70 Years of Success
This year marks 70 years since the first Ferrari-badged sports car, a 1947 Ferrari 125 S, rolled out of the factory in Modena, Italy. Since then, the brand has grown to be an icon of both the sports car and high-end auto racing world. But there were plenty of post-war sports car builders toiling to make a name for themselves. So how did Ferrari become a tremendously prestigious carmaker while countless others faded into obscurity?
The Legend Himself, Enzo Ferrari
It all began with Enzo Ferrari himself. Ferrari took an interest in cars early in life and enjoyed a career working as a test driver in the Italian auto industry. Eventually, he started to compete. Ferrari likely would have stayed on this path had Italian driving hero Antonio Ascari not been killed in a competition accident in 1925.
Although Ferrari continued to race, Ascari’s death left him shaken and determined to focus more of his attention on the management side of Alfa Romeo’s successful racing program. In 1935, Ferrari founded his own Scuderia Ferrari team, which continued to run the Alfa factory racing effort. Ferrari walked when he disagreed about Alfa’s plan to run its racing program again in 1937. Following the events of World War II, which led Ferrari to Modena, he founded Ferrari S.p.A. in 1947 at the age of 49.
With decades of experience on his side, Ferrari set about winning in motorsports again. This time, with cars of his making. The program led to a Ferrari team victory in the 1949 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ferrari also became active in the Formula One World Championship when it launched in 1950. Since then, the company has become the most successful competitor in F1 history, with 16 constructor’s titles and more than 200 wins, both of which are all-time records. Ferrari also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans nine times overall.
The victories that Ferrari achieved at the track translated to sales of its road-going cars. Ferrari has built era-defining supercars throughout the years. Consider the 1962-1964 250 GTO, 1987-1992 Ferrari F40, 2002-2004 Enzo Ferrari model and 2016-present LaFerrari hybrid. Class-leading “volume” production machines like the F355 from the 1990s, the 430 Scuderia from the 2000s and the 488 further cemented Ferrari’s stake as an elite global sports car maker. Although Enzo Ferrari passed away in 1988, his legacy and the standard he set for the company and racing team live on to this day.
With talk of autonomous vehicles becoming more prevalent in coming years, driving enthusiasts may have some concern that the days of fun-to-drive sports cars are running out. While the technology that powers automobiles will always evolve and adapt to what consumers want, it’s hard to envision the world without a fast and beautiful Ferrari rolling out of a factory and onto a race track.
Sure, Ferrari road cars may get more hybrid technology (or perhaps even go all electric in coming decades). But as long as there’s a demand for fun-to-drive, world-class supercars, Ferrari will continue to be a prestigious brand rooted in victory at the highest levels.