• The Ferrari Story

    At the age of 10 Enzo Ferrari attended Coppa Florio, a car race held in Bologna, Italy. That was in1908 and according to his autobiography "My terrible joys" after that event he was pretty much sure of his life occupation. Next crucial moment in times before Scuderia comes after WW I, when Enzo got turned down by Fiat and was only with the help of a friend Ugo Sivocci that he managed to find employment.

    The company’s name was CMN, and Enzo was working as a test driver. In those days that meant, that you were supposed to enter as many road races as possible, and of course try and win some of them without getting killed. After several years at CMN Enzo switched to mother of Italian autosport, the fabulous Alfa Romeo. According to his recollection, the pinnacle of his racing driver career was a stunning win with Alfa voiturette at Coppa Acerbo race in Pescara, when he took 1st place in front of two Mercedes cars that have won that years prestigious Targa Florio race (1924).

    In 1929 Enzo formed Scuderia Ferrari, a private enterprise to race Alfa Romeos. The Scuderia (roughly translated - a stable, but in such a context-team) quickly started winning races and became the sports branch of Alfa with legends such as Tazio Nuvolari, Giussepe Farina, Achille Varzi behind the wheel of little Alfas. The late 30ties saw an onslaught of government backed Mercedes and Auto Union but Scuderia Ferrari managed a memorable victory in German backyard at Nurburgring in 1935 with Nuvolari behind the wheel.1938 saw Enzos break up with Alfa, and in 1939 Enzo puts to racing first 2 Ferraris, Tipo’s 815(8 cylinder, 1.5liter eng.).

    They couldn’t have been called Ferrari cars officially because of contract clauses in break up agreement with Alfa Romeo. The upcoming war ceased sporting events, but in 1946 a small enthusiastic Scuderia from Modena started its journey into autosports legend, and for starters with nothing less then a 1.5 litre aluminium block V12, the Tipo 125.125 meant the displacement of one cylinder in ccm a designation method Enzo will keep for quite a while. Soon the 125 engine (also called Colombo small-block, after the designer) got its sibling in GP racing, a supercharged version.1948 saw the first Ferrari racer sold to "general public". At that time Scuderia already had a 24hrs Le Mans won, and after the first GP win over Alfa Romeos Alfettas Enzo Ferrari cried out.." I’ve killed my mother". The name was made on the glorious song of twelve cylinders hand crafted from a shed in Modena, that took on the giants of auto-production industry, and won over the hearts and minds of people addicted to speed, romance and a mixture of gasoline and adrenaline.

    After a stunning kick start Scuderia Ferrari founds itself at the start of the road racing battle that would rage across the road and race tracks from the early 50ties up to today’s times. Mind you F1 racing was not that popular at least not until the late 60ties,early 70ties,the real mustard was cut on road races, sort of rally predecessors such as Tour d France, Mille Miglia, Targa Florio, Mexican Carrera and track events that hosted sportscars, prototypes and later GT class racers (Daytona, Sebring and THE motorsport event 24hrs of Le Mans). The workhorse until the late 60ties was that tiny Colombo small-block engine which has seen displacement increases from original 1.5liter of the Tipo 125 and 166 racers to 4.1 litre road rocket 375 MM (named after 4th consecutive Mille Miglia win).

    All those racers were V12, engine front, rear drive cars. One of the invincible ones was the 212 Inter, which grew to the 250 Testa Rossa a World Sports car Championship winner in 58,60 and 61.

    The aforementioned 375MM was an epytomus of Enzo s stubbornness. When almost all of Ferraris opposition switched to mid-engined cars and all independent suspension, Ferrari drivers were stuck with a front engined, rear drive rigid axle car, with a power output from a 4.1 litre of 340 odd or so HP.

    That car on the Le Mans straight clocked 180mph,and drivers usually went to drive the lesser engined 350 type whenever they could invent an excuse, cause 375MM was probably the most evil handling car of that times. Timeframe is switching to the early 60ties and perhaps the shiniest and proudest moments in Scuderia's history, and also one of the fiercest battles in the motor-racing history. Ford and Carrol Shelby introduced the AC Cobra, and Ford GT40 a state of the art mid engined racer, Mercedes and Porsche were trying to follow into Fords new kind of Big-Bucks racing theory. Mind you Cobra and Ford GT40 were raced in prototypes and sports car classes, with full-fledged corporate backing, and with engines of displacement from 7.0-9.0 litre.

