With rare photos and film footage, this short video from Ford Motor Company offers a special glimpse into the life and work of William Clay Ford, who passed away earlier this week at the age of 88.
The passing of William Clay Ford (b.1925) on March 9 marks the end of an era. The last surviving Ford descendant who personally knew Henry Ford, he was the youngest grandson of the Ford Motor Co. founder. He was the son of Edsel Ford and the brother of Henry Ford II, Benson Ford, and Josephine Ford. His son is William Clay Ford, Jr., Ford’s current chairman.
Among his many duties at Ford, William Clay served as vice chairman from 1980 to 1989, led the powerful finance committee from 1987 to 1995, and remained a Ford board member until 2005. However, Ford is best known among enthusiasts as the head of the short-lived Continental Division, which produced the 1956-1957 Continental Mark II, the most ambitious luxury car in Ford history.
As director of the Mark II program, William Clay displayed his father Edsel’s impeccable sense of style. “He had exquisite taste, and he knew when an idea was right,” said John Reinhart, Continental chief designer. In another life, he may well have chosen a career in design, but the family business led him to earn an economics degree from Yale instead. This week, the Ford Motor Co. Fund announced the William Clay Ford Automotive Design Scholarship, which will distribute $1 million in support to five automotive design students per year over the next 20 years.