If you’ve been keeping attune with automotive news in the past week, you’ll know that the biggest story relating to Ford is the carmaker’s decision to sue John Cena. Ford may live to regret this.
Ford alleges that the wrestler-turned-Hollywood-star illegally sold his 2017 Ford GT after just one month of ownership, directly violating a contract signed by Cena agreeing to not sell the desirable supercar within 24 months of delivery.
If all of Ford’s allegations are true, it seems to be a pretty obvious breach of contract and could cost Cena dearly. In fact, Cena has even admitted to and apologized to Ford for profiting from his GT.
In response, Ford is seeking in excess of $75,000 for damages relating to brand value, ambassador activity, and customer goodwill. Additionally, it wants all the profit Cena made from the sale.
On the face of it, these demands seem rather reasonable. After all, Cena profited from a car he wasn’t supposed to sell. However, it’s likely that the whole saga will tarnish Ford’s image more than Cena actually selling the car.
From the outset, many have criticized Ford for its decision to make prospective Ford GT owners apply to own the supercar. That’s right, Ford required customers to prove to the carmaker that they were good enough to fork out roughly $500,000 on the car.
Understandably, this caused uproar across many Ford communities, particularly when it emerged that many life-long Ford enthusiasts and collectors had their applications tossed out to the trash. In their place, a number of F-grade internet ‘celebrities’ and YouTubers were offered the chance to buy the 2017 GT, largely because they had respectable social media followings.
Yes, that’s the world we live in. If you don’t have at least 500,000 Instagram followers, good luck buying a top-of-the-range Ford. Worked your whole life to afford a car like the Ford GT? Too bad. Prefer to keep your vehicles in museum-condition and admire them as art pieces rather than drive them? Too bad. Own a fleet of iconic Fords but are unwilling to bend at the knee and beg for the brand to accept your money? Too bad, Ford says.
Ford claims that 69 per cent of new GT owners have a previous-generation model. If that figure is true, we tip our hat to Ford for appreciating many of its loyal customers. However, the hoops one has to jump through to try and secure an order for the new car is utterly ridiculous. Ferrari is no different.
It remains to be seen how much Cena profited from selling his GT but it wouldn’t be excessive to guestimate somewhere in the region of $100,000. If that were the case, then Ford could stand to make roughly $175,000 from suing the wrestler, who asserts he needed to liquidate some his assets to pay bills. However, we can’t help but think the lawsuit could affect Ford’s brand image to the tune of millions. After all, just a couple of customers with Ford GTs on the way need to cancel their orders for the whole saga to cost Ford dearly.
Of course, there’s no doubt that Ford has thousands of people waiting in line to purchase one of the 1000 GTs tipped to be produced. If someone cancels their order, another applicant will get the order.
Nonetheless, does Ford want to be seen as a company that kicks a person when their down? Financial situations change and it’s not unreasonable to think Cena had the money to buy the GT two years ago but upon delivery, discovered that his money could be spent better elsewhere. In Ford’s world, that’s not acceptable. In fact, in Ford’s world, it is offensive to the brand’s legacy for a GT owner to have the audacity to think they can actually sell the car they paid $500,000 for. How dare they.
There’s no doubt that the new Ford GT is an impressive car. In fact, the carmaker was happy to announce that the GT is quicker than the McLaren 675LT and Ferrari 458 Speciale around a racetrack earlier this year, despite the McLaren being two years’ old and the Ferrari roughly four years’ old.
What’s more, by the time Ford got around to actually delivering the new supercar, the game has moved on, most notably with the McLaren 720S, Ferrari 488 GTB, and Lamborghini Huracan Performante. Curiously, Ford intends on building the GT through the 2020 model year by which time competitors to the GT will have made another significant leap in performance, possibly leaving an unchanged GT dead in the water.
Chances are, Ford will walk away from its lawsuit against John Cena feeling all high and mighty for enforcing an aspect of a contract that should never have been there in the first place. It’s a shame that it’s willing to burn bridges with enthusiasts in the process.