    In the other corner was the most beautiful car of all times, Ferrari 250 GTO (gran turismo omologato) which Enzo managed to homologate as a continued development of the 250SWB without having to meet FIA production quotas. The 250 GTO of 1962 embarked on to win sports cars manufacturers titles for Scuderia and Tour de France races in 62, 63 and 64. The engine, a 3.0 litre Colombo aluminium small block, with such goodies as magnesium alloy cam covers, and twin cam shafts feeded through 6 twin throat Webers revved in race tune up to 9000 rpm, and screamed out close to 400 lovely horses. The car was a homolagtion scam, but still managed to destroy its class opposition with front engine and rigid rear axle assembly (this time for homlogation purposes only). On complaints from designers and drivers Enzo just waved of his hand while mumbling..."The horse doesn’t push the cart, it pulls it". That meant that Ferrari drivers had to soldier on with opposition in modern mid engined cars, with rear drive-front engine Cavallinos. The attention in racing shifts to Prototype class, and the most coveted event of the 60ties Le Mans 24hrs and now I will try and introduce my esteemed audience into the first mid engined Ferrari prototype the legendary 250 LM (LM you re guessing, stands for Le Mans race win, hehe).....

    In the 1961 Phil Hill won the World Championship in the mid engined F1 car for Ferrari. In spite of Enzo's stubbornness it showed Ferrari designers that mid engine design was the right way if Scuderia was to stay competitive in road races and win overall in Le Mans. That led to the mean looking 250 P (for Prototipo) which of course was powered by an even more souped up Colombo of the 250 GTO sports car racer. The car won the 1963 Le Mans (4th in a row), 12hrs Sebring and gained the coveted LM sign.

    But Fords juggernaut the GT 40 was becoming faster by the minute, and their resources were bottomless so was the goal to finally finish of the Scuderia. Mind you, that GT40 raced an engine twice the displacement (<7lt) of Ferrari for the 64
    and 65 Le Mans the 275 P and Scuderia’s top racer the 330P P. Both of those cars were powered by Colombo small blocks V12s and the 4.0 litre puffed out close to 480 horses for the 24 hrs event. Ford showed up in force, already winning for the most of the season with the big GT40.

    At the 1965 Le Mans sure money was on Ford, hopeless Ferrari addicts were betting petty cash on works Ferrari team and theirs 330 P-s, but they were clear outsiders to mighty Fords. Enzos old friend and main importer for Ferrari in the USA, Luigi Chinneti (former race driver for Alfa, and Scuderia Ferrari) entered a hopelessly obsolete and underpowered 250 LM, a 63 design car, actually the original car that won the 63 event at Sebring (only 32 of the 250 Lm design cars were built) as NART (North American racing team). Nobody laid their money on that privately entered Cavallino who was set to do battle with the mighty Fords, and new Ferraris the 330 P cars. What happened was one of the most memorable upsets in racing history, and one of the most emotional moments in Enzos lifetime (according to his autobiography "My terrible joys").

    NARTs drivers Jochen Rindt and Masten Gregory drove the wheels off their little 250 Cavallino, and in spite of GT40 fords, 330P crashing out, blowing transmissions, and with all the faster cars droping out, come Sunday afternoon at 4 o’clock, the NART 250 LM Ferrari took it home, first overall at the Le Mans for the Scuderia’s 9th time. The car was a busted up overraced wreck, but on the penultimate lap Rindt shrieked past the Le Mans straight close to 190mph with the little Colombo 3.0 litre redlining at 9500 rpm, romancing with the spectators and its driver with a sound of the ripping canvas. After that, dowshifting through 5 gear non-synchromesh gearbox with the car leaving puffs of burnt oil smoke, sliding beneath the chequered flag into motor racing legend. That was the last Ferrari Le Mans victory in Enzos lifetime.

    Enzo aware of the upcoming onslaught by corporate car makers, tried to homologate 250,330P cars into sports car category, but FIA insisted that a minimum of 100 cars must be produced. Enzo had no intention (and no funds) of doing so, and in 1964 he has withdrawn from Formula World Championship series. Sort of. He overpainted the Scuderia’s red Cavalinos with US white/blue racing scheme, and entered them as NART Formula team, and won the 64 championship. Eventually FIA agreed upon homolagation but it was too late, cause the cars were obsolete in design.

    The cost of racing saw Ferrari s road car division sell out to Fiat in 1969 cause the cost of modern racing has seriously hurt the Scuderia. Enzo always said that he was producing so called "road cars" only to pay the racing bills.

