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**Ford v Ferrari**
[movie review posted Tuesday, 19 Nov. 2019]
Judy and I went to see the latest film take on road racing’s “Golden Years” of the mid-1960s, 20th Century Fox’s “Ford v Ferrari.” Starring Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale as Ken Miles, it’s thoroughly entertaining, with lots of action on and off the race tracks of that era. I’d rate it as about 45% documentary history and 55% Hollywood… much as one might expect. Be sure to see it in wide-screen/ high resolution and premium sound at an IMAX theater.
The film opens with Carroll winning the 1959 “24 Hours of LeMans” [along with British co-driver Roy Salvadori, altho’ Salvadori’s name isn’t mentioned]. For a short period the film advances through glimpses of the Cobras’ “Golden Years” (1962–’65) when those li’l Shelby/AC 289 Cobra roadsters and the Peter Brock–designed Daytona Coupes utterly thrashed and dominated FIA road racing against all competition. Those small-block serpents accompanied with Peter Brock’s small-block Daytona Coupes in the 1964 racing season had handily wrenched the FIA’s** WMC (World Manufacturers’ Championship) from Enzo’s team, awarded in February, 1965. [**For the inquisitive: “FIA” stands for “Federation Internationale de l’Automobile,” headquartered in Paris.]
But that’s fair. After all, the title of this flick is “Ford v Ferrari,” not “Shelby v Ferrari.” The film fast-forwards to the moment (in early 1965) when Henry Ford II offered Shelby the chance to take over FoMoCo’s troubled GT40 racing program. In 1964 and ’65 Ford’s GT40 was plagued with mechanical breakdowns, most notably transmission and brake system failures. Shelby accepted the challenge, leveraging his drivers (notably Ken Miles) and his chief engineer Phil Remington [curiously portrayed by actor Ray McKinnon, who looks much more like Law & Order’s Detective John Munch than Phil Remington] to identify and correct the problems. All that effort failed to enable Ford to win the 1965 WMC, but the Shelby/Ford collaboration had made serious progress in ironing out the GT40’s reliability wrinkles in preparation for the 1966 season.
The remainder of the film is jam-packed (in true Hollywood fashion) with white-knuckle track racing scenes and spectacular crashes of GT40s, Ferraris and Jaguars. For action buffs, there’s high-speed track action to spare. There’s even a knockdown/ drag-out fist fight between Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles… which of course never happened, but makes for a humorous sideshow. Near the end is the sensational 1-2-3 GT40 finish at (18–19 June, 1966) LeMans. That photo-finish was choreographed in the final laps by Henry Ford II, an intervention that inadvertently robbed Ken Miles of being awarded the win (instead, due to his forward starting position, he was relegated to 2nd Place). Ken—racing legend and British tank driver in WWII—was killed in a bizarre accident at Riverside 8 weeks later, on 17 August. Rommel’s Panzers couldn’t manage to kill him in 1944, but a failed $2 brake or suspension part did in 1966.
Because most of the locations of that era are much different (or non-existent) today, the producers had to search high and low to find locations that resemble those of the 1960s, or could be altered to recreate those locations. Much of the shooting was done here in southern California, at Willow Springs International Motorsports Park [about 50 miles north of where I’m writing this] and at California (Auto Club) Speedway in Fontana, east of Los Angeles. LeMans’ pits and grandstands were convincingly re-built as a set at Agua Dulce Air Park right here in Santa Clarita. Three race tracks in Georgia were chosen as almost perfect to recreate some of the riveting 24 Hours of LeMans (1966) footage. Hillbank Motor Sports in Irvine provided the lion’s share of the rolling stock [289 and 289FIA Cobras, 427 Cobras, Daytona Coupes and GT40s] for the flick.
Don’t miss it. It really is worth your ticket price. Lots of fast action, a dose of real history and a spectacular and very convincing performance by Christian Bale as the testy-but-talented Ken Miles.
Here’s a Tip: if you type <Ken Miles> into CobraCountry’s Sidewinder search engine, you’ll instantly get a hotlink to a Road & Track tribute article to Ken by James Crow that we posted about 15 years ago on CobraCountry titled “Ken Miles: an appreciation.” Read it and appreciate.
