Ford Vs. Ferrari – Movie Review
I bought my first car on 21st May 2005. I requested my close friend to drive her from the showroom on Residency Road, Bangalore to our neighborhood temple for a customary ritual before commencing my regular drives as I was jittery to drive 6 kms all alone plus I only had a 4W Learner’s License then while I rode his scooter alongside. Over the past 15 years, I have driven close to 2,85,000 kms across five cars – Santro (75,000 kms), Getz (35,000 kms), Verna (65,000 kms), XUV500 MT (85,000 kms) and currently XUV500 AT (25,000 kms) all these years. About 80% of all my drives would have been solo – either to workplace or outstation drives on National & State Highways. I have been a motorhead since childhood with a huge collection of Hotwheel Cars among other figurines which I mostly lost at school projects and gave away a few to friends and family.
My most favourite quote on driving has always been – “the journey should be as important and exciting as the destination” – applies to car drives as well as our own lives, isn’t it.
When I heard such a movie had released which was all about Car Racing, Corporate rivalry, feud and backstabbing among colleagues, I was obviously intrigued to watch "Ford Vs. Ferrari". Finally found time this weekend to catch up on the Hotstar App. Honestly, I have never been a fan of Ferrari though they make some of the best race cars – as well as “great looking cars” in the world. During the 90’s I started following Formula One Car Racing and for a straight 4 years, I watched almost every one of them all through the year – From the Australian Grand Prix in January to the Brazilian one in end-November at odd hours in the day and night. I was a fanboy of Mika Hakkinen rather than Michael Schumacher though the latter had more records and podium finishes to his credit.
What I learnt watching F1 was – it was one thing to reach the Podium like race horses; what’s more important was team work, an orchestra-like coordination during the pitstops on Raceday, the connect between the driver and the machine and most importantly, the timing. While most drivers would take 3 pitstops, Mika and Shumi would take only 2. I used to wonder, how. And that’s what differentiates them vs. the others.
Ford vs. Ferrari is reminiscent of the corporate feud between Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari – and how Ford Motor company reinvented itself in the 1960s from being an American family car to a more contemporary and young brand which appealed to Baby boomers, thanks to the Mustang which was a rage in the US in the 70s and 80s. The film opens up with Mr. Ford asking his immediate team in front of factory workers to shut down the company for want of a better market and mind share vs. Chevrolet. The famed Lee Iacocca informs the Chairman that the company needs to build a race car and win hearts of the young and strong – that their offering is a “cool one” similar to that of Ferrari which was on the verge of collapse then. When Lee meets Mr. Ferrari to strike a buyout deal, fellow Italian company FIAT agrees to offer a better price & acquires Ferrari.
Lee puts in charge Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) to build a race car along with his friend and driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) though Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas) doesn’t like Ken much and keeps condescending him for trivial reasons. Until Shelby takes Mr. Ford for a spin, quite literally in the company’s test track and wants him to have the last word in the run up to winning the annual 24-hour Le Mans Race, France which is usually dominated by Ferrari. Shelby tweaks the rules too – changing the entire brake system which in fact doesn’t have a clear mention in the rule book. At the end, what matters is winning, so we believe. Until we see Ken oblige to Leo’s request that all the three Ford cars come together for a Podium Finish and a once in a lifetime photo-op. What Shelby and Ken don’t know is that they are being double crossed Leo such that Ken doesn’t win first.
Even as the crowd chases the podium finish winners, Shelby and Ken walk away with hands on shoulders to plan and prepare for the subsequent years' races. A few months later, a more advanced version of the Mustang is launched and when Ken takes it for a test drive, he goes up in flame along with the car. History has it that Shelby's team won the Le Mans for four consecutive years since 1966 and Ford remains the only American brand to have achieved this feat.
The film also has a message - It's not always about winning and coming on top. What also matters is team work and focussing on a larger goal. Minus the dirty corporate s**t.