February 5, 2007


And the man behind the brand is...
Enzo Ferrari

World War I found the man whose name was destined to become the most glamorous in the automotive world shoeing mules for the Italian army. It was not long before Enzo Ferrari discovered more suitable transportation.

Enzo Ferrari was born in Modena, in northern Italy in 1898. After his military obligations were fulfilled Ferrari hired on as a test driver for Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazionale, fulfilling a dream held since seeing his first automobile race at the age of ten. Ferrari switched to Alfa Romeo in 1920, becoming a member of Italy’s national racing team. In addition to his duties as a driver Ferrari was in charge of a group of designers, engineers and mechanics building a new Alfa Romeo racer.

In 1923 Ferrari took the checkered flag at a minor road race in Savio and was awarded a prancing-horse crest by the Countess Paolina Baracca. From that point Ferrari adorned all his racers with the crest, using a canary yellow background symbolic of his native Modena. His racing career flourished in the 1920s. In 1924 he was knighted for upsetting a powerful German team and in 1928 Benito Mussolini bestowed upon Ferrari the title commendatore, which he was often referred to until his death.

Ferrari retired from racing in 1929 at the age of 31 and returned to Modena where he oversaw freelance mechanical work for his wealthy friends enamored with amateur road racing. In 1932 Alfa Romeo appointed Scuderia Ferrari as its official racing team and the next year Ferrari won 27 of the 39 races it entered. For the rest of the decade before World War II Ferrari drifted in and out of racing while dabbling with his own sports cars on the side.

He continued to design racing cars during World War II but his manufacturing activities were limited to machinery for the Italian war effort. In 1946 the first racer to sport the Ferrari marque, an open two-seater powered by a V-12 engine, was introduced. Before he died more than 40 years later in 1988, in his 90th year, Ferrari would produce less than 50,000 automobiles.

Ferrari sold cars only to pay for his racing program. On the race track he would win more than 5,000 times. The cars that fueled this success were greeted with the most enthusiastic praise possible. A Superfast model, selling for $18,000 in 1957, was called by Road and Track, “...one of the most beautiful cars in the world, with a performance which is so fantastic as to be almost beyond comprehension.”

Most of these cars were produced only in the hundreds; some models number fewer than a dozen. In 1987 a 1963 Ferrari sold for $11,000,000. The value of Ferrari’s cars to collectors virtually forced them off the road. This phenomenon was cited in Sports Illustrated: “Even the true Ferrari lover who can resist the temptation to peddle his car for a big profit dares not drive the car on the street...An automobile famous for its performance, its power, its racing victories has become too valuable to drive.”

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