What’s Fact and What’s Fiction in Ford v. Ferrari – Matthew Phelan @Slate

What’s Fact and What’s Fiction in Ford v. Ferrari – Matthew Phelan @Slate

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The racing movie plays fast and loose with the facts, but some of its most unbelievable details are straight from the record books.

Christian Bale and Matt Damon in Ford v Ferrari and Ken Miles with Carroll Shelby. Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Merrick Morton/20th Century Fox and Bernard Cahier/Getty Images.

To say that Ford v. Ferrari plays fast and loose with the facts is arguably to miss the point. Nevertheless, gearheads, automotive historians, and former business colleagues of Ford Senior Vice President Leo Beebe will find a lot to quibble about in this dramatization of the Ford Motor Company’s historic first win over its Italian rival at France’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966, which takes its inspiration from A.J. Baime’s nonfiction book Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans.

In one of the many rousing sales pitches that Matt Damon’s race car driver–turned–race car maker Carroll Shelby delivers in the film, he solemnly promises, “We’re going to make history.” And although there’s not much evidence that Shelby actually delivered this pep talk in the 1960s, he certainly said it later when Shelby American and Ford teamed up again in 2008. So, when is Ford v. Ferrari remaking history, when is it at least being true to the spirit of the story, and when is it simply printing the legend? To use another (but sadly not the last) racing metaphor, let’s take a look under the hood.

Ford

Tracy Letts and Henry Ford II Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Merrick Morton/20th Century Fox and Hugo van Gelderen / Anefo.

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Grandson of the founding Ford of Ford Motor, Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts), who really was nicknamed “Hank the Deuce,” is portrayed as both an imposing captain of industry and a neurotic beneficiary of his family’s largesse in Ford v. Ferrari. One factual aspect of the dynamic as portrayed in the film is that Ford II and his subordinate executives—including Ford’s then–vice president and general manager, Lee Iacocca—did see success on the European racing circuit as a shortcut to the kind of youthful mod glamour that might appeal to a new generation of American car buyers. And Ford’s plan to spare no expense on this project was indeed inspired by Italian car designer Enzo Ferrari’s showy and vulgar rejection of Ford’s acquisition offer and the restricted terms of its Ferrari-Ford racing team proposal. Ford II’s reaction to this slight, as reported in real life, “All right, we’ll beat his ass. We’re going to race him,” was somewhat more decorous than what erupts from the mouth of Ford v. Ferrari’s Ford II upon hearing this news: “We are gonna bury that greasy wop.”

Jon Bernthal and Lee Iacocca Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Merrick Morton/20th Century Fox and Bettmann / Contributor.

The movie also streamlines the Ford team to a size more suitable for a feature film. Ford’s first two defeats at Le Mans in 1964 and ’65 were overseen by another persnickety Brit, John “Pappy” Wyer, Shelby’s former boss on Aston Martin’s racing team, but Pappy did get into heated arguments with Ford exec Beebe over the firm’s micromanagement by committee—similar to the ones shown between Shelby and Beebe in the movie.

Josh Lucas and Leo Beebe Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Merrick Morton/20th Century Fox and Bernard Cahier/Getty Images.

Though the scenes of conflict within the team, pitting sleazy marketing guys against maverick racing savants, have some basis in reality, they are embellished. Shelby never locked Beebe in an office to get a private audience with Ford, according to Frank Comstock, a journalist and former student of Beebe’s. That said, Beebe did object to risks Miles took at the 12 Hours of Sebring race in Florida and later at Le Mans that he felt were unnecessary—although not to the extent that Carroll Shelby ever felt the need to bet his entire business on Miles’ success, “lock, stock, and brand,” or walk onto the shoulder of the track with a sign reading “7,000+ go like hell.”

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How to Identify the Ford Flathead V8 – For Newbies – Nate Cooper @TheFlatspot

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The Ford Flathead V-8 engine powered Ford and Mercury vehicles from 1932 to 1954. The Ford Flathead is a valve-in-block engine and the valves open adjacent to the combustion chamber, rather than from the top, as in later engines. The four different V-8 flathead displacement sizes between 1932 and 1953 are 136, 221, 239 and 337 cubic inches.

