It has been a public company since the 1950s, but Ford (NYSE:F) is unique among Detroit automakers in that it's still a family business. Chairman Bill Ford is founder Henry Ford's great-grandson, and in recent years he has done an excellent job of setting the company's overall direction.

But many Ford fans and investors don't know that Bill Ford is backed by a very powerful force -- the rest of the Ford family, which to this day still has control thanks to a special class of stock created when Ford first went public.

In this video, Fool contributor John Rosevear explains how the special Ford shares give the Ford family a huge voice in how the automaker is run -- and whether that's a good thing for the rest of Ford's shareholders.

Fool contributor John Rosevear owns shares of Ford and General Motors. Follow him on Twitter at @jrosevear. The Motley Fool recommends Ford and General Motors and owns shares of Ford. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.