Ford v Ferrari

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Of course, I am not a Ford guy.

I am a movie guy. So, of course, I went to see Ford v Ferrari as soon as it opened in the theatres.

The reviews are good, both in the WSJ and the NYTimes. The previews are enticing. 

As much as the movie is about cars and engineering, it is also about management and personalities. 

It is about conformity versus individuality

It is sales and marketing versus purity of racing

It is mass production versus artisan.

It is about ugly American versus beautiful Italian.

It is about team work versus individual excellence.

I have been a Ferrari lover, since Summer of 2007.  

Driving a F430 on a race track (Beaver Run, now renamed PittRace) was a transformational experience.

Downshifting rapidly as you enter the turn, braking from 165+ down to 100, maybe 90, the engine roar is heavenly, and then, even before you finish the curve, stepping on the gas as you upshift….back to 165+…

The crisp laser-focus handling. The zero (actually, it is 100ms) lag time in transmission, gear shift and when you tap the accelerator or the brake.  

You and the machine meld into one.

In 2008, I bought a Ferrari, 612 Scaglietti, and have enjoyed it very much.

Beyond the car, I also enjoy the details of the engineering innovations. 

There are so many impressive advances…but the one that I chuckle about the most is the “Underbody Generation of Downforce”.

What happens is, because of the aerodynamic design, around 155mph, the car actually starts to “take-off”…that is, it becomes an airplane.

That is not good. Beyond loss of control, you cannot go any faster, as the car has lost contact with the road!

So, one has to design the bottom face of the car to pull it down, aerodynamically. Love it! 

And happy that it has been designed into my Scaglietti.

Until 2016, I thought that the Ferrari experience could not be topped.

Then, I drove the McLaren 570S – yes, named after Bruce McLaren, who “won” the Le Mans that is the main focus of the movie Ford v Ferrari – and it gave me the chills.  

A car that handles even more crisply and responsively than the Ferrari!

I waited for the convertible version, 570 S Spider, which became available in 2018, and bought it to be a companion to my Ferrari.😏

Last year, as some of you know, I participated in Robb Report Car of the Year event in Napa Valley.

We tested the Ferrari 812, the upgrade to the 612, and the McLaren 610 LP, an upgrade to the 570 S. They were both great, and not perceptibly different from my 612 and 570 S Spider.

I voted for McLaren over Ferrari. But the winner (120 voters, in six groups of 20) was Lamborghini, my fourth choice (my third being Aston Martin).

What about the movie Ford vs. Ferrari?

Very satisfying. Not just for the car stuff, but to see the dynamics between Ford (the grandson, and his management team, that included Lee Iacocca), Shelby, Ferrari….

A few days ago, I read this WSJ article on Ferrari with great interest:

Ferrari CEO Races to Build Company’s Brand

The difference between Messrs. Camilleri and Marchionne became apparent at Ferrari’s Formula One team, the pride of the company and the testing ground for many technologies—like the steering wheel gear shift—that eventually make it into series production. Mr. Camilleri’s measured, soft-spoken style contrasts with the freewheeling and often-abrasive Mr. Marchionne, who would publicly criticize employees, an approach that led to high turnover at the racing team but failed to produce results.

Ferrari this season once again came up short against rival Mercedes, but the team won three races in a row for the first time since 2008, an improvement Mr. Camilleri linked to better moods.

“Mercedes has had a lot of stability, and we’ve had something of a revolving door,” Mr. Camilleri said. “People were afraid of taking risks because if they made a mistake they could get their head chopped off,” he said.

Yes folks, engineering is important, but so is management.

What about business results?

Since Mr. Camilleri took over, Ferrari’s stock is up more than 25%, and the company’s $31 billion market value is more than that of former parent, Fiat Chrysler, which last year generated 33 times more revenue and 10 times more profit. Fiat Chrysler made 4.8 million cars in 2018, compared with 9,251 for Ferrari.

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