Addendum: on Nov. 20 Peter Brock contributed these personal recollections to this review: “Hi Curt… there was some slight support from Ford from the time Shel’ convinced Ford’s Iacocca to front him a couple of V8s and about 25 grand to build the first snakes. The good press generated by those assets and self-evident speed advantage against the ’vettes put enough money on the table to win the SCCA’s first professional series, the USRRC (United States Road Racing Championship) in 1963. Then Goodyear put up the bucks for the Daytona and we won Sebring, convincing Ford to pay for Europe in 1964. Those successes in Europe (when the GT40s were all DNFs) convinced The Deuce (i.e., Henry Ford II) to ante up some grubstake for ’65. After Ford’s complete failure at LeMans (11 of 12 Ford-powered cars blew up!), Ford gave the entire program to Shelby with more for Kar Kraft for the subsequent development of the 427 MkII and later the Mk IV. Ford’s wins began in ’66, as the flick portrays.” PB
A sampling of CobraCountry’s
29 November 2019: Please mark my drop-dead gorgeous E.R.A. “Cammer Cobra” “SOLD”! It’s going to a very knowledgeable SOHC buyer out in Missouri. It will be in good hands. Many thanks! Shaun Goodwin
Note: the thumbnail image above of Shaun’s E.R.A. 427 cammer Cobra is hotlinked to his Showcase page… so you can see for yourself his motophoto expertise!
29 November 2019: Seasons greetings, CobraCountry: My gorgeous ERA#532 sold yesterday (on Thanksgiving Day!). I want to thank you for sticking with me along the way, guiding my efforts (especially my determination to take good photographs) to market my Cobra.
On that note, incidentally, the lucky new owner way out west in Santa Fe, New Mexico, purchased my Cobra without flying in to see it in person, having seen it only in my photos!
Even through we never met I feel we have become good friends over time. I hope some day our paths cross so I can thank you personally for all you’ve done.
I wish you both best wishes going into the holiday season and a future of good health and happiness. Robert
Note: the thumbnail image above of Robert’s E.R.A. Cobra is hotlinked to his Showcase page… so you can see for yourself his motophoto expertise!
31 October 2019: You can mark my ‘Deep Impact Blue’ Cobra SOLD! Thanks to Cobra Country’s global reach to Cobra buyers, it went down south to a lucky new owner in Wilmington, North Carolina. He also purchased my nice enclosed trailer so he could take it home with him. You can color me a happy camper! Many thanks! Charlie Primpas
Note: the thumbnail image above of Charlie’s Cobra is hotlinked to his Showcase page… so you can see for yourself his motophoto expertise!
31 October 2019: Dear Cobra Country: You can mark my beautiful West Coast Cobra SOLD! Gone to a lucky new owner who of course found it on your site! Many thanks! Darek Wajda
Note: the thumbnail image above of Darek’s West Coast Cobra is hotlinked to his Showcase page… so you can see for yourself his extraordinary motophoto prowess!
28 October 2019: Dear Cobra Country: I sold my Indigo Blue serpent (SPO1983)! It went to a new owner and a new stable in northern California. Many thanks to your site and to your Cobra marketing expertise! Doug Harding:
Note: the thumbnail image above of Doug’s Superformance Cobra is hotlinked to his Showcase page… so you can see for yourself his beauty for yourself!
9 October 2019: Dear Cobra Country: You can mark my Backdraft ‘Widowmaker’ SOLD! Gone to a new owner and a new stable someplace in Indiana. Many thanks for your guidance on our photos and our description. Mark D’Andrea, New York
Note: the thumbnail image above of Mark’s Backdraft ‘Widowmaker’ Cobra is hotlinked to his Showcase page… so you can see for yourself his beauty, shot by Vintage Motorsports’ Jay Linke!
FIRE NEWS UPDATE
Friday, 1 November, 2019
Not the conclusion of the bad news. Early Wednesday morning (October 30) power was again shut off for the entire area when high winds again reached gale-force proportions, thus stoking both old and new fire fronts. Our offices were once again shut down until Friday afternoon (Oct. 31). Low humidity and dry foliage combined with gale-force winds is a menacing co-incidence of events.
So once again, if you attempted to contact us during that time and were unable to do so, that’s the reason. But at least we’re back in full operation and (mostly) bordered by kindling-free landscape.
Due to the big ‘Tick Canyon’ wildfire, CobraCountry’s offices were shut down for over 30 hours—from before noon on Thursday (24 October) until Friday evening. We were forced to promptly evacuate at about 3:00am on Friday, along with over 40,000 other wildfire refugees here in Santa Clarita.
So if you attempted to contact us during that time and were unable to do so, that’s the reason.
