Ford in Europe, and Ford of Europe, currently with 60,000 people doing business in 42 countries, has made an indelible mark on the European motoring industry over the last ten decades, and has saved four great marques from extinction in the process. For that alone, we should be thankful.
Ford-Cosworth World Champions
* Jackie Stewart, Tyrrell Ford: 1969, 1971, 1973
* Jochen Rindt, Lotus Ford: 1970
* Emerson Fittipaldi, Lotus Ford, McLaren Ford: 1972, 1974
* Mario Andretti, Lotus Ford: 1979
* Alan Jones, Williams Ford: 1980
* Nelson Piquet, Brabham Ford: 1981
* Keke Rosberg, Williams Ford: 1982
* Michael Schumacher, Benetton Ford: 1997
(Or, What's With European Car And Fords?)For those accustomed to something more along the lines of a red Ferrari or black BMW, this month's cover of european car might be something of a shock. It shouldn't be. The Ford Motor Company is celebrating 100 years of business, and one of the BIG parties is taking place this August at Laguna Seca. Ford is sharing the spotlight with another anniversary of sorts, as this will be the 30th edition of the Monterey Historic Automobile Races. Ford at the Historics? Here is what Steve Earle had to say:
"Ford's racing heritage is so diverse that it gets lost in everyday traffic with so many cars produced, and on the road it is easy to overlook the athlete in the company...like riding a bicycle down the street and not realizing you just passed Lance Armstrong. Ford has real muscle, past present and future."
The three Fords featured on the cover, plus two additional significant European Fords, are a perfect testament to Ford's century of automobile manufacturing and to the people who were inspired to build them.
Lotus Cortina Mk I
Despite the fact that Mike Schaffer was driving a vintage 1966 Lotus Cortina, he was having no problem keeping up with my new Saab 9-3 Vector. I had twice the horsepower, twice the suspension, big wheels and tires and traction control so sophisticated it's smarter than most drivers. Mike, on the other hand, was piloting a car with 13-in. wheels, a solid rear axle and leaf springs and 105 bhp. Amazing a car that old and rudimentary could hold such a frenetic pace up one of SoCal's most challenging mountain roads. Everything I'd heard about adding lightness to increase speed and the virtues of a balanced chassis (the Lotus Cortina is nearly 50/50) was playing out right on my tail. It was obvious the Lotus Cortina was way ahead of its time.
The Lotus Cortina was the brainchild of Ford of Britain's public affairs chief, Walter Hayes. He went on to take part in the founding of the Ford Advanced Vehicle Operation (FAVO), which was later responsible for such efforts as the GT40 and the Escort RS. The Lotus Cortina was conceived and developed rapidly, as anyone who owned one and had the rear suspension collapse will tell you.