Ousted chief executive Jac Nasser is thought to have signed a deal with troubled Ford Motor Company preventing him from joining a rival carmaker for up two years.
Chairman Bill Clay Ford, 44, could not work with Mr Nasser but respects his capabilities enough to see him as a threat elsewhere.
One Ford source said: "Bill and the family might regret not keeping Jac in place for a while longer as a sort of flak jacket."
The "retiring" chief executive, said to have earned £8m last year, left with an agreement worth millions of pounds. On November 15, the US Securities and Exchange Commission's filing regulations will reveal the scale of the pay-off and when Mr Nasser could take another top automotive post.
There are few executive roles within the automotive sector which pride and status would allow Mr Nasser to accept. One might involve restoring the Chrysler part of DaimlerChrysler, currently overseen by German Dieter Zetsche.
But it was on the American front that Ford haemorrhaged most of its third quarter £480m losses.
Joining Chrysler would replicate the move by another sacked former Ford chief executive, Lee Iococca. He was dismissed because Mr Ford's uncle, Henry Ford II, "just didn't like him."
The Ford family, with a pivotal 40% company stake, removed their most recent 'hired hand' because of "managerial paralysis" and mounting media clamour.
One company insider said: "The jury remains out on Bill Clay Ford's abilities as the boss. Ford is a family firm as others have found to their cost. Bill's father, board member Bill Clay snr, at 76, played his role."
Mr Ford has moved to repair relations with Bridgestone, whose Firestone-branded tyres are at the centre of a bitter recall dispute which cost Ford £1.3bn and contributed to Mr Nasser's demise.
His mother is Martha Firestone, reflecting links between the industrial dynasties dating back to Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone.
Working closely now with Mr Ford are Sir Nick Scheele (elevated to chief operating officer) and 70-year-old former Wells Fargo chief executive Carl Reichardt (vice chairman).