STEP 1 – THE OBVIOUS THINGS TO LOOK FOR

One of the easiest ways to start ID’ing your flathead is to look at the heads. Ignore the castings numbers. Focus on the type of head itself. Flathead heads have 3 main shapes. Your going to mainly focus on the Water outlets.
Also, Don’t assume you know what your flathead is internally because of the casting on the heads. That’s because Flathead heads where commonly replaced. If the motor was not commonly serviced at a Ford dealer, the heads you got where the ones sitting on the shelf. This is why it is almost never accurate to use the Heads casting marks to ID your flathead.

If your heads look like this, you’re rocking a 1932-1936 Ford Flathead. First gen flatty’s are more rare and how the whole things started. Congratulations. This was a great little power hose. The engine is harder to build than others years as the parts can be harder to find and more expensive. But we here in the Flat-Spot can help you find almost anything you need.

If your outlets look like this you have a 1937-1948 range flathead. These where a more common flathead and they are honestly the most eclectically desirable. There are two version of this head early heads had 21 studs where the later engines had 24. So that might also help you when it comes to narrowing your year down.

If you have very small Heads that look like these and your Flathead seems really small. Notice how they don’t have water outlets near the top neck. These heads are off a V860. The mini v8 form 1937-1941 which ford put out to try and capitalize on his company’s popularity for the cheap and economical V8. It was fords original goal to not offer an inline 6. But rather produce a Mini V8 to take on the larger sizes that pushed the inline 4 out of favor. This engine was not ideal for the larger Ford cars, but found a second life in small engine racing. The V860 was very popular with Midget race cars, speed boats, and some industrial applications like welders, compressors and water pumps due to their small size.

If your heads have the outlet in the front then lucky you. You have a 8BA flathead which ran from 1948-1953… 1954 if your Canadian. These engines where the last series in the continental US to be made and have some of the best Flathead’s had to offer when it comes to stock performance and engineering. As many of the issues had been resolved.

COUNTING YOUR STUDS

Take a Look at the Head Studs. Count the number of studs on the cylinder heads. According to Van Pelt Sales’ Ford Flathead Specifications web page, the count is as follows: all 136-cubic-inch engines have 17 studs, all 337-cubic-inch have 24 studs, 1932 to 1937 221-cubic-inch engines have 21 studs, 1938 to 1948 221- and 239-cubic-inch engines have 24 studs. The 1949 to 1953 239- and 255-cubic-inch engines have 24 bolts rather than 24 studs with nuts.


STEP 3 – SPARK CAN TELL YOU A LOT

This is the first gen Helmet style distributor. These are commonly also referred to as the Foot Ball Distributor. They ran from 1932-1941. This style came in with a 2 bolt and 3 bolt coil. I am told that the 2 bolt is the older version

This is the second gen 2 bolt distributor. These ran from 1941-1945 and are commonly called the Crab Style Distributor.

This distributor was common from 1946-1948. Because of war surplus the crab style cap is more commonly seen on the later engines. Due to popularity that style commonly replaced this version. The caps are interchangeable.

If your distributor is upright like a modern ignition system then your engine is a 8ba. This was the first year of adjustable timing, that could be done on the car while it was operating. Before they could only be adjusted on a bench with a specific tool.

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1930 FORD MODEL A HOT ROD (Miller OHV) @Bonhams

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1930 FORD MODEL A HOT ROD

Hot rod fans of all ages, but particularly those who grew up in the 1940s and 50s will relish this authentic Ford highboy rumble seat roadster, stripped of its fenders and carrying a rare Miller-design cylinder head. It is unrestored, but complete with such delicious period extras as Guide headlights, 1935 Ford 6.00:16″ wheels and special aftermarket three-door hood panels.

