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Ferrari Was Born From Alfa Romeo and 9 Extra Issues You By no means Knew Concerning the Prancing Horse

Ferrari Was Born From Alfa Romeo and 9 Extra Issues You By no means Knew Concerning the Prancing Horse

Even if you don’t know a single thing about cars, you know Ferrari. The Italian carmaker’s name is shorthand for pinnacle automotive performance, evocative styling, and total exclusivity. The first Ferrari road cars came out in 1947. Since then, the company has gone through tumultuous times and had enormous success building cars for the road and the race track. 

To better understand Ferrari today, let’s take a look at the history and traditions that have shaped and guided the company.

Ferrari Was Born From Alfa Romeo’s Racing Team

Before Enzo Ferrari founded his own car company, he was a race car driver for Alfa Romeo. When Enzo became a father, he quit driving race cars but stayed closely involved in the sport. His racing team, Scuderia Ferrari, was Alfa Romeo’s official, factory-backed competition division throughout most of the 1930s, but Enzo parted ways with Alfa in 1939. By 1945, Enzo had launched his own car company, and the first road car to wear the Ferrari name was built in 1947.

Enzo Ferrari Viewed Road Cars as a Way to Fund Racing

Enzo Ferrari was a self-taught racing driver and engineer, and he was singularly obsessed with racing. While he gave up his own driving career in 1932, Enzo’s greatest passion was his racing team. From the very beginning, Ferrari earned a reputation for building some of the most beautiful and capable sports cars on the road, but Enzo was ruthlessly pragmatic about his car-making business: He viewed it simply as a way to earn money that could fund his racing endeavors. 

Enzo Ferrari, Ferrari Test

Bernard Cahier

Enzo Ferrari (Maybe) Inspired Ferruccio Lamborghini to Start His Own Competing Car Company

It’s not often that you can trace the founding of a global company to a single conversation, but according to legend, that’s exactly how Lamborghini got started. Ferruccio Lamborghini had built a successful farm tractor company after World War II, and by the early 1960s he had owned several Ferrari sports cars. As the story goes, in 1962 Lamborghini took one of his Ferraris back to the factory to complain to Enzo Ferrari himself about constant clutch issues. Allegedly, Enzo replied with something along the lines of “Maybe you should learn how to drive,” and Ferruccio was so insulted, that he vowed to start his own car company to compete with Ferrari. Historians have cast doubt on the exact details of this origin story, but it’s clear that Ferruccio Lamborghini launched his car company to compete with Ferrari.

Ferrari Was Almost Part of Ford Motor Co

By the early 1960s, Enzo was interested in offloading his road-car division to focus exclusively on racing. Henry Ford II, CEO of Ford Motor Company, offered to buy Ferrari, hoping to use Ferrari’s racing success to boost Ford sales in Europe. An offer was made, but Enzo Ferrari felt that Ford wanted too much control over his racing business, and he scuttled the deal. Incensed, Henry Ford II vowed to beat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the most challenging sports car race on earth. He succeeded, with Ford GT40s sweeping first, second, and third place in the 1966 race. This saga would later inspire the epic 2019 film Ford v Ferrari.

Gerhard Berger in a Ferrari at the Formula 1 US Grand Prix in 1989

1989 F1 US Grand Prix

David Madison

It’s Hard to Buy a New Ferrari, And That’s on Purpose

You can’t just walk into a Ferrari dealership and buy a brand-new car. Modern Ferraris are almost exclusively purchased on special order, with each customer hand-selecting the paint color, interior upholstery, and dozens of other details to make their car unique—and taking delivery of their custom-built vehicle months or years later. Ferrari strictly limits how many orders it will take on each model, which creates lots of competition among customers. Most Ferrari dealerships will only take new-car orders from repeat customers who start out buying and selling used cars to develop a dealer relationship. This strategy goes back to Enzo Ferrari, who reportedly summed up his production strategy like this: “We will build one car less than the market demands.”

Vintage Ferraris Are Among the Most Expensive Cars Ever Auctioned

Brand-new Ferraris can be outrageously expensive—like the $2.2 million Daytona SP3—but the right vintage model can fetch more than 10 times that amount. In 2023, classic-car insurance company Hagerty tabulated the most expensive cars ever sold at auction. Eight out of the top 10 were Ferraris, and all but one were former race cars. In the 1950s and 1960s, Ferrari built cars in small numbers, with the rarest examples numbering in the dozens or fewer. True to his racing obsession, Enzo Ferrari would discard out-of-date race cars without hesitation. Today, a vintage Ferrari with genuine racing heritage might fetch as much as $51.7 million—the hammer price of a gorgeous 1962 Ferrari 330 LM / 250 GTO by Scaglietti sold by RM Sothebys at auction in November 2023.

Ferrari Sales Have Doubled in the Past 15 Years

In 2023, Ferrari sold 13,663 cars worldwide. Thanks in large part to the success of the Purosangue SUV, 2023 was just the third year in Ferrari’s history with more than 10,000 sales. In 2000, the company sold just over 4,000 vehicles, with annual sales growing almost continuously every year since. The company says it will limit Purosangue sales to 20 percent of total annual output, to avoid becoming too dependent on the SUV. 

Ferrari Testarossa Pininfarina

Franco Origlia

The Purosangue Is the First Four-Door, Four-Seat Ferrari

The Ferrari Purosangue is named after a thoroughbred horse. By Ferrari standards, it’s entirely unconventional: While the company has made four-seat sports cars in the past, the Purosangue is the first Ferrari with four doors. The company resists calling it an SUV, instead preferring to describe the Purosangue as a “four-door, four-seat car” … one that just happens to have an SUV’s ride height and five-door silhouette. 

Electric Ferraris Are Coming, But They Won’t Be Quiet

Engine sound is a crucial part of the Ferrari experience, whether it’s a singing V6, a melodious V8, or a screaming V12. Ferrari has committed to building electric supercars, but the company promises that even an all-electric Ferrari will have a “sound signature” that will “stir emotions and rival that famously produced by its combustion engines.”

Internal Combustion Still Matters at Ferrari

Ferrari may be working on an all-electric car, but the company still wants to make gasoline engines. By 2026, Ferrari says 60 percent of its road-going vehicles will be electrified—hybrid or fully electric. That means the remaining 40 percent will be purely powered by gasoline, with all the internal-combustion music and excitement that comes with it.

Source: Robb Report

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