What if Ferrari Agreed to be Acquired by Ford?

Did Enzo use the potential sale to the Ford Motor Company as leverage for a better deal with Fiat, the company to which he eventually sold? Some have speculated as much.

And, what if Enzo had said “yes,” and the Ford Motor Company had ended up owning Ferrari? After all, they negotiated such a deal. How would sports car racing history have been rewritten? Many have speculated about this as well.

While you could imagine numerous scenarios, here are a few views on what might have happened if Ford had acquired Ferrari.

Scenario 1 – The British Never Show Up

In 1963, Enzo wanted to secure funding for his racing operations, and a deal with Ford Motor Company seemed like one way to do that. Enzo viewed his road car business almost as an afterthought; racing was his real passion.

Formula 1 Grand Prix racing included factory-backed teams that built complete cars and used racing to promote their road car businesses. While race cars like Ferrari’s line were gorgeous, the engine humming under the racecar hood was what made the real difference.

The Cosworth DFV engine changed all that. The money Ford would have spent buying Ferrari ended up funding the Cosworth DFV development, allowing private British car manufacturers to compete against Ferrari.

Scenario 2 – Prancing Horse Emblems on the Mustang

Ford has had a good run of introducing automotive successes. Think Model T, Model A, and Mustang, just to name a few. However, when it came to managing their brands, that’s another story.

For example, consider the Jaguar. There are many examples of the Ford Motor Company’s lack of understanding of the Jaguar’s potential.

Considering the marketing weakness they had, it’s difficult to imagine how Ford’s management team could have helped Ferrari. And the Ford marketing team in Dearborn, Michigan headquarters would have had a hard time understanding and accepting the language and work practices of an Italian company. Eventually, the Ford accountants would have tried to change the new business to squeeze out more profits.

Imagine Taurus switchgear (instead of Fiat) in the Ferrari Testarossa.

And the Ford marketing department might have even suggested a Ferrari-edition Mustang.

Scenario 3 – Ferrari Today Would Look Like Porsche

Ferrari builds about 8,000 cars a year now; Porsche makes over 200,000. In 1963, Ferrari produced 598 vehicles annually, and it’s highly likely that Ford would have moved quickly to standardize manufacturing systems and processes to increase volume. To the company that developed mass production, Ferrari’s output would have seemed small. It would have been difficult for the Ford development engineers to give Ferrari the support needed. That eventually would have meant cheaper, smaller Ferraris, and, possibly a Ferrari SUV.

Don’t laugh. Back in 1963, no one at Porsche dreamed they’d ever build an SUV.

What do you think would have happened if Enzo had sold to Ford? Please leave a comment below.

In the next post, Enzo’s marketing mavens advise him to stay out of North America. They tell him, “Americans will never understand the value of a Ferrari, and most of them will never buy one.”

Photo:  Mr.choppers - Own Work / Wikipedia

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