From its inception to today, Ferrari has been steadfast in its vision to create cars that are fast, bold, and command loyalty. Everyone knows Ferraris are speedy, gorgeous, and expensive, but did you know the Ferrari plant in Maranello, Italy, is just a 20-minute drive from Enzo Ferrari’s birthplace of Modena, Italy? Or that Ferrari has its own racetrack for development and testing purposes right in its manufacturer’s backyard? Enzo Ferrari himself would watch his beloved F1 creations from his house or venture trackside to watch his cars in action. With such a devoted figurehead, a record of success, and a loyal customer base, Ferrari has built an exclusive exotic car club that most of us are left to dream about - but that doesn’t mean its fascinating history is off-limits.
Here are some things you should know about Ferrari, from its history to its current state.
1. Enzo Ferrari started as a race car driver.
Enzo Ferrari was born in Modena, Italy, in 1898 and wanted to become a racing driver from a young age. After serving in the Italian Army during the first world war, he began searching for a job in the auto industry. He settled for a test driver job and was later promoted to race car driver, making his competitive debut in 1919. For the next decade, Enzo was fully committed to racing. He joined the racing department of Alfa Romeo in 1920, winning his first Grand Prix in 1923 and establishing Scuderia Ferrari (team Ferrari, or Ferrari Stables) in 1929 under the Alfa Romeo banner, driving Alfa vehicles.
2. The first Ferrari was met with unique hurdles.
Despite its success serving as Alfa’s racing division, Scuderia Ferrari was initially dissolved in 1938 when Alfa Romeo decided to re-enter racing, reclaiming and renaming the team. Although retired from racing by this time, Enzo disagreed with the move. He was dismissed from Alfa Romero in 1939 and forbidden from racing under his own name for four years. Even though Ferrari built the first iterations of the 125 S in 1940, the cars could not don the Ferrari name. Ferrari’s factory was then designated to undertake war production for the Italian government during WWII, further setting back Ferrari production. Finally, the first Ferrari vehicle bearing the Ferrari name, the 125 S, debuted in 1947.
Ferrari 125 S, 1947 (image from Ferrari.com)
3. Ferrari sold road cars solely to fund its racing operation.
In the late 1940s, a race car driver and old acquaintance of Enzo Ferrari, Luigi Chinetti, convinced him to ramp up its race car production. To do so, he convinced Ferrari to let him sell Ferrari road cars in America, as up until that point, Ferraris were only available to wealthy racing enthusiasts and competition drivers. Thus, the first Ferrari dealership was opened by Chinetti in the U.S., in Manhattan. Though the dealership was later moved to Connecticut, Chinetti’s territory grew to encompass all areas east of the Mississippi river and attract buyers from all over the country.
4. Ferrari didn’t choose the Ferrari red color.
Picture a Ferrari, and there’s a good chance the one in your mind is red. The first Ferrari to leave the Maranello factory in the 1940s was red, and red Ferraris have been an icon of exotic and racing cars ever since. More than 85% of all Ferraris produced before the turn of the century boasted the famous Rosso Corsa pigmentation.
In the formative days of motor racing, the car’s color wasn’t chosen by its owner, manufacturer, or sponsors. Instead, the governing body (that later became the FIA) designated a color based on nationality. Had Ferrari been French-born, we might have had Ferrari Blue or Ferrari Green if he was British. Italian cars were designated racing red, and Ferrari favored those roots throughout its history.
5. Ferrari got the "prancing horse" logo from an ace pilot.
The prancing horse logo can be traced back to 1692, when Vittorio Amadeo II, the Duke of Savoy, founded the Royal Piedmont Regiment. Enter Count Francesco Baracca, born into a wealthy family in 1888, who in his early life became a cavalryman with the aforementioned prestigious Piemonte Reale Cavalleria. Baracca enjoyed a career filled with many victories as Italy’s top fighter ace before his death in combat in 1918. What did Baracca have painted on the fuselage of his bi-plane? The prancing horse. In 1923, Enzo Ferrari won the Savio racing car circuit in Ravenna and an audience with Baracca’s parents, who asked Ferrari to carry on the memory of their son by putting the stallion emblem on his cars. Ferrari obliged but added the yellow background as a nod to his own hometown of Modena. The symbol first appeared on the Ferrari Alfa Romeo in 1932.
