The quintessential luxury automobile brand begun by Enzo Ferrari as a means to realise his passion for racing turns 74 this year, not just as an icon for the automobile fanatics but as a brand that inspires millions of race fans across the globe. Through its pioneering technology and business savvy, Ferrari has turned every opportunity into a historic success and is the most profitable automobile manufacturer today.
Here’s a look at 16 facts and stories about Ferrari:
1. Enzo Ferrari
Born in Modena, Italy in 1898, the young Enzo Ferrari first encountered the grid at age 10 as a spectator at the Circuito di Bologna. His early life was mired in personal tragedy—losing his father and older brother to the flu pandemic, serving in the First World War and ending his service after suffering the flu himself.
These agonies would be left in the rear-view mirror when Ferrari began his racing career as a gentleman driver and established a legacy that would far outlive his years.
2. Rosso Corsa
The red colour adopted by Italy as the “Rosso Corsa” (“Racing Red”) in 1907 would go on to become synonymous with the Ferrari brand. The “Rosso Scuderia” is the official colour used by the team for Formula One.
The “Rosso Scuderia” was developed to perfect the “Rosso Corsa” for the television and cameras, making it brighter than the latter and a true Ferrari red during event telecasts. The difference between the two is more apparent in real life.
Apart from the two, a multitude of reds has been created for cars over the years, proving to be effective tools for branding and commemoration. Ferraris are available in every imaginable colour today but the majority of buyers still prefer the statement red of Rosso Corsa.
3. The First Ferrari and Its 2020 Rendition
In the 2020 Formula One Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello, the Scuderia Ferrari adopted the burgundy for the SF1000 livery to commemorate Ferrari’s 1000th Grand Prix. This replication of the very first F1 car bearing the Ferrari name also included the hand-painted number of the drivers in the retro style of the 1947 Ferrari 125 S.
Also called the “Tipo 125”, the car is historic in marking the beginning of the racing culture and an era of dominance across motorsport competitions across the globe.
4. The Prancing Horse
The now-famous Ferrari badge Cavallino Rampante (“prancing horse”) was first seen by Enzo Ferrari on Francesco Baracca’s bi-plane. Baracca’s mother asked Enzo to use the horse as his logo, for it was a harbinger of good luck. The Alfa Romeo cars created by Scuderia Ferrari were the first to bear this logo in 1932 in Spa.
The black colour of the figure was in a mourning memory of late Francesco Baracca, while the yellow background was chosen by Enzo to hark back to Modena, his birthplace. The red, white and green stripes incorporated into the coat of arms were inspired by the Italian flag.
5. Illustrious Racing Legacy That Began With Alfa Romeo
Scuderia Ferrari is the most successful Formula One Team, having bagged 283 wins, 16 Constructors’ titles and 15 Driver Championships over the 91 years since it was first established. Apart from the Formula Series, Ferrari has also claimed 9 victories in 24 Hours of Le Mans. This historic journey, however, had humble beginnings.
In 1929, Enzo Ferrari would head the Alfa Romeo racing divisions, opening the gates of Scuderia Ferrari in Modena to engineer the racing cars for privateers. He left Alfa Romeo and founded Auto Avio Costruzioni in 1939 and the company manufactured its first Ferrari in 1947 at its Maranello headquarters.
Through its ground-breaking engineering, Scuderia Ferrari has become the pioneer in motorsport and remains a top Formula One contender nearly a century hence.
6. Fiat and Ferrari
A young Enzo Ferrari, returning to Turin as a veteran of the First World War, had sought employment with the Italian automobile giant, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. But upon being rejected, he vowed to get his vengeance, and in 1925 when his Alfa Romeo P2 won the inaugural Automobile Championship, it was the beginning of Fiat’s motorsport decline, ultimately leading to their withdrawal from Grand Prix racing altogether in 1927.
This rivalry was put to bed most effectively when in 1969 Fiat acquired a 50% stake in Ferrari to fund the racing division which was expanded to 90% by 1988, with Enzo Ferrari owning 10. Fiat retained a 10% stake and the remaining 80% were distributed.
