 2005 that the spiritual successor to the GT40, the Ford GT, was introduced to once again battle Ferrari. But this time the battle was not on the track so much as in the sports car marketplace.

While it certainly bears a strong resemblance to its predecessor the GT is a much larger car, its 106.7 inch wheelbase about a foot longer, and its 44.3 inch height about four more than that of the GT40.

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