Quick: what comes to your mind when I say "Ferrari"? A line of gorgeous (and exorbitantly priced) supercars? Formula One racing? How about mule-shoeing, World War I flying ace, and the H1N1 virus?
Let's take a look at Neatorama's Top 10 Neat Facts About Ferrari:
1. A Ten-Year-Old Boy's Love of Racing
Enzo Ferrari, racing for Alfa Romeo (Image: Ferrari)
In 1908, Enzo Ferrari's father took him and his older brother to a race in Bologna. There, he became smitten with racing and wanted to become a race car driver. Ferrari's dream became reality in 1919, when he made his racing debut at the age of 21.
2. Enzo Ferrari was a Mule Shoer
During World War I, Enzo was a blacksmith and mule-shoer for the Italian army.
3. The H1N1 Connection
If you think that the current H1N1/Swine Flu is a new thing, think again: the Influenza virus H1N1 that you hear about all over the news today is the descendant of the virus responsible for the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic that killed as many as 100 million people worldwide.
In 1916, Enzo's father and brother died during an Italian flu outbreak, and in 1918, Enzo himself was stricken with the disease and almost died. Enzo was discharged from the Italian army but upon returning to his home in Modena, he discovered that his family's metal engineering firm had collapsed.
Enzo had to look for a job. When Fiat turned him down, he found a job as a test-driver for a small carmaker called CMN. A year later, his friend got him a job at Alfa Romeo as a race car driver. About ten years later, he started his own racing team, Scuderia ("stable") Ferrari.
4. Enzo was a Bad Ass
In 1919, while driving through the mountains of southern Italy to go to a race, Enzo Ferrari and fellow racer Ugo Sivocci were trapped by deep snow. They were going to be attacked by a pack of wolves but Enzo scared them off with a revolver that he kept with him at all times. They made the race. (Source)
5. Origin of Prancing Horse Logo
Francesco Baracca (c. June 1918)
The black prancing horse in the famous Ferrari logo was originally the symbol of Count Francesco Baracca, a flying ace in the Italian air force during World War I.
In 1923, Enzo Ferrari met Baracca's mother, Countess Paolina, who asked that he use the horse on his cars for good luck. It must've worked for Ferrari though Baracca didn't fare so well: his plane was shot down and he was killed in action at the age of 30.
See also: Neatorama's Evolution of Car Logos
6. How Ferrari Got the Nickname "Il Commendatore"
How did Enzo Ferrari got his nickname "Il Commendatore"? Was it because he's famously prickly and tyrannical? (Ferrari's longtime chief engineer Mauro Forghieri once remarked "As a businessman, he is excellent. As a human being, he is a zero" about him)
Actually, he was given the title Commendatore (literally Knight Commander) in 1927 for his racing accomplishments by the King of Italy Vittorio Emmanuel III. When Italy became a Republic in 1946, all honorary titles were canceled. So, technically, Il Commendatore became just a nickname for Enzo.
7. The Very First Ferrari
Ferrari 125 S (Photo: Daisuke Ido)
The very first car* produced and built under the Ferrari name is the Ferrari 125 S (125 after the engine displacement and S for Sport). I think it's one of the most beautiful cars - if not the most beautiful - Ferrari has ever made (though the 166 MM Barchetta ain't bad).
*Enzo Ferrari did make cars for Alfa Romeo before he started making Ferraris. One of the weirdest cars he ever made was the Alfa Romeo Bimotore, a car with two engines. One in front and another in the back of the driver.
8. The Most Expensive ... Brochure?!
You all know that Ferraris are expensive, but would you believe that even their brochures are pricey? In 1985, a brochure for the 1960's Ferrari 250 Le Mans fetched £1,070 at a Christie's auction in Monaco. A world record till today.
9. Most expensive Ferrari
1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa (Photo: 4WheelsNews)
The most expensive Ferrari ever sold was 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa (lit. "red head" - named that way because its red valve covers). It got 9.02 million euros in a recent auction. In addition to their legendary performance as race cars (the 250 TR won 10 international championships from 1958 to 1961), this model is also ultra rare: only 22 were ever constructed. (Source)
10. Wrecking a $1 Million Car.
You'd expect that when Ferrari made a car to honor its founder, it'd be good. And you'd be right: in 2002 Ferrari introduced the Enzo Ferrari, a sports car built using Formula One technology.
Only 400 cars were ever made ... and so far,
6 14 Enzos have been totaled.
At a million bucks EACH!
One strange tale involving a crashed Ferrari Enzo led to the capture of a high-flying Swedish criminal named Stefan "Fat Steve" Eriksson, head of the Uppsala mafia who bilked investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars by creating a failed handheld game unit Gizmondo. It's a fascinating story - if you haven't heard about it, Randall Sullivan of Wired wrote an article explaining the whole thing.
Bonus: Ferrari Factory
Photo: Laurence Yap / Canadian Driver
Want to see the inside of a Ferrari factory? Laurence Yap took a peek inside the Maranello facility and wrote this article for Canadian Driver:
Walk through the Ferrari factory towards the end of the working day – its hours are like regular office hours, Monday through Friday – and it can seem almost like you’re in Willy Wonka’s candy factory. On the line where they make V8-engined F430s, young workers in full Ferrari-red regalia circle around their work stations, smiles on their faces, and a tune whistling from their lips.
Most of the people working on the factory floor are in their 20s and 30s, as a whole chunk of older workers – hired in the sixties – retired recently, all at the same time. So as if building Ferraris wasn’t enough, the whole place buzzes with a lot more energy than your typical car factory. Workers have decorated their stations with Ferrari stickers, Schumacher posters, and other automotive memorabilia; they’re free to wear what they want, but they’re all wearing something red.