Enzo Ferrari

From New World Encyclopedia

Enzo Anselmo Ferrari (February 18, 1898 - August 14, 1988) was the founder of the Scuderia Ferrari Grand Prix motor racing team, and subsequently of the Ferrari car manufacturer. Ferrari's reputation on the track has translated into popularity on the road as one of the most prestigious luxury sports cars. In addition to its speed, the Ferrari automobile is associated with panache and style, possibly derived from Ferrari's own success on the race course. The Ferrari is an example of how technology developed in the relatively elite arena of formula one racing has been transferred to benefit a wider community by its application to the design and construction of on the road cars, even if comparatively few people can afford to own a Ferrari. Many more derive pleasure from their performance on the race track.

The Ferrari brand could inspire others who have developed elite technologies to consider how they can apply their advantages to benefit a wider, more popular market. Ferrari himself is said to have had a disdain for the "common customer", who he thought bought his cars "as showpieces rather than race-engineered masterpieces" yet "realized that a line of street-legal cars was essential to the company's ultimate survival".[1]



Born in Modena, Enzo Ferrari grew up with little formal education but a strong desire to race cars. During World War I he was a mule-skinner in the Italian Army. His father, Alfredo, died in 1916 as a result of a widespread Italian flu outbreak. Enzo became sick himself and was consequently discharged from Italian service. Upon returning home he found that the family firm had collapsed. Having no other job prospects he sought unsuccessfully to find work at Fiat and eventually settled for a job at a smaller car company called CMN redesigning used truck bodies into small, passenger cars.

Racing Career

He took up racing in 1919 on the CMN team, but had little initial success. He left CMN in 1920 to work at Alfa Romeo and racing their cars in local races he had more success. In 1923, racing in Ravenna, he acquired the Prancing Horse badge which decorated the fuselage of Francesco Baracca's (Italy's leading ace of WWI) SPAD fighter, given from his mother, taken from the wreckage of the plane after his mysterious death. This icon would have to wait until 1932 to be plastered on a racing car. In 1924, he won the Coppa Acerbo at Pescara. His successes in local races encouraged Alfa to offer him a chance of much more prestigious competition and he was lauded by Mussolini. Ferrari turned this opportunity down and in something of a funk he did not race again until 1927 and even then his racing career was mostly over. He continued to work directly for Alfa Romeo until 1929 before starting Scuderia Ferrari as the racing team for Alfa.

Ferrari managed the development of the factory Alfa cars, and built up a team of over forty drivers, including Giuseppe Campari and Tazio Nuvolari. Ferrari himself continued racing until the birth of his first son in 1932 (Alfredo Ferrari, known as Dino, who died in 1956).

The support of Alfa Romeo lasted until 1933 when financial constraints made Alfa withdraw. Only at the intervention of Pirelli did Ferrari receive any cars at all. Despite the quality of the Scuderia drivers the company won few victories (1935 in Germany by Nuvolari was a notable exception). Auto Union and Mercedes dominated the era.

In 1937, Alfa took control of its racing efforts again, reducing Ferrari to Director of Sports under Alfa's engineering director. Ferrari soon left, but a contract clause restricted him from racing or designing for four years.

He set up Auto-Avio Costruzioni, a company supplying parts to other racing teams. But in the Mille Miglia of 1940 the company manufactured two cars to compete, driven by Alberto Ascari and Lotario Rangoni. During World War II his firm was involved in war production and following bombing relocated from Modena to Maranello.

Founded Ferrari S.p.A

After World War II that Ferrari sought to shed his fascist reputation and make cars bearing his name, founding today's Ferrari S.p. A. in 1945.

The first open-wheeled race was in Turin in 1948 and the first victory came later in the year in Lago di Garda. Ferrari participated in the Formula 1 World Championship since its introduction in 1950 but the first victory was not until the British Grand Prix of 1951. The first championship came in 1952-1953, when the Formula One season was raced with Formula Two cars. The company also sold production sports cars in order to finance the racing endeavours not only in Grand Prix but also in events such as the Mille Miglia and Le Mans. Indeed many of the firm's greatest victories came at Le Mans (14 victories, including six in a row 1960-1965) rather than in Grand Prix, certainly the company was more involved there than in Formula One during the 1950s and 1960s despite the successes of Juan-Manuel Fangio (1956), Mike Hawthorn (1958), Phil Hill (1961), and John Surtees (1964).

