The Italian Almanac

Enzo Ferrari

Enzo Ferrari

Enzo Ferrari was born on February 18, 1898 in Modena, Italy. His father, Alfredo Ferrari had a metal business. At the age of 10 Ferrari saw several car races in the 1908 Circuit di Bologna, and he decided to become a race car driver. He received little formal education, and in his youth during WWI he was shoeing mules. Both his father and brother died in 1916 and the family business collapsed.

In 1918 Ferrari barely survived the world-wide flu epidemic, and was discharged. He applied for a job at Fiat, was turned down, and eventually got a job as a test driver at a small car-maker named CMN. In a 1919 race at the Targa Florio he finished 9th. With the help of his friend Ugo Sivocci he got a job with Alfa Romeo in 1920, and made more success as a racing driver. In 1923 he won at the Circuit of Sivocci at Ravenna. There he met the legendary ace pilot Francesco Baracca who presented the young Ferrari with his son's WWI pilot badge. It was the Prancing Horse on a yellow shield.

Ferrari's greatest victory was winning the 1924 Coppa Acerbo at Pescara, with an Alfa Romeo R.L. That and many more successful races made Ferrari a recognized name. In 1925 Mussolini seized the government and established a totalitarian fascist regime, that sponsored an aggressive nationalism as a mimic of the Roman Empire. The name of a winning driver like Ferrari, was used as one of many propaganda tools. He was awarded the Cavaliere dell'ordine della Corona d' Italia and was promoted to the rank of Commendatore. In Mussolini's eyes Ferrari had won all his races for Italy. In reality it was the only job Ferrari could do.

Overburdened and stressed, Ferrari experienced an emotional breakdown in 1926 and stopped racing. He turned down a few offers, including his refusal from a big race in Mussolini's presence. He switched to fixing cars for Alfa, but his racing career was mostly over. Though he did race in 1927 and after with smaller results. In 1929 he started his Scudera Ferrari, a team of racing drivers and technical assistants, working for Alfa. Ferrari soon made similar deals with Bosch, Pirelli, and Shell. His team caused a sensation after 8 victories in 22 competitions. With up to 50 full and part-time drivers it was the largest team ever gathered by one man.

Ferrari's talent of a team organizer and director superseded that of a racer. He completely retired from racing in 1932, when his first son Dino was born. In 1937 he quit Alfa under agreement that he could not race or design anything under his name for 4 years. His company was supplying auto parts during WWII, when bombing forced him to relocate the shop from Modena to Maranello. After WWII Ferrari was able to shed his fascist-tainted reputation. He concentrated all efforts on the design of the first car that would carry his name.

In 1946 Ferrari Tipo125, a 1.5 liter car was built in collaboration with his old friend G. Colombo. Tipo125 entered the 1947 Grand Prix of Monaco. Ferrari participated in the first F-1 World Championship in 1950. He won the 1951 F-1 British Grand Prix and dominated the World Championships in the early 50's. He also had a business victory when Lancia withdrew, and it's parent company Fiat turned over all Lancia's cars to Ferrari. His F-1 successes in 1956, 1958, 1961 and 1964 were paralleled by even more victories at the Mille Miglia and Le Mans. The total of 14 victories at Le Mans included 6 in a row in 1960-1965.

The post-war boom of the 50s ended for Ferrari in 1956, when his son Dino died of muscular dystrophy, causing the end of his marriage. Ferrari was depressed and, having not many friends, moved into a small apartment at his factory. There he lived and worked 24/7 without a vacation for many years. He wore sunglasses as a ritual to honor his son. His management skills and attention to details helped the business through the decline in the 60s. In 1963 he rejected the $18 million offer for his company from Ford. In 1965 he allowed Fiat to have a small stake in Ferrari, with the increase of their holding to 50% in 1969, and to 90% in 1988. Ferrari remained managing director until 1971, and was influential until his death at the age of 90 on August 14, 1988 in Modena, Italy.

The Scuderia Ferrari team won several F-1 championships with race driver Michael Schumacher between 1999-2004. The name of the company's founder was given to the 2003-2004 production model. It was built with F-1 technology: carbon-fiber body, F-1 sequential shift transmission, and carbon-ceramic brake discs. The Enzo Ferrari is the first model to have the new V12 power-plant, that makes it the fastest street-legal race car Ferrari has ever produced. It shares the base platform with it's twin, the Maserati MC12, which is both a street car and a GT racing car. Only 399 Enzo Ferraris were built and sold to subscribers.

the Enzo Ferrari 2003/4 sport car