As a former race car driver, I have owned and driven a variety of impressive and unique racing cars. The most notable to me include various Ferrari race cars that participated in the Ferrari Corse Clienti Programme. One of my most prized possessions is a Ferrari Formula One race car. I am a student of Ferrari’s history, an admirer of the carmaker’s accomplishments, and I applaud what they have done for the sport of racing.
Ferrari’s story officially began in 1947 when they built their first car under the Ferrari marque. The manufacturer was founded by Enzo Ferrari, who was an avid race car driver and devoted his entire life to racing. Ferrari built the iconic 125 S, which drove through the historic factory gates on Via Abetone Inferiore in Maranello. Enzo Ferrari was a driver for Alfa Romeo for five years and then founded Scuderia Ferrari in Modena, Italy in 1929. Enzo did not want to produce road cars, so Scuderia Ferrari only created and worked with race cars that were driven by some of the most famous drivers of all time.
Scuderia Ferrari quickly gained a notable reputation and “soon became the technical racing department for Alfa Romeo in 1933.” In 1939, Enzo left Alfa Romeo and began Auto Avio Construzioni to manufacture machine tools and aircraft parts. In 1940, Enzo created two new sports car models, the Auto Avio Construzioni 815 and Fiat 508C.
It wasn’t until 1947 that “the very first Ferrari-badged car [would finally hit the road] and the professional racing circuit.” The 125 Sport won the 1951 Grand Prix and the 1952 World Title. In 1957, the company changed its name to Auto Construzioni Ferrari.
Throughout the 1960s, competition brewed between Ford Motor Company and Ferrari. Ford began producing the GT, Shelby Cobra, and GT40 Mark II and posed a credible threat to the Ferrari reputation. Although Ford tried to purchase Ferrari, the deal never went through.
Looking to increase funding to develop and produce new cars, Ferrari sold Fiat S.p.A. a 50% stake late in 1969—when Porsche began production, aiming to supplant Ferrari’s dominance in racing.
Ferrari still held its iconic position as the “dominant European sports car company” through the 1970s and 1980s as Ferrari collected many racing victories and titles throughout Europe. They also dominated the Formula 1 circuit. After Enzo Ferrari died in 1988, Fiat purchased his shares, which brought their stake in the company to 90%. The collaboration lasted until 2015, when Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ferrari separated completely. In 2015, Ferrari shares debuted on the NYSE with the ticker symbol RACE. So much public interest was shown in the exciting event that the IPO was oversubscribed, raising more than $800 million.
As a publicly-owned company on the Mercato Telematico Azionario, Ferrari holds an unassailable position as one of the top sports car companies in history. Its impressive legacy is sure to remain intact for years to come.
All quotations in the post are from Brief History of Ferrari, https://www.euromotiveperformance.com/105-brief-history-of-ferrari/, accessed January 2021.