Enzo Ferrari – The Man Behind FerrariPosted On: April 15, 2012 By : AutoLife Team
In 1908, a father took his son to see a race in Bologna. The son was smitten with the great sport of racing and one day dreamt of becoming a racecar driver. And so began the story of a legend that defined the world of Grand Prix Motor Racing, by founding the marquee that built some of the finest super cars the world has ever seen – Ferrari. Born on February 18, 1898 in Modena Italy, Enzo Anselmo Ferrari was considered by many people to be a difficult man to deal with, as all ingenious men tend to be. But his passion for racing and dedication to his company was never questioned.
Enzo started worked as a blacksmith and a mule-shoer for the Italian army, but after being discharged from the army, Enzo had to look for another job. After a rejection from Fiat, he settled for a job in a small car company called CMN (Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazionali) where he redesigned used truck bodies into small passenger cars and worked as a test-driver. However, he left CMN in 1920 to pursue his dream of becoming a car racer and debuted for Alpha Romeo factory team in local races where he won a third of his 47 races. In 1927, Enzo Ferrari was then conferred the title of “Commendatore” (Knight Commander) by the King of Italy Vittorio Emmanuel III, in recognition of his services to the nation in the area of racing. His passion then changed from racing cars to building them.
1929 marked the birth of ‘Scuderia Ferrari’. Enzo Ferrari established it as the racing division for Alfa Romeo. It was the largest team ever put together by one individual and caused a sensation. But Alfa Romeo would up the division by the end of 1938. Enzo then resigned from Alfa Romeo in 1939, and was released under the condition that he did not use the Ferrari name in racing for at least four years. Then, beating Alfa Romeo in one of his own cars became his new passion and he founded Auto-Avio Costruzioni Ferrari that supplied parts to other racing teams. Enzo did manage to manufacture two cars for the 1940 Mille Miglia, but the company still failed to shine. He then relocated his company from Modena to Maranello, where the current company Ferrari remains to this day. In 1947, Enzo finally made cars bearing his name, and founded today’s Ferrari S.p.A. Initially he was never interested in selling road cars but reluctantly built his first and sold those to fund Scuderia Ferrari.The launch of the V12 equipped Ferrari ‘125 Sport’ marked the company’s birth towards becoming one of the leading super car manufacturers of the world. The 125S was a winner at many major sports car events including Le Mans, the Mille Miglia and F1. The V12 configuration as dreamt of by Enzo went on to become the basis of engine architecture for most Ferraris.
But Enzo was not a popular candidate for human of the year, infamous for being prickly and tyrannical. Ferrari’s drivers were often against his ways of work. A man always willing to push himself to the limit, he expected and encouraged his drivers do the same. During the late 1950s and 1960s, seven Ferrari drivers were killed driving Ferrari racecars, and none of them lost their lives due to mechanical failure. Once on hearing of the death of one of his drivers, Eugenio Castellotti, Enzo is said to have replied: “And the car?” Maybe it was his undivided dedication to his brainchild, the Ferrari, but he often came out to look like a soulless human being. But there were times when he edged out of his hard outer shell. The death of F1 driver Gilles Villeneuve in the1982 Belgian GP qualifier left Enzo distraught to the point where he kept a photograph of the lion-hearted racer on his mantelpiece until his death. Enzo was also known to be a superstitious man, as he rarely came to see the races where his cars were participating.
Then in 1969, Enzo gave the Fiat Group a 50% stake in the company share, realizing that he needed a powerful partner for the company to grow and develop. He continued to serve the company and the racing team through the following decades and remained an influence over the firm until his death. The last Ferrari car produced under his management was the iconic F40s. Produced from 1987 to 1992 it was the fastest, most powerful and most expensive car available at that time. Till today it’s arguably one of the most famous supercars ever made. No wonder most of those replica sports cars we played during our childhood looked like the F40.
The sad demise of Enzo Ferrari occurred in August 14, 1988 at the age of 90. But his death wasn’t made public until two days later, as by Enzo’s request, to compensate the two-day late registration of his birth. To add to his honours of Cavaliere and Commendatore in the early days, Enzo had also received a number of honorary degrees, the Hammarskjöld Prize in 1962, the Columbus Prize in 1965, and the De Gasperi Award in 1987. He was also posthumously inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. In 2002, as a tribute to the man behind Ferrari, the company named the 12 cylinder mid-engine berlinetta after him. With only 400 units produced from 2002 to 2004, the ‘Enzo Ferrari’ sportscar nearly cost a million dollars and was the fastest model at that time. It was a good way to commemorate the glorious life of Enzo Ferrari as a symbol of his achievements.
Enzo Ferrari was not only an ace Italian race car driver but a successful entrepreneur; the founder of the Scuderia Ferrari Grand Prix motor racing team and subsequently of the Ferrari car manufacturer. He though spent a reserved life, and rarely granted interviews. Here’s a line from one of those few interviews of the man behind Ferrari:
Of all the race cars you have built, Mr. Ferrari, which is your favourite?
“The car I have not yet created.
“What has been your greatest victory?”
The one I have not yet achieved.”