Retail Front

Ford DWI Arrests Show Times Have Changed

Elena Ford company portrait Elena Ford mug shot. When the police arrested Henry Ford II for drunken driving in the 1970s, he brushed off reporters seeking comment, saying, “Never complain, never explain.”

His granddaughter, Elena Ford, got busted for the same offense April 3. She's mum publicly, but through her attorney expresses sorrow and “extreme embarrassment.”

Elena Ford mug shot, left and company portrait

American society and its legal system take driving while intoxicated much more seriously today than four decades ago.

Back then, Henry Ford II could bail out, pay a fine and not feel obligated to explain himself or even say, “Sorry.”

But today, Elena Ford and fellow DWI defendants must keep the contrition coming to satisfy a court system that, in such cases, wants the three “Rs” – regret, remorse and repentance.

When Henry II got arrested, his mistress was in the car, a Ford Mustang. Elena’s 11-year-old son was with her when Ferndale, MI, police stopped her for speeding and hopping a curb in a Ford Explorer.

It’s tough to say which of the two occupant situations is worse.

It looks bad to get busted with your mistress next to you. But she went on to become Henry II’s wife No. III.

Elena might be in more trouble. She could face child-endangerment charges. “Getting arrested for DWI with your kid in the car is kind of over the top,” a local newspaper reporter covering the story tells me.

A grandson of Henry Ford, Henry Ford II (a.k.a. Hank the Deuce) headed Ford from 1945 to 1979. He unquestionably ran the show because, as he asserted in another laconic comment, “My name is on the building.”

Elena Ford, a fifth-generation family member to work for the auto company, is its director of global marketing, sales and service. She is the second-highest ranking Ford at Ford.

To her credit, she didn’t pull a “Do-you-know-who-I-am?” or similar nonsense on the cops.

“Ms. Ford was cooperative with Ferndale police personnel and did not request, nor did she receive, special treatment,” says Police Chief Timothy Collins.

As a first offender, chances are she won’t do jail time. Then she can presumably get her act together and carry on with her life. Chances seem good for that, too. As a retired Ford PR guy tells me, “Ford women have always been strong.”

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Steve Finlay

Steve Finlay is the editor of WardsAuto Dealer Business magazine and a senior editor for His journalism career started 42 years ago as a crime reporter. A Michigan native, he likes...

Jim Ziegler

Jim Ziegler, president of Ziegler Supersystems, is a trainer, commentator and public speaker on dealership issues.
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