Ferrari sports cars are items of legend, beauty, grace, and speed. These cars are sleek, fast, and incredibly well-built.
They are also seemingly rare. When you see the prancing horse logo on any car on the auction block, you expect that model to fetch a hefty price, and they often make good on that expectation. Since 2015, this brand has given us more models than ever before. Typically these models are artificially limited to protect the exclusivity of ownership. An increase to more than 9,000 cars a year doesn’t truly threaten the exclusive nature of this racing luxury brand name.
Enzo Fell in Love with Cars at an Early Age
The founder’s first name is Enzo and he served in World War I. Several years before his service in the Italian Army, Enzo saw his first car race as a ten-year-old boy. From that moment on, he was hooked. Unfortunately, once the war was over, Enzo, like many other wartime veterans, found it difficult to find work. At the time, Fiat was one of the most well-known automakers, but they didn’t have any job openings. Can you imagine where we would be with this story if they had?
Ferrari Becomes a Race Car Driver
Eventually, Enzo found work at Alfa Romeo as a race car driver. The group of drivers at Alfa was making a strong name for themselves to be some of the best in the industry. Eventually, he created Scuderia Ferrari which began in 1929 as a group of drivers who raced their own cars. By 1933, Scuderia Ferrari became the racing division of Alfa Romeo and continued to show the racing world this brand was ready to challenge many others on the track. This led to Enzo becoming the head of the Alfa Romeo factor racing operation in 1937.
A New Company is Formed
After leaving the factory operation at Alfa Romeo, Enzo started a new company called Auto Avio Costruzioni. This name was shortened for the rest of the world to AAC. This startup company built the AAC 815, which became its first car that was built and designed entirely in-house. The company only made two of the AAC 815 cars in 1940, but that was a start. Although these cars were not allowed to bear the Ferrari name because of the non-compete agreement Enzo had with Alfa Romeo, the AAC 815 was the first true Ferrari sports car.
A Signature Engine Emerges Long Before You Might Expect
The entire world felt delayed with World War II taking place, but Enzo didn’t allow that delay to last long. As soon as the war was over his company created and introduced a new V12 engine that would eventually become a signature part of the company that would bear his name. Even today, we expect to find models from this brand using a V12 engine, although, with the onset of electric vehicles, hybrid powertrains, and turbochargers, we expect it less than in previous decades.
Introducing the Ferrari 125
That’s right, this 1947 roadster was the first car to bear Enzo’s last name and become the original model from his brand. The non-compete agreement had lapsed and he was free to use his name however he desired for as long as he wanted. While the AAC 815 is truly his first car, this model helped establish the company we know today and give us a car that we loved to see and admire. Unfortunately, the brand did not have a strong foothold in the industry yet, which meant it needed to gain notice and popularity.
Luigi Chinetti Helps Grow the Brand
Until the late 1940s, all Enzo Ferrari made were racing cars and a few models for private customers that approached his company. Luigi Chinetti convinced Enzo to build cars for the public. He did so by winning several races in the Ferrari models around the world. In the early 1950s, Chinetti opened the first Ferrari dealership in the United States in Manhattan. Later, he relocated this dealership to Connecticut, but the start of public customers driving models from this brand was away and Chinetti was the first to give us the prancing horse label on the front of sports cars.
The United States is the Most Lucrative Market for the Brand
Chinetti opened the floodgates and they have never closed. The US market is the most lucrative for the Ferrari brand, which helped to inspire some of the most legendary models including the California Spider, GTO, and Testa Rossa. This boutique racing brand was growing and selling more cars to Americans than they ever thought possible. Even though sales were strong, Enzo was careful to ensure a limited number of each model was offered to maintain the exclusivity of the brand name.
Racing Was Too Important for a Deal with Ford
The 1960s was a legendary decade for Ferrari and Ford. This was the decade in which Enzo backed out of a deal with the Detroit auto giant because he didn’t want to give up the racing part of his business. Ford wanted all of it and wouldn’t pay for only the commercial sales portion of the brand. This led to some legendary racing at Le Mans between these two brands. In fact, that racing was so legendary that movies have been made just talking about the racing and the characters involved, including Enzo and Henry Ford II.
Enzo Sells Half to Fiat
That’s right, in 1969, Enzo Ferrari sold half of his company to the company that refused to give him a job after World War I. Additional resources were needed for the company to survive and this was one way to keep the Americans out of his business. After being embarrassed on the track by Ford, there was no way Enzo would have done a deal with an American company. Today, we see various supercars and hypercars coming from the prancing horse brand that Enzo built out of a love for racing and time on the track.
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