Giant automakers held talks but ultimately the offer was rejected by Ford, which made it through the financial crisis of 2008 without declaring bankruptcy.

Back in 2008, GM's then CEO Rick Wagoner presented a secret merger proposal to Ford Chairman Bill Ford and CEO Alan Mulally.

The news has emerged in a report in the New York Times by Bill Vlasic who has also written a book on the U.S. auto industry, Once Upon a Car: The Fall and Resurrection of America's Big Three Automakers.

According to the report, the proposal was rejected by Ford and Mulally.

Ford was the only one of the big three American automakers to avoid bankruptcy back during the financial crisis of 2008-2009.

GM's former CEO approached Ford for secret merger talks back in 2008