The basic 200 cubic inch displacement engine, built by Ford in April, 1930, is equipped with a high performance rocker arm head designed by famed racing car builder Harry A. Miller’s engineer, Leo W. Goossen. The head was produced by the Miller-Schofield Company then by the Cragar Company. This rare piece alone is worth the purchase.

Miller conceived the cylinder head in 1928 when the Ford Model A first came on the market and shortly before he sold his racing car and engine business to Schofield Inc. of America, but Schofield produced it only briefly. The design is a typical overhead valve conversion, similar to the Two-Port Riley and the Rutherford, using forged steel rocker arms to actuate the valves. The conversion more than doubled the original horsepower from 40 to about 90 HP at 3,200 RPM, particularly with the use of two Ford Chandler-Grove carburetors as in this installation, which is on a slightly later Model B block with pressure oiling. The original compression ratio was 5.75:1, but with the availability of better gasoline that could be upped to 7.5 or 8:1. The engine also has finned aluminum side plates and a mechanical fuel pump.

The head provides two oversize intake valves and four exhausts. The original owner, Robert Rein, installed with it better ignition and a lightened flywheel. With aluminum pistons and a re-ground camshaft, the car would be capable of more than 110 miles an hour on a smooth course. At an original sale price of $82.50, it was a bargain, even in the Depression-ravaged thirties.

Unlike some other Model A conversions, Goossen’s design produces a deep, powerful exhaust note, not unlike that of the famous four-cylinder Offenhauser racing engine.

Schofield failed in December, 1930, when a director, Gilbert Beesemyer, admitted to embezzling more than $8 million from the Guarantee Building & Loan Co. he headed in Los Angeles. Harlan Fengler, the Indianapolis driver (1923-24) and later racing official, bought most of the designs and equipment at Schofield’s bankruptcy sale and continued production of the Miller-Schofield equipment under the name Cragar. The original Miller-Schofield heads are extremely rare since they were only produced between January and December, 1930, when Schofield declared bankruptcy. The later Cragar version is vertical on the left side, whereas the Miller-Schofield head is slanted inwards.

There is a great personal story about this particular hot rod. In 1953, shortly after Edward, the present owner bought the car his wife, Gloria, had a hot 1949 Olds 88 convertible, and did not really like the old Ford. She challenged him to a race. The bet: if he lost he had to sell the hot rod. The two lined up on route 83 just outside Oak Brook, Illinois. He won, so he has had the car in his stable for more than half a century.

Such hot rods, based on the popular Ford roadster body and chassis, have become highly- sought-after items. Although there are many reproductions using fiberglass bodies, the original steel- bodied vehicles with legitimate 1930s and 1940s provenance have mostly been snapped up by collectors. To find such a sound, unrestored original is indeed a worthy prize.

Link to Bonhams

This Is What Everyone Forgot About The 1966 Le Mans – Arun Singh Pundir @HotCars

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The Matt Damon, Christian Bale 2019 hit, Ford v Ferrari (also titled Le Mans ’66 in some countries), made one thing very clear and memorable. The year 1966 marked an important change in racing history when a hitherto mass-passenger-carmaker managed to produce a racecar that beat the competition and emerged the winner.

The car was the GT40, the main people behind its success were Henry Ford II, Lee Iacocca, Leo Beebe, the indubitable Carroll Shelby, and of course, the lanky Brit racer, Ken Miles. Not only did the Ford GT40 win the Le Mans in 1966, but also did a 1-2-3 photo finish, the three cars that came in at number one, two and three, were all Ford GT40s.

24 Hours of Daytona, so this was the ultimate triumph for Ford, and the ultimate salt rub into Ferrari’s wounds.

So sure, the movie did dramatize some stuff, delete some other boring details and overall turn the Ford GT40 and its makers into heroes. A lot of it was true, some of it was fudged. So here’s what the world forgot about the 1966 Le Mans, and all that went down it…

The First Win For US Amidst Ferrari Drama

The 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans came to be the 34th Grand Prix of Endurance and was the seventh round of the 1966 World Sportscar Championship season. This was the first win for an American constructor overall, and the first win for the Ford GT40 as well.