6. Ford nearly acquired Ferrari but became their rival instead.
Ford wanted to get into racing in the early 1960s, a difficult task without having a sports car in its portfolio just yet. Instead of investing heavily in developing one, it decided to invest heavily in buying one with a reputation for its racing accomplishments. Ferrari, meanwhile, needed capital injection. The multi-million dollar deal seemed a sure thing until Enzo Ferrari came across the contract clause stating that Ferrari would need to get any future racing financials approved by Ford. Racing was too close to Ferrari’s heart, and he ended up walking away from the deal.
Famously, Henry Ford II decided not only to get into racing regardless but expressly set out to crush Ferrari at Le Mans. Thus was born the Ford GT40, which would go on to finish the 66’ Le Mans with a 1-2-3 finish, then proceed to win four years in a row - upending Ferrari’s supremacy.
In 2019, the fabled clash of motor titans was dramatized in Ford vs. Ferrari, a film starring Matt Damon, Christian Bale, and Jon Bernthal.
Ford vs Ferrari 2019, 20th Century Fox (image from motortrend.com)
7. Without Ferrari, Lamborghini might still be making tractors.
In another tale of clashing figureheads, Ferruccio Lamborghini once briefly met with Enzo Ferrari to file a constructive complaint. Ferruccio was a highly successful tractor manufacturer, having established Lamborghini Trattori in 1948. So successful was he that he owned a Ferrari 250GT but found fault with the clutch in the vehicle. He arranged a meeting with Enzo Ferrari in 1963 to offer a critique and possible solution to the issue. Still, the discussion quickly became a heated argument as Enzo took exception to the criticism. As the story goes, Enzo said, “Let me make cars. You stick to making tractors.”
Little did Enzo Ferrari know he had suddenly made another industry rival. Ferruccio Lamborghini left the meeting with a new purpose and immediately set out to establish Automobili Lamborghini to make cars that would be faster and better than Ferrari. The rest is history - but you can get your hands on a Ferrari or a Lamborghini from Clutch Exotics to test for yourself.
A History of Success:
8. Enzo’s final concept was the F40.
In 1988, the automotive world lost one of its giants in Enzo Ferrari. Ferrari celebrated its 40th anniversary and unveiled the mighty F40 in 1987. It was the last car Enzo commissioned. At the time, the F40 was the pinnacle of road-going Ferraris, a pure performance powerhouse, and many collectors and enthusiasts still believe it to be one of the all-time great models. The Ferrari F40 debuted with a planned production of 400 units and a suggested retail of $400,000.
9. Ferrari is the most successful F1 team in history.
Scuderia Ferrari earns marks for seniority, being the oldest surviving Formula One racing team in history and having competed in every world championship since 1950. It’s not a stretch to imagine the team would have the most championship and total race wins in the sport’s history. Ferrari has totaled 242 race wins (compared to second place McLaren’s 183) and 31 championships (16 Constructors’ and 15 Driver’s championships, both records).
The team has consisted of several racing legends, including Michael Schumacher. Schumacher is one of the winningest racers in F1 history and was once one of the highest-paid sportsmen of all time when racing with Ferrari (earning $60 million between 1999-2000).
10. Ferrari went public but stuck to its roots.
For most of its history, Ferrari was privately owned by the Ferrari family, with major stake ownership by Fiat/Chrysler from 1969 to 2016. With its IPO in 2015, Ferrari completed its transformation from a startup racing team, selling road cars solely to fund its racing operation, to a multibillion-dollar global brand. One could argue its success comes from staying true to its ethos, a sentiment that appears to remain steadfast. Ferrari now trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker RACE.
A Symbol of Wealth and Status:
11. Ferrari dominates “Most expensive cars” lists.
Yes, Ferraris are expensive. Some are more expensive than others, and some are more expensive than nearly every other car ever made. In a list of the most expensive cars ever sold at auction, seven of the top ten (and fifteen of the top twenty!) are Ferraris, fetching prices as high as $48.4 million (‘62 Ferrari 250 GTO). That particular Ferrari was dethroned in 2022 by the sale of a ‘55 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe, estimated at a whopping $142 million. One could buy a few Ferraris with that kind of cash.
