Many countries have automotive families that have contributed to the culture and history of the automotive world Peugeot in France, Porsche in Germany, Toyoda in Japan and Agnelli in Italy, to name a few.
In America, it has been the Fords. For 100 years, people have worked for Fords knowing that it is a family business. Ever since Henry Ford started building cars on Mack Avenue in Detroit, his family has been an important part of our automotive heritage.
I met Henry Ford II in the early 1970s at a press introduction for the Mustang II. I was told that I would dine that night with the chairman. Being relatively new to the industry and Automotive News, I knew it would be an interesting evening.
Henry was charming and interested in this new fellow who was running his trade paper, which he said he had been reading since he was 7 or 8 years old.
During our dinner, we were served some fine red wine. When I said how much I enjoyed the wine, I discovered two fresh bottles had been placed in front of our two place settings. After dinner, Henry asked me if I had anything planned for the rest of the evening. When I told him no, we left to enjoy a nightcap in the bar, leaving the entourage of PR executives in the lurch. It was the beginning of a friendship that lasted until his untimely death.
During our first conversation, I called him Mr. Ford, and he insisted that I call him Henry. I always did after that evening.