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Ford v Ferrari and the virtue of courage



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There is a scene in the terrific new film Ford v Ferrari where Henry Ford II grills his lieutenant Lee Iaccoca about the failed bid to acquire Enzo Ferrari’s racing car enterprise. Ford learns that Ferrari has a message for him, and Iacocca dutifully delivers: “He said Ford makes ugly little cars in ugly factories.”

And there the story takes off, following the key figures: legendary race team manager Carroll Shelby, (played with droll understatement by Matt Damon) and Ken Miles, the misfit British racing car driver (captured with total authenticity by Christian Bale). Their mission is to defeat Ferrari in the 1966 24 Hours of LeMans with a new purpose built Ford GT40. The classical and Christian virtues (arête in the Greek, or habitual excellence) are all over Ford v Ferrari.

These are among others honesty (truthful at all times and lacking in hypocrisy) and faithfulness (faithful to a calling, to family, to friends). Miles is faithful to his wife Mollie – the civilizing force among the alpha competitors that inhabit her life – and to the son who accompanies him to the track and garage to learn by seeing. But prime among these virtues is undoubtedly courage.



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