Company founder Enzo Ferrari was born on 18 February 1898 in the small town of Modena, Italy to a metal fabricator called Alfredo and grew up with little formal education. In 1908, at the age of 10, his father took him and his older brother Alfredo brother to the Circuit di Bologna to watch the motor racing, igniting in young Enzo a powerful and enduring passion for race car driving. In 1914, Enzo started working as a teacher at the Lathe Operator School in Modena. During World War I, both his father and brother died in 1916 from disease. After fighting in the war in the Third Alpine Regiment, at the end of 1918, Enzo applied for a job with Fiat, but was turned down. Instead, after taking a series of menial jobs, he became a delivery driver and test driver for Lancia. In 1919, Enzo joined a company called Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazionali in Milan, first as a test driver and then as a racing driver.
Enzo Ferrari was not initially interested in the idea of producing road cars himself when he formed the company Scuderia Ferrari in 1929 based in Modena. This company bought, prepared and fielded racing cars for gentlemen drivers, but rapidly became a technical-racing outpost of Alfa Romeo, effectively taking over its official racing department in 1933 when it withdrew its in-house racing team. Scuderia was then supplied with Alfa Romeo P3 monopostos racing cars and this saw the first use of the now legendary “prancing horse” shield derived from the emblem used by famous World War One flying ace Francesco Baracca. In 1935, Ferrari’s workshop built its first race car, the Alfa Romeo Bimotore, taking the first steps to becoming a car manufacturer. During 1937, the first examples of the Alfetta 158 were constructed in Modena under Enzo’s supervision. In 1938, Alfa Romeo brought its racing operation in-house again forming Alfa Corse in Milan with Enzo as manager of the new racing department. At the same time, Scuderia Ferrari was disbanded.
On 6 September 1939, Enzo Ferrari left Alfa Romeo under the proviso he wouldn’t use the Ferrari name in connection with motor racing for at least four years. A few days later, he founded Auto Avio Costruzioni, based in the old Modena facilities, ostensibly to produce machine tools and aircraft parts. But in 1940, Ferrari did in fact build two examples of a race car, the Auto Avio Costruzioni 815, based on a Fiat 508C platform. This was the first true Ferrari car making its debut at the Mille Miglia car race, but due to World War II, it saw very little competition.
In 1943, the Ferrari factory moved to Maranello where it has remained ever since. During the conflict, the company was forced to undertake production to assist the war effort, producing grinding machines and possibly machine gun parts. The factory was bombed twice by the Allies between 1944 and 1945, but it was quickly rebuilt. In late 1945, after the war ended, Ferrari commissioned Gioacchino Colombo to design a new V12 engine and in December 1946, Ferrari issued a press release of the specifications and design of his new car.
That V12 car became known as the Ferrari 125 Sport and won its first Mille Miglia race in 1948, followed a year later by the Le Mans 24 Hour Race and then, the Formula 1 World Championship in 1952. Enzo Ferrari only reluctantly built and sold the first of his cars, purely as a means to an end- to fund his ruinously costly racing activities. Indeed, in the early years at least, the production of all Ferrari motor cars was inextricably linked to this purpose. In this way, the hand built Ferrari models were racing cars rather than road cars as a direct result of this heritage.
Also in 1952, the company introduced the famous 212 Inter featuring a 166 MM chassis producing a higher output on the road. By 1954, the 250 GT coupe made its debut becoming one of the bestselling sports cars during the 1950’s. This was followed in 1956 by the GT Berlinetta (still in production today) regarded as one of its finest creations. A later version of this car called the “Passo Corto” is now considered to be one of the earliest so-called “muscle cars”. In 1957, the company changed its name to Auto Costruzioni Ferrari.
A serious crisis arose the same year when following a fatal racing car accident at the Mille Meglia, killing the driver, co-driver and nine spectators. Both Enzo Ferrari and Englebert, the tyre manufacturer, were personally charged with manslaughter in a lengthy prosecution not finally dismissed until 1961.
In November 1961, there was another crisis over the intruding presence of Enzo’s wife Laura at the company, resulting in what became known as the “great walkout”. As a consequence of this dispute, key personnel, including chief engineer Carlo Chiti and long-time sales manager Girolamo Gardini, were ousted from Ferrari. All were tremendous losses to the company and many thought this might be the end of Ferrari. But into this void stepped young engineer Mauro Forghieri and long-time body designer Sergio Scaglietti marking a new era for the company. They took over the unfinished and critical 250 GTO project, ultimately becoming one of the most renowned sports cars in history, being first introduced to acclaim in 1962. Indeed, this shakeup and new engineering and design talent made the 1960’s even more successful for Ferrari than the previous decade.
Even so, a merger with the Ford Motor Company was proposed, but discussions broke down. In 1964, the 330 GT 2+2 made its debut and whose styling gave a new look to the Ferrari brand. The mid-engined V6 Dino racers (named after Enzo’s late son Alfredo or ‘Dino’) laid the foundation for Forghieri’s dominant 250-powered 250 P. Dino road cars sold well and led to legendary models like the 275 and Daytona. In 1965, Ferrari released the famous GTB Competizione and the 275 GTS. Another famous vehicle line from this period was the 365 California in 1966, which is still in production. Towards the end of the 1960’s, Ferrari moved towards convertibles, introducing the renowned 65 GT S4, becoming one of the most successful sports convertibles at that time. Nonetheless, by early 1969, mounting financial pressures on the company forced Ferrari to sell a 50% stake in his company to Fiat S.P.A., resulting in an immediate boost in investment funds. A less positive effect was on industrial relations at the Maranello plant resulting in stoppages.
By the 1970’s, Ferrari was facing stiff competition with Porsche and Alfa Romeo. In 1973, Ferrari retired from sports car racing to focus on the F1 with great success with Niki Lauda winning the championships in 1975 and 1977. Also in 1973, the company designed a mid-engine 12-cylinder model, the Berlinetta Boxer and later, the famous Ferrari Testarossa.
Although Enzo stepped down as chairman of Ferrari in 1977, he effectively retained control of his company until he died in 1988 at the age of 90. However, days before his death, he witnessed the debut of the last model he commissioned, the famous Ferrari F40 regarded as one of the greatest cars ever created. Fiat increased its stake in Ferrari to 90% after buying the shares of its founder appointing Luca Cordera di Montezemolo president of Ferrari in 1991.
In the 1990’s, Ferrari introduced numerous successful models, including the 512 TR, 456 GT, 348 GTB, 348 GTS, 348 Spider, F355 Berlinetta, F 512M and, of course, the F50 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the company. Ferrari also made a huge comeback in Formula 1 racing with Michael Schumacher dominating the World Driver’s Championship from 2000 to 2004.
As of 2014, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles owned 90% of Ferrari (after selling and buying back part of its stake), with the remaining 10% owned by Piero Ferrari, Enzo’s second son. On 3 January 2016, FCA announced the completion of the separation of the Ferrari business from the parent company. Piero Ferrari is currently the chairman and CEO of the company.
RENT A FERRARI AT CLASSIC PARADE
We have an excellent selection of absolutely stunning Ferrari’s to rent by the day, the week or longer. Top of the range is the FERRARI 589 GTB FIORANO F1, which brings Formula 1 racing technology and performance to the road. Also available is the breathtakingly beautiful FERRARI 458 ITALIA (winner of over 30 international awards), the FERRARI CALIFORNIA, a sporty yet versatile little number and the curvaceous FERRARI F430 SPIDER F1. To rent a Ferrari, simply request a call-back through our CONTACT PAGE.
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