The rules changed for this season with certain kinds of cars being deemed ineligible, so to let a certain amount of competition in, more cars were added into the rules.

The one thing that worked in Ford’s favor was that they copied Ferrari’s strategy of introducing copious amounts of cars in the same race, and this swayed the statistics on the whole. Ferrari on the other hand, had less time of preparation for 1966, because of a worker strike in Italy – although they too had the new Ferrari 330 P3, as well as NART P2 in the contending. That said; Ferrari did not even show up for the test weekend in April.

Another drama that unfolded in the Ferrari camp was the storming out of lead driver John Surtees, Ferrari’s 1964 F1 champion. While he was recovering from a bad 1965 crash, it was decided that he would break the Fords, and in case he needed backup, he would let Ludivico Scarfiotti takes the lead. But FIAT’s new chairman, Gianni Agnelli, who was Scarfiotti’s uncle, put Scarfiotti in the lead. Surtees tried to sway Enzo Ferrari but when he was overruled, he quit the Ferrari team.

Ford Was No Fairer To Ken Miles

Ford’s Leo Beebe was no fan of Ken Miles and Miles was not known for his political correctness. Miles had already won the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Daytona for Shelby American – and he was now aiming for the 24 Hours Of Le Mans as well, something no driver had ever been able to achieve.

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This Miller Hi-Speed Head inspires a complete 1929 Ford Model A roadster gow job. Here’s how I’d build it. – David Conwill @Hemmings

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Harry Miller was an artist. His preferred medium was race cars—complete race cars built from the wheels up. They cost upwards of $15,000 (almost a quarter-million dollars, adjusted for inflation) and spent most of the 1920s dominating America’s tracks. Unlike such contemporaries as the Chevrolet Brothers, Miller largely kept out of the speed-parts business. He briefly produced a cylinder head for the Ford Model T, but didn’t pursue that market further, supposedly saying “I’m not going to make any more of those heads for the Ford. Those Ford guys don’t have any money anyway!”

In 1929, though, Miller sold his business and retired mere weeks before the beginning of the Great Depression. Unable to stay away, he came back in 1930. Thanks to the terrible economy, however, he had to produce products far less exclusive than his famous racers of the previous decade. One of the things he marketed in conjunction with financial partner George Schofield was an overhead-valve conversion for the Ford Model A. The cylinder head had been sketched up by longtime Miller collaborator Leo Goossen in 1928, shortly after Ford began Model A production.

An overhead-valve (or valve-in-head, as they were often called at the time) design, the Miller head moved both intake and exhaust valves out of the engine block and into the head where the air flow would be freer and more direct to the combustion chambers. The port arrangement was identical to the original Ford, which allowed the stock intake and exhaust manifolds to be used if the buyer desired. The distributor hole was in the same spot as well.

Miller only produced this head very briefly, although Cragar (yes, that Cragar) took over the design and continued it for several more years. Original Miller-Schofield heads like this are a rare find and they still add a lot of pep to a Model A.

All of that is perhaps a long way of saying that a head this special deserves a build to suit. Unfortunately, that’s less common than you’d think. A lot of Model A and T “speedsters” are really just some seats strapped to a stock frame and it seems like when you see OHV conversions for these engines, they’re often on stock-looking closed-cab pickups. All of that is fine and dandy, but it’s not for me.

So lucrative had been the Model T speed-equipment market, makers like Robert Roof jumped into building Model A parts immediately. Image via the HAMB.

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Peep Mirror Adventures Part 2 Grinding it Out!

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It’s the weekend again and back to the mirror conundrum.

I worked out the grub screw thread using a thread gauge and ordered some shorter screws. The originals are 6mm x 6.5mm. So decided to try 6mm x 6mm and 6mm x 5mm. However upon trying both options the door still wouldn’t clear the mirror.