12. Ferrari is way more exclusive than you thought.
The value of Ferrari has always been propelled not only by its quality but also by its exclusivity. When we look at the numbers, there are fewer than 300 licensed Ferrari dealers worldwide and only about 50 in the United States. By contrast, Mercedes-Benz has roughly 6,500 authorized dealerships worldwide and around 380 in the United States. Perhaps an even more impressive number is that of the approximately 50 million cars manufactured worldwide each year, only about 8,000 of them are Ferraris. Doing the quick math, only about 0.016% of all cars made yearly are Ferraris.
That’s not the end of it, either. Ferrari won’t sell to just anyone who walks into a dealership with a heavy wad of bills a brand new vehicle (though being a celebrity or a person of power certainly helps). There are relatively particular rules and stipulations for ownership. Guidelines generally require the buyer to be or look over the age of 40, show proof of ownership that they have owned Ferraris before and agree to use only approved garages, and make no modifications to the vehicle (especially no painting it shades of pink), on top of other requirements. Some dealerships won’t sell you a car without a strong prior relationship, if you own a Lamborghini, or if you’ve ever publicly shared a bad word about Ferrari. Obtaining a limited-edition Ferrari is even more of a challenge. Ferrari doesn’t just reward cash; it rewards lifelong loyalty - and why shouldn’t it? It has more than earned the respect demanded of its vehicle owners. While purchasing is a challenge, you could always rent a Ferrari from Clutch Exotics if you’re in the Miami, Florida, area.
The Future of Ferrari:
13. Ferrari makes lots and lots and lots of money.
Obviously, but just how much? We can draw no easy comparison in terms of operating margin, no analogy colossal enough to illustrate just what Ferrari has been able to accomplish. Ferrari made an astounding $106,000 per car sold in 2021. A distant second was Tesla, which earned just shy of $7,000 per vehicle sold. Ferrari’s branded merchandise, such as hats, tee-shirts, key chains, etc., accounts for a staggering $1.5 - $2 billion per year. Ferrari earned nearly $5.3B in total revenue in the ‘22 fiscal year.
14. Ferraris are customizable.
In 2019, Ferrari opened its third “tailor-made center” in the world, a massive showroom on Manhattan’s Park Ave. Ferrari has long allowed premier customers to select the basic features of their cars. This customization experience is something else entirely. Buyers can choose details such as fabrics, leathers, woods, paint colors, and wheels - all with exceptions in keeping with Ferrari's ethos. If one can obtain a Ferrari and choose the customization route, the vehicle cost could hike as high as 20%-100%, depending on the modifications.
2023 Ferrari Purosangue (Image from Motortrend.com)
15. Ferrari has never made an SUV … until now.
You may have picked up on several themes if you've read this far. One of them is how Ferrari sticks to its brand's spirit. While some competitors such as Lamborghini, Porsche, and Bentley have all produced consumer SUVs (which are all fantastic offerings), Ferrari has not entered that market...until now, that is. Despite Enzo Ferrari having once purportedly vowed never to produce a four-door car, the stunning 2023 Ferrari Purosangue is upon us. How the times change…
16. There is a Ferrari-themed amusement park.
The award-winning Ferrari World officially opened in late 2010 on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The park features several themed experiences, a slew of additional rides for families and children, and five roller coasters. In keeping with Ferrari’s spirit, one of Ferrari World’s five roller coasters, Formula Rossa, is the fastest roller coaster in the world, topping out at nearly 150MPH. The park is mostly indoors and is open year-round.
Ferrari World (image from Ferrariworldabudhabi.com)
Despite the long history, exclusivity and costs, readers may be left with one question: If I can’t own a Ferrari, does that mean I can never experience driving a Ferrari? The answer is you still can! There are Ferrari experiences worldwide, and you can always rent one. Contact Clutch Exotics if you’re in Miami, FL, for your exotic car rental needs.