The relentless rivalry between Ford Motor Co. and General Motors almost didn't happen.
The restless Henry Ford considered selling his company several times in the early years of the 20th century. In 1908, GM founder Billy Durant eagerly sought to oblige him.
Durant wanted to acquire Ford through a holding company that would pay for Ford stock with stock in the new conglomerate. The pitch brought Ford to the table in 1909, but he wanted cash.
Too bad for GM, Durant let that offer linger. GM would spend the century fighting Ford tooth and nail over every tenth of a point of market share. And the U.S. economy would be all the better for it.
For the rest of the story, read Automotive News' Ford 100 commemorative edition on June 16. For information about the special issue, go to www.autonews.com/ford100/.