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ItalianCar | April 25, 2024

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Ferrari – Essentials

Key Facts

Date founded 1947
Derivation of name name of founder
Name meaning
Where founded Maranello (near Modena)
Name of founder(s) Enzo Ferrari
First car name 125
First car date 1947
First car top speed/power – / 72bhp

Brief History of Marque

The early part of the company’s history is inextricably linked to its founder, Enzo Ferrari, who remained a huge influence until his death in 1988. The following part of the company’s history, however, bears the stamp of Luca di Montezemolo who arrived at the end of 1991. Taking Enzo Ferrari’s principles of innovation and courage as his starting point, Montezemolo proved himself the man to take Ferrari to previously undreamt of and apparently unattainable heights of success.

Success came almost at once with stunning victories in the Le Mans 24 Hours Race of 1949 and the Formula 1 World Championships of 1952 and 1953. The huge leap in demand for the Prancing Horse’s GT road cars, as a result of the brand’s growing international prestige, led Enzo Ferrari to start the cooperation with Fiat.

Enzo Ferrari was born in Modena on February 18, 1898, and he died on August 14, 1988, at the age of ninety. In 1929 he founded the Scuderia Ferrari, in viale Trento Trieste in Modena, to help his partners compete in motor racing. The Scudreria raced Alfa Romeos until 1938, the year in which Enzo Ferrari became racing manager of Alfa Corse. In September 1939, however, he split from Alfa Romeo and founded Auto Avio Costruzioni Ferrari, in the old Scuderia Ferrari headquarters. While the new business did some work for the Compagnia Nazionale Aeronautica di Roma, Piaggio and Riv, it mostly manufactured machine tools, specifically oleo dynamic grinding machines.

In spite of agreeing to a non-competition clause which prevented him from building cars under his name for a period of four years after the split from Alfa, Ferrari soon began work on two racing cars, an 8-cylinder 1500 cc spider known as the 815 which went on to take part in the 1940 Mille Miglia.

The outbreak of World War II brought all motorracing to a halt and in 1943 the workshops moved from Modena to Maranello, where it continued manufacturing oleo dynamic grinding machines despite the fact that the premises were bombed in November 1944 and again in February 1945.

At the end of the war work began on designing and building the very first Ferrari – the 125 Sport, a 1500 cc 12-cylinder car which Franco Cortese debuted on the Piacenza Circuit on May 11, 1947 and two weeks later drove to victory in the Rome Grand Prix.

Since then, the Prancing Horse Cars have racked up over 5,000 successes in track and road races all over the world, creating the legend that is Ferrari today.

In order to cope with growing market demand, Enzo Ferrari sold 50% of his share capital to the Fiat Group in 1969, an investment that increased to 90% in 1988. In 2006, Fiat retained an 85% its interest in Ferrari S.p.A., Mubadala Development Company, the Abu Dhabi investment fund, maintained a 5% stake, and Piero Ferrari holds 10%. In spite of this, however, Ferrari has always remained resolutely independent, thanks to a highly specialised output.

In 1977, the Carrozzeria Scaglietti, the famous Modena coachworks which had created Ferrari’s GT chassis’- and bodies since the 50s, joined Ferrari. In 1977 Fiat gave Ferrari a 50% share in Maserati, which had it acquired in 1993. In 1999, Ferrari took over 100% of Maserati.

Maserati, the historic Modenese sports car manufacturer, long a symbol of excellence and elegance, and one of the Italian car racing scene, was Ferrari’s oldest rival on the track. Its relaunch was carried out under Prancing Horse management, with both the Maserati model range and factory complex undergoing a complete overhaul. With the relaunch complete, Maserati returned to being under the direct control of Fiat in April 2005.

By the end of 2006, Ferrari’s count of championship titles reads as follows: 14 F1 Drivers’ World titles, 14 F1 Constructors’ World Championships, 14 Manufacturers’ World titles, nine wins at the Le Mans 24 hours, eight at the Mille Miglia, seven at the Targa Florio, and no fewer than 192 F1 Grand Prix victories.

The legendary Prancing Horse symbol used by Ferrari has heroic origins. A highly decorated Italian World War I pilot, Francesco Baracca, first adopted it as a personal emblem, painting it on the fuselage of his aircraft.

At the end of the war, Baracca’s parents entrusted the Prancing Horse symbol to Enzo Ferrari, who put it on a yellow shield (the colour of Modena) and used it as the symbol of his racing team.

The legendary Ferrari red was initially simply the colour assigned to Italian cars competing in Grand Prix races by the International Automobile Federation in the early years of the century.

(courtesy Ateco Automotive – Ferrari importers for Australia and New Zealand Jan 2007)