After the war, Henry II set about remaking the company in the style of its arch competitor, General Motors. Included in this effort was the hiring of former GM executive Ernest Breech and others with a background at what was then the world’s largest automaker. Breech, in turn, hired a group of veterans of the Army Air Forces’ Statistical Control units who would be collectively remembered as the “Whiz Kids”.
Morsey was a sort of Junior Whiz Kid in that he too was a Statistical Control veteran, and had served under Robert S. McNamara and Jack Reith during the war, but had not been hired in with the original group of Whiz Kids in 1946. To Morsey’s advantage, however, was that he was a lifelong Ford enthusiast with a personal enthusiasm for the product he would now help to shape. The original Whiz Kids were interested in scientific management and had dispassionately hired themselves out to the highest bidder.
Morsey’s journey to prove to Breech, McNamara, Henry Ford II and the rest of the decision makers at Ford that the V-8 needed to remain in production is just the springboard for the rest of his memoir,The Man Who Saved the V-8, but it forms an important frame of reference for all of his later actions at FoMoCo. And important actions they were: Morsey would be instrumental in the creation of the Thunderbird, the Skyliner retractable and ultimately the Mustang—not as an engineer, or a stylist, but as someone who understood what the public wanted and how the company could give it to them and thereby sell more cars.
Further, it does not seem Morsey gives unwarranted urgency to the action or weight to the decisions. The past is a comfortable place because we know the outcomes, but at the time these were current events with the potential to make or break the company’s place in the market. It is also worth noting that Morsey was a young man at the time, and his enthusiasm for the product and view of its importance to the consumer come off as completely genuine.
If you’re looking for something to read as the weather turns colder, you could do far worse than to pick up a copy of The Man Who Saved the V-8 and learn something about a little-known chapter in Ford history.
Article courtesy of Hemmings Daily, written by David Conwill.