Bookshelf: Kar-Kraft by Charlie Henry

Charlie Henry has written a fantastic new book that goes deep behind the scenes at Kar-Kraft, Ford’s private racing skunk works in the 1960s. It’s an absolute must-read for race fans and Ford fans alike—here’s our review.  



From early in 1965 until the ugly and bitter end in the winter of 1970, Kar-Kraft was Ford’s own private race car company. Not a division or subsidiary of Ford, Kar-Kraft was an independently owned and managed business with just one customer: the Ford Motor Company, in particular the automaker’s racing and performance projects.

Thus insulated from the automaker’s giant bureaucracy but with revolving-door access to its world-class personnel and resources, Kar-Kraft became a linchpin of Ford’s global Total Performance campaign. The Le Mans-winning Ford GT Mark II and Ford Mark IV race cars, the Mustang Trans-Am program, the production Boss 429 Mustang: These and more were all Kar-Kraft creations. But due to the unique arrangement, there is tremendous confusion to this day (and a whole lot of misinformation) as to just what Kar-Kraft was and how the operation worked.

Fortunately, Charlie Henry is here to clear up all the historic confusion with an awesome new book titled Kar-Kraft: Race Cars, Prototypes and Muscle Cars of Ford’s Specialty Vehicle Activity Program. Charlie, a second-generation Motor City industry professional, was the perfect man for the job: he worked at Kar-Kraft in the glory days of the late ’60s, and as an enthusiastic young gearhead he soaked up the scene like a sponge. 

Using his own recollections and in-depth interviews of his old friends at Kar-Kraft, Charlie has assembled a fascinating study of the company and its people, its facilities, and its amazing accomplishments. (Full disclosure: Charlie is a valued friend, as are some original Kar-Kraft employees.) There’s an awesome collection of photographs, many never published before, and pages and pages of documents—historic, sensitive, jaw-dropping documents—that detail the complicated relationship between Ford and Kar-Kraft. These alone make the book a keeper. For example, the matter of how Ford finally ended the arrangement, and why, is set forth here with no punches pulled.

We could go on and on, but we’ll cut this to the bottom line. If you’re a fan of Ford racing or the motorsports scene of the ’60s in general, Charlie’s book is a must-read and a must-have. Get a copy now, you’ll thank yourself later.


Kar-Kraft: Race Cars, Prototypes and Muscle Cars of Ford’s Specialty Vehicle Activity Program; by Charlie Henry. CarTech Books; Forest Lake, MN 55025; Phone 800-551-4754. Hardcover; 10 x 10 inches; 192 pages; $39.95. Also available at Amazon.