In the 1960s, the problems of reduced demand and inadequate financing forced Ferrari to allow Fiat to take a stake in the company. Ferrari had offered Ford the opportunity to buy the firm in 1963 for US$18 million but, late in negotiations, Ferrari withdrew. This decision triggered the Ford Motor Company's decision to launch a serious European sports car racing program. The company became joint-stock and Fiat took a small share in 1965 and then in 1969 they increased their holding to 50% of the company. (In 1988 Fiat's holding was increased to 90%).

Ferrari remained managing director until 1971. Despite stepping down he remained an influence over the firm until his death. The input of Fiat took some time to have effect. It was not until 1975 with Niki Lauda that the firm won any championships — the skill of the driver and the ability of the engine overcoming the deficiencies of the chassis and aerodynamics. But after those successes and the promise of Jody Scheckter title in 1979, the company's Formula One championship hopes fell into the doldrums. The year, 1982, opened with a strong car, the 126C2, world-class drivers, and promising results in the early races.

However, Gilles Villeneuve was killed in the 126C2 in May, and teammate Didier Pironi had his career cut short in a violent end over end flip on the misty backstraight at Hockenheim in August. Pironi was leading the driver's championship at the time; he would lose the lead as he sat out the remaining races. The team would not see championship glory again during Ferrari's lifetime.

Enzo Ferrari died in Modena in 1988 at the age of 90 at the beginning of the dominance of the McLaren Honda combination. The only race which McLaren did not win in 1988 was the Italian Grand Prix—this was held just weeks after Enzo's death, and, fittingly, the result was a 1-2 finish for Ferrari, with Gerhard Berger leading home Michele Alboreto. After Enzo's death, the Scuderia Ferrari team has had further success, notably with Michael Schumacher from 1996-2006. In the early 2000s Ferrari again dominated Formula One, with driver and constrtuctor victories in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004

Ferrari witnessed the launch of the one of the greatest road cars the Ferrari F40 shortly before his death, which was dedicated as a symbol of his achievements. In 2004, the first car to be named after him was launched in the Enzo Ferrari to mark 60 years of the company. Ferrari's "Fecurrent stable of cars includes the mid-engined F430, the grand touring 612 and the limited edition GT Superamerica".[2].


Made a Cavaliere del Lavoro in 1952, to add to his honors of Cavaliere and Commendatore in the 1920s, Enzo also received a number of honorary degrees, the Hammarskjöld Prize in 1962, the Columbus Prize in 1965, and the De Gasperi Award in 1987. In 1994, he was posthumously inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. Enzo famously used purple ink in his fountain pen, although the reason for this remains unclear.

After the death of his son, Alfredo "Dino" Ferrari, Enzo wore sunglasses just about every day to honor his son.


Ferrari's legacy lives on in the name of his car, and in its reputation. Among consumer sports car, the Ferrari has the reputation for speed, style, and status enjoyed by Rolls Royce in the luxury car market, including something of the latter's renown for reliability.


  1. Jonathan Fairbanks, "Vintage Ferrari", Vintage Ferrari, Artfact.com.
  2. Ibid

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Yates, Brock W. Enzo Ferrari: the man, the cars, the races, the machine. New York: Doubleday, 1991. ISBN 978-0385263191
  • Ferrari, Enzo. The Enzo Ferrari Memoirs: My Terrible Joys. With a Foreward by Stirling Moss. London: H. Hamilton, 1963.
  • Schleifer, Jay. Ferrari: red hot legend. Cool classics. New York: Crestwood House, 1992. ISBN 978-0896867000
  • Ferrari, Enzo. Piloti, che gente. Bologna, Italy: Conti Editore, 1987.
  • Laban, Brian. The ultimate history of Ferrari. Bath: Parragon, 2002. ISBN 978-0752588735

External links

All links retrieved February 13, 2024.


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