So back to the bracket and see how we go

As can be seen above the screws are proud and causing the issue

So the best option appeared to be to grind one of the original screws down to a correct level as it appears 6mm x 5mm are about the shortest available. To make things easier the screw was inserted into a nut and locked with another screw to allow an easier grinding operation.

Once the grinding was done and the threads cleaned up it was time to fit them to the bracket.

This now allowed the screws to be tightened with the right clearance to allow the door to shut.

Next step is to fit the arm and once again check the door for closure

As you can see there is a bit of paint damage from where a mirror was previously fitted, this will be touched in when the weather warms up a bit.

The fit was good, so the mirror head was attached and initially adjusted

Looks pretty good with the two mirrors and will help safety wise.

No such thing as an easy job!

1925 Ford ‘Rajo Special’ Single Seater Engine no. 1704776 – @Bonhams

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Really interesting early racer that sold at Bonham’s Quail auction in 2022 for US$50,400 inc. premium

1925 Ford ‘Rajo Special’ Single Seater
Engine no. 1704776

149ci OHV Inline 4-Cyilnder Engine
2 Winfield Model SR Carburetors
Est 50bhp at 3,000rpm
3-Speed Manual Transmission
Leaf Spring Suspension
Rear Mechanical Drum Brakes

*Offered from the Austin Automobile Collection
*Exciting and thrilling early American racecar
*Desirable overhead-valve conversion and double Winfield carburetors
*Striking and period-appropriate livery

EARLY AMERICAN RACERS

The line dividing early race cars from their road-going relatives was often a blurry one. Grand Prix racers were frequently little more than high-end production sports cars shorn of their headlights, while club-level machines were almost without exception based upon typical day-to-day cars. None was more typical than the Model T, and no single model was better catered-to by a burgeoning speed industry than the little Flivver.

Cut-down roadsters and runabouts were the order of the day, though the most serious of amateur and mid-level professional American racers would often go so far as to fabricate entirely new single-seat bodies to fit atop modified chassis. Underneath their customized bodies, early homebrewed race cars employed a variety of ingenious tuning techniques, among the most impressive of which were overhead valve conversions, often with crossflow heads, big, tuned manifolds, and doubled-up carburation.

THE MOTORCAR OFFERED

This 1925 Rajo-Ford Special, to use its full, proper name, employs all these tricks in the pursuit of speed. Sitting improbably low over period Houk quick-release wire wheels, the car’s narrow bodywork conforms closely to its most critical components; namely the driver and the Rajo OHV crossflow cylinder head-equipped engine at their command.

Quite exotic and rare pieces of historic speed equipment in any form, Rajo OHV conversions were known to nearly double factory Ford Model T horsepower figures (to just shy of 40). The example fitted here is particularly special for its crossflow configuration, in which intake and exhaust valves are situated perpendicular to the axis of the crankshaft, allowing for drastically improved engine breathing, and netting equally enhanced throttle response, higher revving, and greater power output.

Dual Winfield race carbs ride like jewelry atop an impressively vertical intake manifold and help lead the driver’s eye toward a period moto-meter radiator temp gauge. Inside the slender, cigar-shaped bodywork and mounted to a wooden dashboard are a rare era-correct Motorola mechanical tachometer and controls for an aviation magneto, while gear changing is now achieved through a lever sprouting up between the driver’s legs.

Lever-action shock absorbers have been added to assist standard Ford transverse leaf springs front and rear, and should bring tangible improvements to the car’s ride and road holding.
Viewed at any angle, the Rajo-Ford Special exudes lean athleticism and fitness for purpose, from narrow nose to bobbed boattail, possessing an elegance of line and engineering equal to the finest purebred sports machines of the time.

The Pony Express Ford’s Mid-engine Mustang – The Real Back Story – Michael Lamm @TheAutoChannel

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Author Michael Lamm recounts the development of Ford’s 196 Mustang the first mid-engine throust toward Total Performance.

People have tried for years to weave a connection between the Ford Mustang I-the knee-high 2-seater in which Dan Gurney lapped Watkins Glen in 1962-and the production Mustang that came out in May 1964.

