Enzo Ferrari The True Story

How legends are built: the true story of Enzo Ferrari

With the valuable support, depth of knowledge and illustrative talent of Prof. Massimo Grandi

Photo credit: Massimo Grandi

In 1920, Enzo Ferrari, having decided in the wake of the Great War that racing was to be his life, founded a business that in today’s terms would be defined a start-up.

With the support of images provided by Massimo Grandi, we are kicking off 2021 with the story of Enzo Ferrari and his various enterprises. However, this will be the true story, not the one most people know! We will be sharing details that shed light on exactly how Ferrari succeeded in creating, from nothing, a timeless and legendary story of the kind that fascinate the whole world a story of boldness and vision, like those of Steve Jobs and Elon Musk.

The story, which we will be publishing in instalments every Monday, covers three main periods in Ferrari’s life. In short, we will be looking at: the early days and Ferrari’s time as a racing driver; the invention of the Scuderia concept; and Ferrari the car maker.

In 1919, Enzo Ferrari took part in his first competitive race, the Parma-Poggio di Berceto hill climb. Only 21 years old at the time, he was supported in this endeavor by his employer, the car manufacturer CMN (for which he would drive bare chassis from Turin to Milan, to receive their bodywork). At this event, he notched up his first success: a fantastic fourth place!

Enzo Ferrari during his racing debut at the Parma-Poggio di Berceto
1919: the announcement for the hill climb race in Parma-Poggio di Berceto where Enzo Ferrari was to arrive fourth behind the wheel of the CMN. An excellent debut!
Targa Florio 1919, in a clearly staged image, the young Ferrari plays the part of a driver. In the actual race, however, he ran out of time

In 1932, Enzo, by this time a well-known driver, had the brilliant idea of creating a club, or Scuderia, for the purpose of giving both amateur (i.e., paying) and professional drivers the chance to race. The many professionals who got involved included the famous Nuvolari. The Scuderia proved to be a hugely successful and profitable venture.

His driving experience gave Ferrari the idea to create a Scuderia that would bring professional and amateur drivers into the race. A winning idea!
The headquarters of the Scuderia Ferrari in Modena. Note the service trucks with the logos of the companies that gave him support. Ferrari had invented sponsors
The Shell oil company was among the Scuderia’s first partners. A marriage that lasts to this day

1940. This was the year in which Enzo parted company with Alfa Romeo (after winding up his Scuderia there), and embarked on his adventure as a car manufacturer. Since the terms of his “divorce” from Alfa Romeo prohibited him from using the Ferrari brand name for at least four years, the first car he built was for Auto Avio Costruzioni (his own firm). The model in question, the Auto Avio Costruzioni 815, made its debut in the 1940 Mille Miglia.

The first Ferrari built is not called a Ferrari, but the 815 Auto Avio. Its debut at the Mille Miglia in 1940 was brilliant but both Alberto Ascari’s and Rangoni Machiavelli’s cars stopped due to prob-lems of inexperience
In March 1947, with Luigi Bazzi driving, road tests began on what was to be the first real Ferrari: the 125 S. The car still had no bodywork and was presented with the logo created for the com-pany: no longer the racing shield, but the black prancing horse on a yellow background in a rectangle

Fast but fragile, the two 815s participating in that event, driven respectively by Alberto Ascari and Lotario Rangoni Machiavelli, both had the misfortune to break down when extremely well placed. By this time, of course, the Second World War had already begun, and for this reason, everything had to be put on hold. It was therefore to be a few years before Enzo was finally able to unveil the Ferrari 125. Created at Maranello in 1947, this was the first car to bear his name, and was thus the first true Ferrari.   

Every chapter in this story stems from the intelligence and enormous talent of a man whose example, even today, can teach us things about what it takes to be successful, as we shall discover