Many will be surprised to know that as of 2020, the majority stake of over 67% is publicly owned, while Enzo’s 10% stake has passed on to his son Piero Ferrari. The remaining control share is owned by Exor N.V., a holding company based in Netherland.
7. Private Racetrack in Maranello Backyard
The Fiorano Circuit is the private testing grounds for Ferrari, located in Fiorano Modenese, close to the company headquarters and workshops in Maranello. The 1,86-mile race track built in 1972 tests the car in all aspects, from its braking to engine performance.
It also includes Enzo Ferrari’s old home and a piazza dedicated to Michael Schumacher who won five World Drivers Championships with Ferrari. Being the only automaker to own a racetrack gives Ferrari the edge in design and a playground for innovation.
8. Seminal Driver Academy
Established in 2009 with Jules Bianchi as its first recruit, the Ferrari Driver Academy was an endeavour to hone young drivers who may in future take the seat as a driver for Scuderia Ferrari. The program has funded and produced numerous Formula One stars like Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll and Charles Leclerc. Leclerc will race for Scuderia Ferrari for the 2021 Formula One season.
The exposure and training at the prestigious academy can not only be the ticket to the grid for young drivers but also fills reserve driver and test driver seats for teams in the f1 championship.
Typically known for contracting seasoned drivers, the Driver Academy is perhaps the most effective tool in Ferrari’s arsenal to find younger drivers and their current batch is touted as the golden generations of drivers owing for the most part to their proven prowess on the lower formula grids.
9. Conquering America
Luigi Chinetti Jr., a former Ferrari race-driver and LeMans 1932 and 1934 champion, acquired exclusive rights to export Ferraris outside Europe and supply to the promising American market in the late 1940s. This would lead to Hollywood’s obsession with the Italian luxury automobiles by putting the prancing horse in the garages of America’s rich and famous.
Chinetti’s landmark contribution extends from spearheading sales of the cars to privateers to importing for the US market, the most profitable for the company even today.
10. Epic Rivalries
The Ford Motor Company was set to acquire Ferrari in 1963 and was geared to partner up for the 24 Hours of LeMans, but upon backtracking from the deal, Ferrari earned the wrath of Ford. This would lead Ford to partner with Shelby American to manufacture the GT40 that would dethrone the reigning reds in LeMans 1966, making Ford a dominant force in the world of motor racing.
On another such occasion, Enzo’s unkind words directed at a tractor mechanic lead him to manufacture his own luxury automobiles. In 1964, Ferruccio Lamborghini released his 350 GTV, and his eponymous ‘Automobili Lamborghini’ would go on to become a leading brand of luxury sports cars.
11. Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi
Opened in 2010, the Ferrari World in the Yas Island of Abu Dhabi is an 86,000sqm theme park, whose roof features the largest Ferrari logo ever created. It is a part of the $40billion Yas Complex, located adjacent to the Yas Marina Circuit where the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is hosted each year since 2009. Its stellar proportions make it the world’s largest space frame structure in the world, and the Ferrari GT inspired its unique, futuristic form.
The F1 fans can experience once-in-a-lifetime events, right from the simulator to the pit wall, whether it is getting behind the wheel or on the team radio. It also has a G-force tower which can induce the G-force experience during a race, and most thrilling of all, the Formula Rossa which is a 2.4km roller coaster that can travel at up to 150mph.
12. Alternate Popemobile
In 1978, the Pope requested to be driven from Ferrari’s Fiorano Circuit to the mass in a red Mondial Cabriolet instead of the white Popemobile. With one of the most beloved holy figures of the nation showing adulation for the Ferrari, the latter would reciprocate by presenting him with one of his own, only much rarer.
Few things are as iconic as the Ferrari Enzo, only 400 of which were ever produced, the last of which was crafted for his Holiness Pope John Paul II. The luxury car painted is in “Rosso Scuderia” red—typically limited to the Scuderia Ferrari vehicles—features bare carbon-fibre rear spoilers and rare “Daytona” inserts in the seats.