Well, forget it. There ain’t no connection, or at best precious little. Other than the name, the horsey emblem, and the side scoops, the Mustang I didn’t contribute to the production car in any rational way. The little Mustang I did lead Ford into the GT40 program, though, and was emblematic of a performance and marketing bonanza that soon became known as Total Performance.

The Mustang I was created, it turns out, as an early component of Ford’s Total Performance buildup. According to retired Ford engineer Robert D. Negstad, who worked on the Mustang I and was later part of the team that developed the 7-liter Shelby Cobra, “The people who came out of (the Mustang I group) went on to win Le Mans…. They learned their craft and their skills in that Mustang I project. It was a labor of love….”

Horse of a Different Color

To begin at the beginning, around 1960 a Ford product planner named Don Frey became disturbed that the company was losing its performance image, especially among younger buyers. Hotrodders had given up the flathead Ford V8 in favor of smallblock Chevys and Chrysler Hemis. Sports-car enthusiasts were buying imports and Corvettes. Ford was becoming an old-maid car company.

So Frey expressed his concern to Robert S. McNamara, Ford’s car and truck VP, and to Henry Ford II, the company president. Frey also rallied a number of other Ford executives, key among them vice presidents Gene Bordinat (design) and Herb Misch (engineering). Frey’s message, in effect, was “Hey, fellas, we’ve got a marketing problem. Let’s do something to polish up Ford’s styling and performance

Designer Bordinat immediately got busy. Ford’s studios were turning out an armada of showcars-as many as one a week, most of them fiberglass rollers minus powertrains. Often these projects came in response to design competitions routinely held among Ford’s various studios. But for a competition in January 1962, Bordinat asked his styling chiefs to submit concepts for something new: a small, no-holds-barred sports car.

One of the designers was John Najjar, now retired after a career with Ford going back to the late ’30s. “We had a studio under Bob Maguire,” Najjar explains, “and in it were Jim Darden, Ray Smith, plus an artist, Phil Clark, several modelers, and me. We drew up a 2-seater sports car in competition with the other studios, and when they saw ours-saw the blackboard with a full-sized layout and sketches- they said, ‘That’s it! Let’s build it.’ So we made a clay model, designed the details, and then built a fiberglass prototype.” This car was simply a concept study rather than the final configuration, but it included a lot of the sporty, rakish flair the later showcar embodied.

With the performance kettle starting to simmer in Dearborn, VP of Design Bordinat decided to take this 2-seat concept further and build it into a showable prototype. To that end he invited his opposite number in engineering, Herb Misch, to come over and take a look.

Misch got excited as well, and he selected a special-projects wizard named Roy Lunn to head up the creation of a complete prototype. Lunn would act as liaison between the styling and engineering sides and oversee the building of the car.

By now it was early May of ’62, and the car had even earned a name: Mustang, suggested by John Najjar. Ford insiders actually referred to it as the Mustang Sports Car, and it wasn’t until the 4-place 1963 Mustang II concept car came out that people began calling the 2-seater Mustang I retroactively.

The Mustang I advanced quickly from concept sketches to package drawings conforming with the engineering specifications that were being laid down simultaneously. Najjar recalls that his studio’s full-sized drawings contained the suggestion of a tubular spaceframe, and Ray Smith, the studio engineer, added the popup headlights, retractable license plate, fixed seats, and adjustable-reach steering and pedals.

Fueled primarily on enthusiasm-the budget for the project being virtually nonexistent-in short order Ford had a fiberglass prototype of their 2-seat sports car. Initially no one knew whether the prototype would be developed into a runner or not, but by mid-summer Misch and Bordinat decided that in either case they wanted to display the car at the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen on 7 October 1962.

At that point the project still had no budget and only the fuzziest of goals: to show up at Watkins Glen on race day. But on that goal alone Roy Lunn quickly assembled a team and dedicated them to building a finished showcar in the remarkable time of just 100 working days.

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