The company’s story officially began in 1947 when the first Ferrari emerged from the historic factory entrance on Via Abetone Inferiore in Maranello. The 125 S, as it was known, embodied the passion and determination of the company’s founder.
Enzo Ferrari was born in Modena on February 18th 1898 and died on August 14th 1988. He devoted his entire life to designing and building sports cars and, of course, to the track. Having been made an official Alfa Romeo driver in 1924, within five years he had gone on to found the Scuderia Ferrari on Viale Trento Trieste in Modena which assisted mostly gentlemen drivers in racing their cars.
In 1938, Enzo Ferrari was appointed head of Alfa Corse but quit the position in 1939 to set up his own company, Auto Avio Costruzioni, which operated out of the old Scuderia buildings.
This new company produced the 1,500 cm³ 8-cylinder 815 spider, two of which were built for the Mille Miglia in 1940.
All racing activities ground to a halt, however, with the outbreak of the Second World War and, in late 1943, Auto Avio Costruzioni moved from Modena to Maranello. The end of the war saw Ferrari design and build the 1,500 cm³ 12-cylinder 125 S, which made its competitive debut in the hands of Franco Cortese at the Piacenza Circuit on May 11th 1947.
On the 25th of the same month, it won the Rome Grand Prix at the city’s Terme di Caracalla Circuit. Since that fateful day, Ferrari has garnered over 5,000 victories on the world’s tracks and roads, becoming a modern-day legend in the process.
In 1969, to meet the growing market demand, Enzo Ferrari sold 50% of his shares to Fiat Group, a figure that rose to 90% in 1988.
In 1991 Luca di Montezemolo was appointed chairman and remained in office until October 2014, when he was replaced by Sergio Marchionne, who is currently also CEO. Under his leadership, Ferrari launched first on the New York Stock Exchange in October 2015 and then on the Milan Stock Exchange in January 2016, and has become an independent company.
To date Ferrari’s most important sporting successes include 15 F1 World Drivers’ Championships, 16 F1 World Constructors’ Championships, 14 Sports Car Manufacturers’ World titles, nine wins at 24 Hours of Le Mans, eight at the Mille Miglia, seven at the Targa Florio and 226 victories in F1 Grand Prix.
The legendary symbol used by Ferrari has heroic origins. It was first adopted as a personal emblem by a highly decorated Italian World War I pilot, Francesco Baracca, who had it painted on the fuselage of his aircraft. It harked back to his years as a cavalry officer and, according to some recent studies, is a Persano horse, the breed used by the House of Savoy for its regiments.
At the end of the war, Baracca’s parents offered to allow Enzo Ferrari use the Cavallino Rampante (Prancing Horse) symbol. He adopted it as the logo for his racing Scuderia, placing it on a yellow shield in honour of his hometown of Modena and topping it with the Italian tricolour.
The classic Ferrari red, however, was simply the colour assigned by the International Automobile Federation to Italian grand prix cars in the early years of the last century.