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Ford's Farley and the ‘F-word’

Thursday, 21 Jul 2011 | 3:41 PM ET

Well, this is the kind of story that spices up a lazy summer afternoon. The website Jalopnikhas received a copy of some comments Ford Marketing Chief Jim Farley gave to New York Times reporter Bill Vlasic, for a book Vlasic is writing about the collapse/rebirth of the auto industry. Citing early copies of the book, "Once Upon a Car", here's what Vlasic wrote about Ford's Farley:

"What Jim Farley really wanted to do was kick the daylights out of General Motors. "I'm going to beat Chevrolet on the head with bat," he said with a slightly wicked smile. "And I'm going to enjoy it." There was a saying going around Ford: GM was like the kid who was born on third base and yells out, "Hey Ma, I hit a triple!" Farley and his fellow Ford executives and workers were ready to rumble."

...This was like the glory days again — Ford versus GM, let the better car company win. "We're going to beat on them, and it's going to be fun," said Farley. "F— GM. I hate them and their company and what they stand for. And I hate the way they're succeeding."

James Farley
Source: Ford
James Farley

As soon as Jalopnik posted the Farley quotes, Twitter lit up with plenty of comments about Farley dropping the F-bomb.

And yes, more than a few were pretty funny.

I also heard from a few at GM who were surprised by Farley's comments. I chuckled, since I've heard similar sentiments, one time or another, at nearly every automaker.

The difference being those expletives have always been thrown on the side, off the record. We've all heard these types of remarks in our offices when co-workers talk about a competitor.

I emailed Vlasic to ask him about the passage and Farley's quotes. His publisher is not allowing him to talk about the book until it's published.

What does the Ford Motor Company think about Farley's comments?

Officially, the company says, “We have not yet seen the book and are unable to comment on the specific quotes. This is a passionate, competitive industry, and we respect all of our competitors. Our greatest focus at Ford is on continuing to make progress on our One Ford plan, including delivering a full family of vehicles with the very best quality, fuel efficiency, safety, smart design and value.”

Having spent time with Farley and knowing how competitive he is, I'm not surprised by his feelings. The man is driven to win. His fire and passion are a big reason why Ford's marketing has been tremendous over the last couple of years. What does surprise me is the fact the man who runs Ford's marketing operations, a man who knows the power (both positive and negative) of words, would use the "F" word in an on-the-record interview. He's getting virtual high-fives on the internet from Ford fans and GM bashers, but how is it playing with others?

Let us know what you think of Farley and the "F" word.

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___________________________ Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.comand Follow me on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews

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  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.

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