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Ken Miles Death: Exploring the True Story and Changes in Ford v. Ferrari

The way Ken Miles dies in Ford vs. Ferrari is very true to life, even though the movie changes a few details to make the story flow better. Hollywood wanted to make a movie about the real-life story of how Ford beat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Man’s race in 1966.

It’s a fascinating story about egos clashing, deals being made behind the scenes, and bright artists trying to find a balance between artistic integrity and commercial viability. The story ends with a thrilling race in which one wrong move could lead to a horrible and fatal crash.

Christian Bale, who had worked with director James Mangold before on his remake of “3:10 to Yuma,” co-stars as Ken Miles, a World War II veteran, and professional driver with a lot of ability but a short fuse. Shelby hires Ken to help him because he is an old friend.

The death of Ken Miles is a big reason why the real story of Ken Miles and Carroll Shelby in Ford v. Ferrari caught the world’s attention so much in 1966. Just a few months after Ford beat Ferrari in the 1966 Le Mans, Ken Miles was killed while trying out a new Ford car (the J-car) at California’s Riverside International Raceway.

This is sadly shown in the movie. Ken Mile’s Ford test car suddenly flipped, fell, and caught fire, just like what happened to Christian Bale in the movie Ford v. Ferrari. Even today, no one knows exactly what went wrong, but Ken Miles was thrown out of the car and killed quickly at the end of a day of test runs.

It’s a hard blow to fans just as things are coming together in the second half of Ford vs. Ferrari, and it’s mostly true. In Ford v. Ferrari, there were some changes made to the way Ken Miles died.

Why Ford vs Ferrari Changed Ken Miles’ Death

The real Ken Miles died when he hit the ground after being thrown from his test car. The exact reasons why the Ford J-Car he was trying broke down have never been found, but there has been a lot of speculation about them. In Ford v. Ferrari, James Mangold changed a lot of the details of how Ken Miles died. But these changes were done very well and helped to improve both the story of Ford vs. Ferrari and its main point about why Ken Miles’ death was such a tragedy.

In the movie, Ken Miles’ Ford test car crashes when the brakes fail, instead of throwing him out of the car for no reason. In the Ford vs. Ferrari movie, Christian Bale’s character dies in the following fire, which leads to the Ken Miles death scene.

Miles was the second test driver to die while testing a J-car in five months. Walt Hansgen was the first driver to die while testing a J-car. Before Miles took the wheel, the J-car testing was stopped. After Ken Miles died, the car was changed a lot and given the name Ford Mk IV.

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In Ford vs. Ferrari, Ken Miles’s death was changed in a way that made sense for the story. Even though James Mangold made some changes to Ford vs. Ferrari, race fans have praised the movie for how realistic it is.

There isn’t a single movie based on a true story that doesn’t exaggerate or change some of the facts to make the story more dramatic or flow better on screen, and Ford v. Ferrari was no different.

And as much as Hollywood likes to give biopics happy endings, Ford v. Ferrari goes against what people expect and shows that race car drivers don’t always make it out of the car alive.

Ford v. Ferrari’s Changes Showed How Ken Miles’s Death Affected His Family And Carroll Shelby

Ford v Ferrari is more about Shelby and Miles’ tempestuous friendship than Ford’s racing program, so it makes sense that the movie changes a few real-life details to focus on how Ken Miles’ death affected Carroll Shelby and his family rather than how Ford changed after that.

It also allows the previous sequence involving Christian Bale’s Ken Miles’ near-death to work as proper foreshadowing and the film as a whole to demonstrate the high price race car drivers pay for risking their lives, which fans typically don’t see.

Ford v Ferrari has another moment in the buildup to Ken Miles’ death scene that, while manufactured with a lot of creative licenses, shows how complicated Miles’ connection with his loved ones was due to his career and why his death was so tragic.

Miles, Shelby, and their team test the GT40 MkII, which fails its brakes and catches fire, nearly killing Miles. Miles’ wife Mollie (Caitriona Balfe) and son Pete (Noah Jupe) witness the crash.

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Though Ford v Ferrari alters the story, Peter Miles realizes how risky his father’s job is. Ford v Ferrari’s adjustments allowed this debate to be condensed into a few important emotional passages after Ken Miles’ death.

Ford installed a NASCAR-style rollover cage in their race cars and favored younger drivers after Miles’ death, but the film wouldn’t have had the same effect because it was seen as a self-serving move by Ford rather than a respectful or personal one for Miles.

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