The good news: we’re all okay—thanks entirely to the relentless efforts of the LAFD and the collaborating fire companies, the wind-driven flames were stopped short of our immediate area.
10/16/2019: I’m happily reporting that my 1967 Indigo Blue Pearl Shell Valley Cobra and its enclosed trailer is SOLD! It’s gone to a very nice couple from Virginia; they had the trailer hooked up and the Cobra loaded up and took off a little after 5:00 pm last night. They should be pulling into the Cobra’s new home in the Shenandoah Valley area pretty soon, or they may be home already if it was a short stop last night. I want to say “Thank You” to you and your wife Judy; you folks treated me very good and I enjoyed our phone conversations. Thanks, Greg Nash.
Note: the thumbnail image above of Greg’s Shell Valley Cobra is hotlinked to his Showcase page… so you can see for yourself his extraordinary motophoto prowess!
9/23/2019: Be advised that my Maui Blue ERA 289FIA has SOLD! Gone to the distant southwest! Many thanks for your splendid photography guidelines! Bill Cadley
Note: the thumbnail image above of Bill’s ERA 289FIA Cobra is hotlinked to his Showcase page… so you can see for yourself his extraordinary motophoto prowess!
8/26/19: Wanted to let you know that I sold my Ruby Red Factory Five Racing Cobra. Going to a new home in upstate New York. Many thanks for the photography help. Best regards, Mike Leach
Note: the thumbnail image above of Mike’s Factory Five Racing Cobra is hotlinked to his Showcase page… so you can see for yourself his fine motophotos!
8/23/19: You can mark my blue Superformance Cobra (SPO1538) SOLD! Gone down south to Geneva, Illinois. The deal was actually made 4 days after it appeared on Cobra Country, and the new owner picked it up today. Thanks for all of your site’s and Curt’s personal help and advice leading up to the sale. Best regards, Mike Bingen
Note: the thumbnail image above of Mike’s Superformance Cobra is hotlinked to his Showcase page… so you can see for yourself the fine motophotos that snagged his buyer’s attention!
8/18/19: Dear Cobra Country: You can mark my red 1965 427S/C Hi-Tech Cobra SOLD! I had several serious inquiries within the first week; after lots of emails, questions, and information exchanged, SALE CONCLUDED!
MY Cobra is off to a great car guy and knowledgeable Cobra owner, in Texas. It will be stabled next to a stunning, handbuilt 1960s Lister reproduction.
Send my personal thanks to Curt and Judy. Curt’s expert advice on photography was absolutely dead-on. He spent extra time helping me to capture those top-notch photos to properly showcase that red beauty, and it all paid off with a great ad.
Semper Fi! Jerry Goddard, Redondo Beach, California
PS: This was my second Cobra I sold on your outstanding website. Keep up the good work!
Note: the thumbnail image above of Jerry’s Hi-Tech Cobra is hotlinked to his Showcase page… so you can see for yourself his fine motophotos!
8/18/19: Dear Cobra Country: Success! You can mark my Titanium Superformance Cobra (SPO1797) SOLD! It went to another Cobra enthusiast only 2 hours away. I had a few good qualified calls and the right person popped up and bought it sight-unseen.
That’s a testament to your photo tips and your great advice. Thanks for your help! Brad Salamone, Reading, Pennsylvania
Note: the thumbnail image above of Brad’s Superformance Cobra is hotlinked to his Showcase page… so you can see for yourself his fine motophotos!
8/15/19: Dear Cobra Country: You can mark that magnificent Abu Dhabi Blue Backdraft Roadster (BDR#625) SOLD! Went to a new stable and a lucky new owner way up in Denver, Colorado. Please tell Curt that, once again, his advice on taking good photos paid big dividends, and my photos and my Showcase ad looked fantastic!
Many thanks! Matthew May
Note: the thumbnail image above of Matthew’s Backdraft Racing Cobra is hotlinked to his Showcase page… so you can marvel over his Cobra photos!
July, 2019: Dear Cobra Country: You can officially mark my red ERA Cobra “SOLD.” Thanks to your photography tips, sage advice and great website, I received 4 solid offers within 2 days of posting my car on Cobra Country. My ERA will be making a trans-Atlantic crossing, and will reside in a new motorcar stable someplace in France.
Again, my thanks—your professional mentoring of my photos and the posting narrative played a key role in its quick sale!
(near) Panama City, Florida
Note: the thumbnail image above of Ken’s Cobra is hotlinked to his Showcase page… so you can marvel over his mastery at photographing his ERA Cobra!
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