November 9, 1960 – McNamara becomes president of Ford

When Robert Strange McNamara was serving in the US Air Force during WWII he made a real impression on Charles “Tex” Thornton, a colonel he served under. Following the war this colonel recruited McNamara and eight other military men who served under on his AAF Statistical Control operation to go into business together, focusing on the prospects of helping big business readjust to civilian production. Ford, then led by Henry Ford II, was losing money after the war. Ford hired the group of ten men to help them reform its administration to turn the company around. This would in turn lead to Robert McNamara being named the president of Ford on this day in 1960. He was the first president of the company from outside the Ford family, but after five weeks he was offered the position of Secretary of Defense for the new Kennedy administration, a job he accepted. When McNamara and the other men were hired to help transform Ford they were a young bunch of suits and ties who the older Ford higher ups were weary of and referred to as the “Quiz Kids.” The team rebranded themselves as the “Whiz Kids” and proved their methods worked with continual results. McNamara started as the manager of planning and financial analysis, but quickly worked his way up the ladder. One of the largest projects that he worked on was the introduction of the Ford Falcon in 1959. This small, economic car was a complete flip from the large land yachts of the 1950s, and it proved to be highly successful. McNamara is often credited for Ford’s postwar success. Pics:Official portrait of McNamara as the US Secretary of Defense – public domain1960 Ford Falcon, a project heavily influenced by McNamara – By Rex Gray – 1960 Ford Falcon 4d sdn cream fvr, CC BY-SA 2.0

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