The Pope graciously accepted the gift in January 2005, encouraging Ferrari to auction the same and donate the proceeds to aid the victims of the floods in Southeast Asia, raising around $1million by June 2005.
In 2015, the car was auctioned by Sotheby’s Monterey Auction for a whopping $6million, partly justified by the rare Enzo, and partly due to its prestigious past ownership.
13. Unmatched Customizability
The Ferrari may be a top tier luxury car, both in price and features, but there is a step even further. The Ferrari Tailor-Made Program launched in 2011 gives the customer total control over every aspect of the car, adding between 10% to 100% to its cost. It is an exclusive service that goes beyond the basic customisation available; for instance, it allows the buyers to not just choose but “create” a colour, named and immortalized in the paint of their Ferrari
Think “Grigio Ingrid”, the grey shade of prominent Italian director Roberto Rosselini’s Ferrari inspired by his wife, Ingrid Bergman’s eyes.
The program has three broad themes- Scuderia, inspired by the racing car designs; Classica, modelled after the 1950s and 1960s touring cars; and Edita, the contemporary take on the Ferrari with trendy aesthetics. Besides adding to the profit margins, the Tailor Made facilities at Maranello, Shanghai and Manhattan bring a greater sense of satisfaction for customers spending six-figures on their luxury automobile.
14. Mementos in Metal
The older son of Enzo Ferrari, fondly called Dino, succumbed to a rare genetic ailment in 1956 at the age of 24. His memory was honoured by the Dino marque that graced the Formula 2 1957 Dino 156 single-seater and its new V6 engine that had been designed and developed by Dino with engineer Vittorio Jano.
In 1966, Ferrari partnered with Fiat to produce an affordable sports car, the Fiat Dino. The Ferrari Dino evolved as a sub-brand that produced some of the most highly regarded models of Ferraris. While in 1976 the Dino was retired, the cars have immortalized the promise of young Dino Ferrari and Enzo’s incredible loss.
15. The F40
One of the most highly regarded Ferraris and among the best supercars ever made, the Ferrari F40 is not only the crown jewel but also Enzo Ferrari’s ultimate passion project.
It was built in 1988, celebrating the 40th anniversary of Ferrari and almost three decades hence is still a marvel in its form and capabilities.
Commissioned by Enzo Ferrari in 1984, the 288 GTO Evoluzione concept cars were ready to race the FIA Group B rally. Upon the elimination of Group B in 1986, however, the engineers would go on to make it road-legal in the form of the Ferrari F40. It forwent all driver aids, including carpets, air-conditioning or door handles; while some rarer versions were coated with fewer layers of paint.
All this was in the name of making the body lighter and the vehicle much faster, and so it did. The Sultan of Brunei, a true automobile fanatic with over 7000 cars in his collection in 2021, is rumoured to own a fleet of 11 custom F40s- two of which are the race version F40 LMs.
16. The Ferrari Brand
The history and success of Ferrari have propelled it to its status as the most recognisable brand worldwide. While the Ferrari cars are the rage on both the grid and the road, it is not the sole source of profit behind the $4.1 billion global net revenue (FY 2020).
Of this, $1.5 billion comes from brand licensing, with the Ferrari name, badge and logo used in various products available to the throngs of passionate Ferraristas. Apparel, fragrances and cartographer watch aside, the lucrative brand even manufactures photo frames and a $320 Scuderia Ferrari keychain.
It is no surprise that the 250GT brochure was auctioned for $1552, setting a record for the world’s most expensive brochure ever auctioned.
Innovative, inspiring and ultimately iconic, Ferrari has gone from being the surname of an aspiring young driver to the industry leader in automobiles and motorsports alike. Over the years, it has come to demonstrate the ingenuity of its business model and the fruits of nurturing an ever-growing global family of Ferraristas and Tifosi.
Despite the trials and tribulation, the story of Ferrari has the overarching message of dreaming and doing.