On this day in auto history – June 21st

Mon 21st Jun 2021

It was on this day in 1947 that William Clay Ford - the last surviving grandchild of Henry Ford - married Martha Firestone - daughter of the tyre magnet Harvey S. Firestone - thus uniting two of the richest empire builders in US industry.

Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone had been close friends and allies for much of their lives after Firestone received the highly-lucrative contract to exclusively supply tyres for Ford’s revolutionary best-seller, the Model T. However, neither man would live to see the union, though Henry did witness the courtship.

The fairytale wedding was held in the Firestone’s home city of Akron, Ohio, and was attended by over 1200 invited guests and was billed as one of the most prestigious society weddings in US history.

Unlike his father, Edsel, and his son, William Clay Ford Jnr, the older William Clay Ford never served as president of Ford Motor Company, though he did serve on the board until his death in 2014. He was also owner of the NFL franchise, the Detroit Lions.

Ford’s 100-year business relationship with Firestone was to eventually turn sour in the early 2000’s when the two giants parted ways after exchanging blame over the safety of Firestone tyres following dozens off fatal accidents involving Ford Explorers. The ensuing legal fallout cost both companies billions in lost share value.