DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. last week asked President Donald Trump to comply with its rules by wearing a face mask and other protective equipment throughout his visit to a Michigan plant building ventilators.
He chose not to, aside from a brief behind-the-scenes tour, but the automaker was ready if he did.
In the days leading up to the presidential visit, Ford scrambled to prepare a one-off face shield specifically for Trump. A member of the automaker’s D-Ford design team mocked up a number of special shield designs in his personal shop: one featuring a blue band with the presidential seal and “President of the United States” stamped in the middle, another with a simple red, white and blue background with the words “United States of America.”
Ford ultimately chose another design: The words “Commander-in-Chief” over a navy blue background, flanked by two Ford Blue Oval logos and accented by red stripes and white stars. It was made with the same rubber door-seal gasket tube and plastic clips used on Ford’s regular shields, produced at a nearby facility in southeast Michigan.
The plan, had the president acquiesced, was to present him with the shield and a standard-issue white face mask bearing the Ford logo that he would wear for the duration of his visit. That never happened, although Trump did don a navy mask with the presidential seal for a brief private tour of three supercars.
The special shield production underscores the effort Ford undertook to welcome a president with whom it’s had a rocky relationship in the past, and to convince him to don protective equipment that he so far has shunned.
Ford marked the visit by updating the faces of workers’ social distancing watches, which beep when two of them come too close to each other, with the presidential seal for the day.
It also commissioned two leather bomber jackets — one black and one brown — that it gave the president. One side of the chest featured a patch with Trump’s name and title, while the other side featured the presidential seal, Ford’s Blue Oval logo and a Project Apollo patch. Project Apollo is Ford’s code-name for its effort to manufacture medical equipment.
The automaker also set up a camera-ready display of 14 Fords and Lincolns, including its F-150 EV prototype, the 10 millionth Mustang and a Transit van used as a mobile coronavirus test lab.
At the request of the White House, Ford also assembled three GT supercars — one from each generation — after advisers mentioned that Trump had watched the film Ford v. Ferrari and wanted to see the car that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1966.
Ford also displayed a Model A-E ventilator, encased in glass, for a photo-op near the end of Trump’s visit. The president stood directly behind it, flanked by Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford, CEO Jim Hackett, Vice President of Enterprise Product Line Management Jim Baumbick and an official from GE Healthcare. The president was the only one of the five who wasn’t wearing a mask.