That was the year when Alfa Romeo, a car-manufacturing company since the start of the century, decided to engage in racing activity under its own name and created the Alfa Corse factory racing team. The new team’s arrival reshuffled the cards, for until that point, Scuderia Ferrari had acted as Alfa’s official factory team on racetracks. When Enzo Ferrari was offered the position of sporting director for the new team, he refused, slamming the door on the Milanese manufacturer that had employed him following his career as a motor-racing driver in the 1920s.

Ferrari Young Enzo Ferrari. Image via grandprixhistory.com

Enzo Ferrari went off to set up his own company, Auto Avio Costruzioni, near his natal town of Modena. Joined by former mechanics for Fiat and Alfa Romeo, Ferrari constructed not only mechanical parts for planes and automobiles, but also a new racing car: the AAC815, the model that purists consider to be the first Ferrari in the car make’s history. Presented at the Mille Miglia 1940 race in Brescia, it would however fail to live up to the sporting expectations of its manufacturer, forced to cast aside his dreams of speed and grandeur in order to participate in fascist Italy’s war effort by producing machine-tools in his workshops.

Ferrari Ferrari AAC815. Image via motor-car.net

Revenge

But just as he managed to pick himself up after World War I by finding work as a warehouse worker in a company that recycled disused military vehicles – an experience that played a decisive role in his career as a driver and car manufacturer –, Enzo Ferrari didn’t let World War II get the better of him either. In 1947, he set up the automobile-manufacturing company Ferrari, based in Maranello, 20 kilometres south of Modena, where he had moved his factory five years earlier. There, driven by a desire to take revenge on Alfa Romeo, he designed and manufactured his second racing car, the Ferrari 125 S, a racing vehicle with a 1.5-litre V12 engine. The new car would take out the Grand Prix of Rome in the same year, while also winning renown for the tough visionary hence nicknamed Il Commendatore.

Ferrari Ferrari 125 S. Image via mDiecast.com

The 125 S bore the distinctive Ferrari badge with a black horse against a yellow background (Cavalino rampante), originally painted on the cabin of the fighter plane flown by Francesco Baracca, an Italian hero from the Great War. It would win victory after victory on roads and racetracks, as did the 159 S and 166 S that followed it. The latter model would also pave the way for the construction of passenger vehicles.

Formula 1

When, in 1950, the Formula 1 world championship was established, the Ferrari team was naturally at the starting line. Initially, it had to endure the domination of the “Alfettas” before distinguishing itself on every track in the next two seasons. Following Alfa Romeo’s withdrawal from the competition, Ferrari came up against other serious rivals on the racetrack, namely Maserati, Mercedes, Ford, McLaren and Porsche.

Ferrari Alberto Ascari seen at speed in his Ferrari during the 1953 Formula 1. Image via autobild

However, having won around fifteen F1 world championships, and with drivers as legendary as Fangio, Prost, Lauda, Villeneuve and “the Red Baron” Schumacher, the brand has written, and continues to write some of the most beautiful chapters in this field.

On the personal front, in 1956 Enzo Ferrari lost his son Dino, aged 24 at the time. This death would have a lasting impact on him, even if the production of the V6 engine, designed by his young engineer son, prevented the father from giving up all his professional activities.

Ferrari “The Red Baron” Schumacher. Image via f1i.com

The passenger-vehicle market

While its priority was competition vehicles rather than the industrial construction of passenger vehicles, Ferrari’s firm – which became a public company in 1960 – turned firmly towards this market in the following decade, with the aim of continuing to finance races and rallies which were increasingly popular – but also increasingly expensive. This led to the launch of the 250 GTE, a model that offered the comfort of a family car and the sensations of a sports car. With 900 vehicles produced, it is deemed to be the first series-produced Ferrari.

Ferrari Ferrari 250 GTE. Image via theclassiccartrust.com

The GTO version, of which only 39 were produced, from 1962 to 1963, remains the manufacturer’s most emblematic model – and also its most expensive one, priced at over 52 million dollars!

Ferrari Ferrari GTO. Image via carstyling.ru

The world’s most beautiful “woman”

Passionate about mechanics and motorisation, Il Commendatore, who would say that “aerodynamics were for people who didn’t know how to make engines”, was less interested in bodywork, and entrusted the dressing up of his race cars to talented collaborators like Gian-Battista “Pinin” Farina. Himself a former race-car driver, Farina became Ferrari’s car-body designer in 1952, and the family business he started still collaborates with the brand represented by the Cavalino rampante. The company PininFarina, listed on the Milan stock exchange since 1986, produced the car bodies for the last two models to be designed by Enzo before his death in 1988: the celebrated Testarossa, produced until 1996, and the F40, launched in 1987. To describe their collaboration, Battista would explain that Ferrari looked to recreate the world’s most beautiful women in his cars, while his role was to design tailor-made clothing for them.

Ferrari Ferrari F40, body designed by Pinin. Image via Hypebeast

Driving on

After its founder’s death, Ferrari, taken over by Fiat and Agnelli since 1969, came across serious difficulties in the 1990s, selling only 2,289 vehicles in 1993, as opposed to double this figure just two years previously. Appointed as head of the company in 2004, Luca di Montezemolo, Enzo Ferrari’s former assistant, has succeeded in bringing things back up to speed thanks to an innovative industrial and commercial policy, and an initial public offering. Sales have taken off, namely thanks to the new Asian markets, and reached new records: 8,398 in 2017, raising a turnover of 3.3 billion euros.

blog.php-53 Enzo Ferrari. Image via Classic Driver

And so the dream of one of the world’s best-known prestige-car manufacturers can continue to drive on.

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