Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Henry Ford II, saving the legacy of Ford Motor Company

In the middle of World War II, Edsel Ford, the man who saved Ford Motor Company from is own father's destructive capricious nature passed away in 1943 from a rare form of stomach cancer. His oldest son was in the Navy, and by order of the government was released and sent back to Ford Motor Company. His grandfather Henry Ford I had resumed the presidency of the company in name, while his man Harry Bennet actually ran things in Dearborn.
At one point, things were so dire at Ford, that the government tried to persuade Charles Sorenson, a long time Ford executive, who had been forced out by Henry I and Harry Bennet to come back and run the company for the government, so production of vital war materials would be continuos. Harry Bennet had so poisoned Henry I against his own grandson, that he held little power at Ford. That is until his mother and grandmother both pressured the old man to fire Bennet and allow young Henry II run the company.
And while many though of Henry the "Deuce" untried and unproven, he did just that. Remarkably well actually, because he recognized his own shortcomings and brought in the right team of managers to get things done in a modern way. The Whiz Kids they were called. And in 1946 Ford was the first domestic automaker to bring out new models after the war.
Not like his grandfather, nor like his father, Henry II was his own man. And brought Ford Motor Company through some of the toughest and most prosperous times the industry would see.
Here's a bit I found online, in 1967 Ford's Lincoln Mercury division had built prototypes called XR7S which became the production model XR7 and in 68 the Cougar Eliminator. The one pictured here was one driven by Henry II himself, and later bought by a Ford Employee who last showed it publicly in 1980. I wonder if this car still exists today?

I'm continuing reading Douglas Brinkley's book about the history of Ford, the family and company.

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