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Auto blogFri, 28 Jun 2013 08:14:00 EST
Bill Ford Jr. has more sway than ever over the automaker that bears his surname, as the great-grandson of Ford's founder has reportedly doubled is holdings of Class B Ford stock. According to a report from Reuters (which cites a newly discovered securities filing), he acquired some 3.7 million Class B shares from an unnamed family member.
Class B shares of Ford stock are held by descendants of Henry Ford and offer expanded voting power to their holders - Bill Ford Jr. now controls roughly 11.5 percent of the total Class B pool. Ford Jr. is also a one of five trustees that manage a voting trust that oversees the majority of these "supervoting" shares. In total, Reuters reports there are 71 million Class B shares that account for 40 percent of the voting power in the company, despite making up just 2 percent of the total volume of all Ford stock.
Ford Jr. served as Ford's CEO until 2006, when he stepped down to hire and make space for current CEO, Alan Mulally. The move to consolidate Ford family voting power, at least somewhat, is seen by many as a comforting sign with Mulally's departure from the company likely to happen in the next several years.
The Ford GT40 owns a firm spot on the list of the greatest American racecars ever made, being the first car from the United States to take an overall win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. And now Mecum will auction what it claims is second-oldest GT40 still in existence at its Houston sale on April 12.
The story of the GT40 is fascinating. Henry Ford II attempted to buy Ferrari in the early '60s, but Enzo refused. Ford decided if he couldn't have them, then he would beat the Prancing Horse on the track. Ford went to Carroll Shelby and asked him to spearhead the program. The early cars combined a steel monocoque chassis with Ford's 4.2-liter V8 engine pumping out around 350 horsepower. The first prototype made its public debuted on April 1, 1964, at the New York Auto Show.
Shelby kept building prototypes, including GT/104, which is for sale here. This version featured a lighter steel chassis and was raced at Le Mans in 1964. However, a fire forced it to retire. It was then repainted and had a 4.7-liter (289-cubic-inch) engine fitted. The chassis had its best finish at the 1965 Daytona Continental 2,000 Kilometers where it finished third with Bob Bondurant and Ritchie Ginther behind the wheel. Later that season, it was shipped back to Ford where it was restored and displayed at auto shows until 1971 when the automaker sold it. Since then, it has had many private owners.
Is there a more iconic, American racecar than the Ford GT40? That may be a discussion for another day (although by all means, tell us how wrong we are in Comments), but this video of heaps of GT40s running in the Goodwood Revival races certainly has us thinking that Ford's Ferrari-killer might just be the best racer the Land Of The Free and Home Of The Brave has ever come up with.
That's completely ignoring the fact that the GT40 was largely developed by Brits using American money, but that's besides the point (there was also a rather brash Texan, who had a big role later in development). The resulting vehicle was dominant, besting the cars of Il Commendatore from 1966 to 1969, although it should be noted that Ford's GT40 was unable to beat Ferrari in its first two Le Mans outings in 1964 and 1965.
Those four years of dominance, which started with Ford sweeping the podium, were enough to establish the GT40's legend. And now, here we are almost 50 years later, celebrating the mid-engined monsters at Goodwood, in their first ever one-make race. Take a look below for the entire video.