The spark that detonated the famous war between Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari flashed in the spring of 1963. From the drag strips to NASCAR to Indianapolis, Ford’s “Total Performance” image campaign was in full bloom and looking to reach across the ocean to encompass the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Manufacturer’s World Championship. Speculation that Ford was angling to buy Ferrari to those ends proved to be true, but the negotiations went down in flames when Enzo Ferrari suddenly had last minute misgivings and walked out on the pretense of suffering under Ford’s “suffocating bureaucracy.”
Ferrari’s stagecraft left Ford enraged and still with nothing to challenge the competition in Europe, but he did have one very valuable asset: Carroll Shelby, who even then was preparing his own Cobras to contest Le Mans and who bore his own personal grudge against Ferrari. Shelby had also won the 24 Hours for Aston Martin in 1959 and, when Ford asked him to find someone capable of building a Le Mans winner, he considered both Lotus and Cooper before eventually choosing Englishman Eric Broadley, whose Lola GT coupe was very similar to existing Ford designs for a GT endurance racer and was already in testing.
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