Return to Glory: The Story of Ford's Revival and Victory at the Toughest Race in the World

Return to Glory: The Story of Ford's Revival and Victory at the Toughest Race in the World

by Matthew DeBord


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In January 2015, Ford unveiled a new car at the Detroit auto show and the automotive world lost its collective mind. This wasn’t some new Explorer or Focus. Onto the stage rolled a supercar, a carbon-fiber GT powered by a mid-mounted six-cylinder Ecoboost engine that churned out over 600 horsepower. It was sexy and jaw dropping, but more than that, it was historic, a callback to the legendary Ford GT40 Mark IIs that stuck it to Ferrari and finished 1-2-3 at Le Mans in 1966. Detroit was back, and Ford was going back to Le Mans.

Journalist Matthew DeBord has been covering the auto industry for years, and in Return to Glory he tells the story of Ford’s revival as a company as exemplified by the new GT. A decade ago, CEO Alan Mulally took over the iconic company and, thanks to a big financial gamble and his “One Ford” plan, helped it weather the financial crisis and a stock price that plunged to $1 a share, without a government bailout. In the process, the company began to dream of repeating racing history.

DeBord recounts the history of the GT in the 1960s, details the creation of the new GT, and follows the team through the racing season, from an inauspicious debut at Daytona where the cars kept breaking down, to glimmers of hope at Sebring and the team’s first victory at Laguna Seca in Monterey.

Finally, DeBord joins the Ford team in Le Mans in June 2016. This fabled 24-hour endurance race is designed to break cars and drivers, and it was at Le Mans, fifty years after the company’s greatest triumph, that Ford’s comeback was put to the ultimate and newly triumphant test.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802127952
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 06/19/2018
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 574,347
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Matthew DeBord is a Business Insider senior correspondent, covering transportation. He has written for the New York Times, Slate, Washington Post, Huffington Post, CBS Interactive, and has appeared regularly on radio and television to discuss the auto industry. He is the author of The New York Book of Wine and Wine Country, USA. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey.

Read an Excerpt

Only 500 GTs for the road and four for the track would be built, with two racing in North America and two in Europe. The car would be exceptionally rare, and that low production number, along with the steep price tag, signaled that although Ford was creating the race cars and road cars at the same time, the GT was first and foremost a competitive machine, committed to race in both the United States and Europe until 2019. Every other vehicle that it would race against in 2016 would be built (in some cases had been built) in far greater numbers for the road and would not be so strictly limited in terms of total production.

Interestingly, although the new GT was created under these unusual conditions, it wasn’t a fraught or difficult process. Under the circumstances, this was remarkable.

Moray Callum, who heads up design at Ford, said “It was less of a challenge than designing, say, the next-generation Fiesta”—a small Ford vehicle I had checked out in Irvine several years before. An inexpensive mass-market car like that has to be designed and built to a price point, engineered for the production of hundreds of thousands of units in many different countries. When designing such a vehicle, you’re always deciding what not to do.

The GT was different. “We tried to stretch the limits as much as possible,” Callum said.

Table of Contents

Prologue ix

Part I This Could All Go Away

Chapter 1 Betting the Farm 3

Chapter 2 One Ford 24

Chapter 3 Behold the New GT 48

Chapter 4 Disaster at Daytona 75

Part II All Rights, We'll Beat his Ass

Chapter 5 Ford Would Like to Buy Ferrari 101

Chapter 6 No Tougher Test 111

Chapter 7 The GT40 123

Chapter 8 One-Two-Three 131

Part III We're Going to Win From the Lead

Chapter 9 The Tesla Factor 141

Chapter 10 The Road to Le Mans: Sebring and Long Beach 156

Chapter 11 Silverstone, Laguna Seca, and Spa 163

Chapter 12 You Want to Win the Big Ones 174

Chapter 13 We're Going to Win from the Lead 195

Chapter 14 Fifty Years to the Day 205

Epilogue 219

Acknowledgments 223

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