After World War II, Henry Ford was offered the Volkswagen factory for free by the English government, then in charge of Germany’s industries. They were looking for someone who could operate the plant, thereby creating hundreds of jobs. Ernest Breech, Ford’s chairman of the board looked the plant over and said, “Mr. Ford, I don’t think what we are being offered here is worth a damn!”
He was right in a way. At that time the factory had not yet ever produced more than a few hand-crafted prototypes and the workers could only make cars when it wasn’t raining, because large areas of the roof were missing.
One of Henry Ford’s famous quotes came from this Volkswagen offer. When Ferdinand Porsche showed him the plans for Volkswagens, and Ford was asked about his concern of competition, he said, “If anyone can build a car better or cheaper than I can, that serves me right.”
Seventeen years later, Volkswagen was producing a car every eight seconds, and Ford could have owned the company.