History of Ferrari

Ferrari imageEnzo Ferrari was born in Modena Italy on February 18 1898. He came from a well to do family that owned a metal foundry making railroad parts, they were the first in his town to own a car. When WWI came Enzo's father and brother (Dino) were drafted into the Italian army, whom both died from influenza in 1916. Enzo was forced to leave school to run the foundry, when the business collapsed he started work as a metalworker at the Modena Fire Brigade workshop in order to support his widowed mother. Enzo himself was later drafted into the Italian army where he worked shoeing mules for the mountain artillery, after a few months he becomming seriously ill and was released from the military. Not interested in going back to shcool and against his mothers will, he found work as a test driver in Turin in late 1918. Enzo then moved to Milan to work at CMN (Costruzioni Maccaniche Nazionali) as a racing car driver. His first real race came in the 1919, the Parma-Berceto, he then entered the Targa Florio that same year.

Enzo then founded Scuderia Ferrari, (literally means Ferrari Stable) who were mainly sponsers and trainers for Alfa Romeo. He was officially hired by Alfa Romeo as head of their racing department in 1938, then in 1940, upon learning of the company's plan to take control of his beloved Scuderia, he quit Alfa. Since he was prohibited by contract from racing for several years, the Scuderia briefly became Auto Avio Costruzioni Ferrari, which ostensibly produced machine tools and aircraft accessories for Piaggio and RIV as Italy was gearing up for WWII. Ferrari did in fact produce one race car, the Tipo 815, in the non-competition period; it was thus the first actual Ferrari car, but due to the war it saw little competition.

In 1943 the Ferrari factory moved to Maranello, where it has remained ever since. The factory was bombed in 1944 due to making machines for ball bearing production, it was rebuilt in 1946 to include a works for road car production. The first Ferrari road car was the 1947 125 S, powered by a 1.5-litre V12 engine; Enzo reluctantly built and sold his automobiles to fund the Scuderia. While his beautiful and blazingly fast cars quickly gained a reputation for excellence, Enzo maintained a famous distaste for his customers, most of whom he felt were buying his cars for the prestige and not for racing. Ferrari has long been one of the ultimate toys for the rich and young (or young-at-heart). Ferrari cars feature highly-tuned small V8 and V12 engines, often in a mid-engined configuration. But until the introduction of fuel injection in the 1980s, they were quite temperamental and were dificult to maintain. Before the mid 1980s they carried a reputation for unreliability and bad engineering, though these were written off by enthusiasts as "character." Ferrari owners have famously and religiously defended the merits of their cars while virulently criticizing other brands.

The Scuderia joined the Formula One World Championship in the first year of its existence, 1950. Jose-Froilan Gonzalez gave the team its first victory at the 1951 British Grand Prix. Alberto Ascari gave Ferrari its first World Championship a year later. Ferrari is the oldest team left in the championship, not to mention the most successful: the team holds nearly every Formula One record. As of 2004, the team's records include fourteen World Drivers Championship titles (1952, 1953, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1964, 1975, 1977, 1979, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004), fourteen World Constructors Championship titles (1961, 1964, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004), 179 grand prix victories, 3445 and a half points, 544 podium finishes, 174 pole positions, 11,182 laps led, and 180 fastest laps in 1622 grands prix contested. Famous drivers include Tazio Nuvolari, Juan Manuel Fangio, Alberto Ascari, Phil Hill, Mike Hawthorn, John Surtees, Niki Lauda, Jody Scheckter, Gilles Villeneuve, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher.

The Symbol

The famous symbol of Ferrari is a black prancing horse on yellow background, usually with the letters S F for Scuderia Ferrari. The horse was originally the symbol of Count Francesco Baracca, a legendary "asso" (ace) of the Italian air force during World War I, who painted it on the side of his planes. Baracca died very young on June 19, 1918, shot down after 34 victorious duels and many team victories; he soon became a national hero. Baracca had wanted the prancing horse on his planes because his squad, the "Battaglione Aviatori", was enrolled in a Cavalry regiment (air forces were at their first years of life and had no separate administration), and also because he himself was reputed to be the best cavaliere of his team. The Scuderia Ferrari logo Coat of Arms of the City of StuttgartIt has been supposed that the choice of a horse was perhaps partly due to the fact that his noble family was known for having plenty of horses in their estates at Lugo di Romagna. Another theory suggests Baracca copied the rampant horse design from a shot down German pilot having the emblem of the city of Stuttgart on his plane. Interestingly, German sports car manufacturer Porsche, from Stuttgart, borrowed its prancing horse logo from the city's emblem. Furthermore astonishing: Stuttgart is an over the centuries modified version of Stutengarten (an ancient german word for "Gestüt", translated into english as mare garden or stud farm, into italian as "scuderia"). On June 17, 1923, Enzo Ferrari won a race at the Savio track in Ravenna, and there he met the Countess Paolina, mother of Baracca. The Countess asked that he use the horse on his cars, suggesting that it would grant him good luck, but it the first race at which Alfa would let him use the horse on Scuderia cars was eleven years later, at SPA 24 Hours in 1932. Ferrari won. Ferrari left the horse black as it had been on Baracca's plane; however, he added a yellow background because it was the symbolic color of his birthplace, Modena. The prancing horse has not always identified the Ferrari brand only: Fabio Taglioni used it on his Ducati motorbikes. Taglioni's father was in fact a companion of Baracca's and fought with him in the 91st Air Squad, but as Ferrari's fame grew, Ducati abandoned the horse; this may have been the result of a private agreement between the two brands. The prancing horse is now a trademark of Ferrari.

As of 2004, FIAT owns 56% of Ferrari, Mediobanca owns 15%, Commerzbank AG owns 10%, Lehman Brothers owns 7%, and Enzo's son Piero Ferrari owns 10%.

Enzo Ferrari was given the Italian award of Cavaliere for sporting mertit in 1924 and went on to receive further honours from the nation: Commendatore in 1927, Cavaliere del Lavoro in 1952. In 1960 he received an honorary degree in mechanical engineering from Bologna University. In 1988 Modena University gave him in Physics. He was awared the Hammerskjold Prize by the UN in 1962, the Columbus Prize in 1965, the Gold Medal from the Italian school of Art and Culture in 1970, the De Gasperi Award in 1987.

Under his leadership (1947-88) Ferrari won over 5000 races all over the world and earned 25 world titles. The most important achievements have been 9 Formula 1 Drivers' World titles, 8 Formula 1 Constructors' World Championships, 14 Manufactures' World titles, 9 wins at Le Mans 24 Hours race, 8 at the Mille Miglia, 7 at the Targa Florio.

Enzo Ferrari died in Modena on August 14 1988.

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