Ferrari History

Ferrari History

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Enzo Ferrari was born in Modena, Italy on February 18, 1898. Ferrari came from a wealthy family that owned a metal factory producing railroad parts. His family was the first in town to own a car and when Enzo was 10 years old his father took him to his first automobile race in Bologna. After many more auto races Enzo was inspired to become a race car driver himself.

Enzo Ferrari took up racing first as a test driver in Turin in late 1918. From there he moved to Milan to work at Costruzioni Maccaniche Nazionali (CMN) as a legitimate race car driver. His first real race was the Parma-Berceto in 1919, followed by the Targa Florio where he finished ninth. Ferrari’s placement helped land him a job at Alfa Romeo, driving a production car in the 1920 Targa Florio race where he finished second.

The Ferrari Marque

In 1923, Enzo Ferrari was in the midst of building his reputation as a race car driver. While at the Circuit of Sivocci at Ravenna Ferrari was called on by the Count Enrico and Countess Paolina Baracca, Italian parents of a valorous World War I pilot named Francesco Baracca. Francesco Baracca was considered a great Italian hero who died for his country in battle. The Count and Countess Baracca presented Enzo Ferrari with their son’s squadron badge at that circuit race, it was a prancing horse on a yellow shield. Thus, Enzo Ferrari had his marque.

Enzo Ferrari raced for Alfa Romeo for a lot of years, racing was his focus not building his own cars and in 1938 Enzo was promoted to head of the Alfa Romeo racing department. With the intention of organizing a racing culture, Enzo founded Scuderia Ferrari which translates into Ferrari Stable.  The Ferrari team was pretty stable, they competed in 22 races, won 8 victories and a number of top placings. In 1940 Enzo Ferrari learned that Alfa Romeo planned to take over his Scuderia department and quit the company. Enzo Ferarri took Scuderia and built his own company under the alias name Auto-Avio Construzioni Ferrari. As Italy geared up for World War II, Enzo’s factory was converted to produce machine tools and aircraft accessories to help the war effort. During the war the Ferrari factory was bombed to the ground and had to be rebuilt in 1946. In his new factory, Enzo Ferrari built his first Ferrari motorcar, the 125 Sport. Powered by a 1.5 Litre, V12 engine, the 125 Sport began the great tradition of Ferrari racing, winning it’s first race in 1947. To fund Scuderia and Ferrari racing, the company began to sell cars publicly to Enzo’s disdain.

The Great Walkout

Enzo Ferrari’s strong personality was in the beginning an asset for his company and racing team. However, in November of 1961, internal tensions reached a new high. Long-time sales manager, Girolamo Gardini, could no longer tolerate Enzo’s wife, Laura’s involvement in the company. The two fought constantly and, so, Gardini made his ultimatum known to Enzo, threatening to leave the company.

Enzo dealt with the situation harshly and taking his wife’s side, he fired Gardini. In addition he fired Gardini loyalists, Scuderia Ferrari manager Romolo Tavoni, chief engineer Carlo Chiti, experimental sports car development chief, Giotto Bizzarrini, and a number of others.  All these people had been really essential assets to Ferrari and in their absence many people thought Ferrari would subside with their departure.  Gardini and the other ex-employees formed a new company, to directly compete with Ferrari, they also took with them Scuderia Serenissima, one of Ferrari’s biggest racing customers. The “great walkout” of 1961 came at a rough time for Enzo Ferrari. Ferrari’s old chief engineer Carlo Chiti, had been developing a new 250-based model to out-race the new Jaguar E-Type. When Chiti was fired the 250 GTO had no handling and an unfinished chassis. Even if the 250 car could be successfully finished, Ferrari manager Romolo Tavoni had taken all the seasoned race car drivers when he left.

Into the gole at Ferrari stepped a young engineer named Mauro Forghieri and long-time racing bodyman, Sergio Scaglietti. Forghieri finished the 250 GTO’s handling and Scaglietti finished the new body design. Race car driver Phil Hill took the 250 GTO to Sebring and finished first in class. The Ferrari GTO won through 1962 killing the Jaguar and becoming one of the most famous cars in history. Plus, of course, restoring company stability within Scuderia Ferrari.

In 1969 Enzo Ferrari sold 50% of Ferrari to the Fiat group. Fiat S.p.A. is the acronym for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino based in Northern Italy.  Fiat is an automobile manufacturer, engine manufacturer, financial and industrial group that was established in 1899 by a group of wealthy investors and automobile aficionados.

In 1988, Enzo Ferrari died at the age of 90 and the Fiat Group took over 90% of the Scuderia Ferrari company. When Enzo Ferrari died, Ferrari didn’t. By this time the exotic brand was legendary, the value of used Ferrari’s actually went up and sales of new models increased.

Ferrari Today

Today, a luxury Ferrari is the rich man’s ultimate play thing, for upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars Ferrari is a status symbol. For now Ferrari is under majority control by the Fiat Group, who as of 2004 owns 56%.  The rest of Ferrari is divided up, Mediobanca owns 15%, Commerzbank owns 10%, Lehman Brothers owns 7%, and Enzo’s adopted son Piero Ferrari owns 10%.