Enzo Ferrari: The Man Behind the World’s Most Exotic Car Brand
“If you can dream it, you can do it.” -Enzo Ferrari.
Whenever many think of the name Ferrari, chances are they associate its founder with a level of wealth and prestige.
They may not think of a man who had all odds against him, one who had a tragic family life and the disapproval of those who he regarded in high standards.
This was a man who was constructed of nothing but passion, obsession, and raw drive. We are talking, of course, about Enzo Ferrari.
Alfredo and Aldegisa Ferrari would welcome Enzo Ferrari into this world in Modena, Italy, on February 18, 1898. Despite the legacy that would ensue, his parents predetermined that Enzo and his brother Dino would work within the family business. Alfredo was a structural steel contractor and would strive for his sons to join him.
As a boy, Enzo already knew work in his father’s shop was not the life he wanted. Despite what his romanticized imagination may have dreamt up for other career choices, Enzo still respected and loved his father. Perhaps Alfredo’s biggest blunder in raising his boys to follow in his footsteps? Taking both Dino and Enzo to their first automobile race in 1908.
Enzo initially had intents and dreams of living life as a journalist or an opera singer. He already knew that he wanted to be front and center in the limelight. Once he was exposed to the world of automobile racing, he had found his true calling.
During his very first visit to the track, Enzo would encounter the same addictive elements that many auto enthusiasts had experienced – the speed, sounds, and smells of the racetrack. He quickly became addicted, nearly obsessed. The only antidote for this sickness could only be found in a troubling but triumphant future of the young Enzo Ferrari.
The World Wars
Before Enzo could follow or find his path, he and his brother would be exposed to the world wars that had stricken Europe. Before this, both Ferrari sons were being tailored for the family business. While Dino would follow his father’s dream, Enzo was resilient and would flunk out of school.
By 1915, Dino had enlisted in the Italian Army and served as an ambulance driver. In 1916, as the war waged on, Alfredo would pass away to pneumonia, and his brother would soon fall to typhoid fever.
Without Alfredo, the family business would fall, and Enzo was naturally sent into a whirlwind with the sudden losses of both his father and his brother. In 1917, Enzo was drafted into the Italian Army, and despite his claim of being a skilled auto mechanic, without any formal education or boastful background, Enzo was given the task of shoeing the mules.
The Ferrari Emblem
Despite a somewhat discouraging experience during World War I, Enzo would not walk away empty-handed. It was here he would be inspired by fighter ace Count Francesco Baracca – a man credited for 34 aerial victories. The black stallion painted on the side of Baracca’s fighter plane would result in the Ferrari emblem we know and love today.
Ironically, when Enzo had no choice, and the Fascist War Machine of WWII came to fruition, Enzo would serve again. Many historians are not sure exactly what the army initially wanted from Enzo, but they soon used him for his superb capabilities to manufacture and develop equipment.
After the war, Enzo had nothing left but to forge his way in the world. With a letter of recommendation from the colonel of his regiment and a dream in his heart, Enzo headed for Turin, Italy, to seek employment.
As a child, the Fiats on the racetrack had captured his soul, and he would look to the Agnelli Family for employment in the Fiat plant. However, much like those who turned him down in the war, they too would be unimpressed and turn Enzo away. It was then that Enzo would swear vengeance, and as a gentleman, he would settle this vendetta on the racetrack.
While living in Turin, Ferrari met a test driver who would get him a job with one of the small automakers in Milan. From the point of no employment and defeat, this was Enzo’s first big break that gave the youngster the funds to purchase and race a used car. Ultimately, this car and Enzo’s time on the track would land him the chance to race for Alfa Romeo.
The Birth of the P2
After several years of running with Alfa Romeo’s racing team, Enzo and his fellow driver, the very one who landed him the job in Milan, would arrive at the European Grand Prix in Monza. Here, the Alfa Romeo P1 was planned to debut, however, with Enzo’s dear friend Ugo Sivocci behind the wheel, the car had spun out, killing the driver.
Enzo felt the P1 was to blame for his friend’s death. This drove him to team up with engineers in the field to reimagine the car and develop what they had dubbed the P2, which would hit a top speed of 121 mph – an amazing feat for the 1920s.
With the P2, Ferrari and companions would reign victorious on the track, pushing the Agnelli Family off the track. From here Ferrari was backed by wealthy investors to develop racing cars for Alfa Romeo. For a man who was pushed to the proverbial gates of hell and back, this was the real birth of Ferrari as we know it today.
Not long after his steps to develop racing cars under his new business Scuderia Ferrari, WWII would postpone any further development into automobiles. Though, almost as soon as the war had ended, Enzo would develop the Tipo 125. This was a car with a massive V12 engine and was the first Ferrari car. Though in its very first race the fuel pump had broke, the Tipo 125 had held the lead with just three laps to go. Enzo took this as a promising failure.
With momentum under his belt and the attention of the world, Enzo was ready to grow from local hero to legend, but he needed more capital. It was an opportune time for Luigi Chinetti to approach Enzo for the exclusive rights to begin selling road cars under the Ferrari name in America. Enzo, a man obsessed with auto racing, had little interest in these vehicles, but it would provide the foundation necessary for him to continue to pursue his passion.
Life After Death
Enzo Ferrari never stopped pushing to develop the greatest racing cars of all time and always channeled his struggles, hurdles, and emotions into the desire to achieve excellence. Year after year, he would turn out more and more fantastic race cars that redefined what would be considered the standard of a racing automobile until his death on August 14, 1988.
In 2002, Ferrari would develop the Enzo Ferrari, also known unofficially as the Ferrari Enzo or F60. Only 400 were produced between 2002-2004, and the F1-inspired, 651-horsepower Enzo Ferrari would become the pinnacle of Ferrari design.