    Agreement with Fiat left Enzo in full control over Scuderia Ferrari, and Fiat money to spend on racing. The deal was called in "In Vitalizzio", which meant Fiat paid Ferrari shares, and a lifetime rent every month to Enzo himself. If he had no choice but to sell to Fiat, crafty old devil Enzo lived to be 90, a long enough time to rob Agnelli of enormous sums of money.

    F1 racing of the late 40ties saw Ferrari’s small-block Colombo V12 engine in its 1.5liter supercharged form. That was Scuderia’s top gun, but still came some 70Hp short of Alfa Romeos 158,159 Alfettas. Enzo Ferrari ordered Colombo block to be enlarged to fit bores and strokes up to 5.0liters,which was not possible with the original design. Crafty old devil Enzo took another path to glory in F1 racing, through a large 4.5liter normally aspirated engine, which FIA's formula rules allowed at that time.

    New engine was designed by Aurelio Lampredi, and its block came out 10cm longer then original Colombo, and that engine would be used in most of Ferrari road going cars well into the 70ties.The original small block was an engineering masterpiece, well ahead of its time but displayed its edgy temper in traffic conditions and was prone to overheating when not in full burst well over 5000rpm. F1 cars of that time used alcohol-based fuels and compression ratio of the new F1 Cavallino went as high as 12.8-1, with dual ignition heads engine poked out some 405horses. In July of 1951 at Donnington Park Scuderia’s new rocket scored its maiden victory, the one which Enzo commented as "killing my own mother", Alfa Romeo. Alberto Ascari drove 4.5 litre Lampredi powered Ferrari at 1952 Indy's 500, and was moving up the order when his right rear wheel collapsed, thus ending the only Scuderia outing at that event. Enzos mind was always set on racing and Lampredi engine has shown Scuderia at its finest in the events such as Carrera Panamericana, gruelling road race in the US and Mexico.

    This powerplant was plugged in the fastest road going cars of that time, Ferrari’s 400, 412 America and SuperAmerica (built in 60ties) Racing and test drivers actually preferred racing the original small block, and complained about the Lampredi "being too powerful, too brutal with the sound that begged for more throttle". What usually happened next was that Ferrari suspension cried out "I cant take it anymore", or events such as testers from the US sports car mag, hopping from a MG in an unsuspecting 412 America, flooring it only to blow the rear axle assembly. The mighty V12 was just too much an engine for that. Enzo waved his hand on these complaints and always said that one must never lose respect for the machinery it commands, and was not a sort of man that liked criticism anyway.

    Toward the end of the 60ties racing tech advancements created enormous costs and a huge gap between sports cars and racing cars was created. No one in their right mind at time would build a road going car and expect it to win races such as Le Mans, Daytona, Sebring etc.

    Well no one but Enzo, and in 1969 he unveiled the 365GTB(gran turismo berlinetta)..................

    Enzo was a stubborn and proud man, he always spoke of Porsches as souped up WV Beetles, and his attitude was the reason why Feruccio Lamborghini started making sports cars. Poor old Feruccio (tractor manufacturer at that time) came to Enzos office and wanted to buy himself a Ferrari. Enzo kept him waiting for hours and sent him away with comment that "paesano" Lamborghini doesn’t need a car such as Ferrari.

    I guess it came as no surprise that 365GTB at the start of the 70ties was a roadgoing/competition Cavallino with big Lampredi (seriously revised, with 4 over-head cams) in front and your Enzos usual rear drive "horse pulls, not pushes" conception. Scuderia never raced these rockets (some well tuned examples just touched the 200mph), but that didn’t stop the privateers from winning sports car category in its class at Le Mans 72, 73, 74 Tour d France 72, and Daytona of 72 and 75. An article about 365 daytonaGTB said "Gentleman drivers loved it, since it inspired all those that move men to attempt heroic, irrational deeds. Daytona (365gtb) at full flight was a sight to behold, mean looking, weavin dramatically on its overworked suspension, shaking under heavy barking, literally pushing air and dust aside, making its own weather, beautifully loud as hell, scatterin all to the four winds".

    This leads us at the start of the modern era of racing and the F1 of todays. Ferrari battled with its boxer 12 cylinder in F1 of the 70ties with the likes of Lauda behind the wheel, (winning 3 F1WCs) That boxer engine got its road going fuel-injection (bye, bye carbs) 4valve per cylinder version that powered 512BB,Testarossa, and subsequently 512TR of the 80ties.The era of romantic racing and race cars sold to public was long gone. That fact made the Ferrari aura, cause it was the only car maker that has done that. Manufacturing and selling cars was never quite Enzos cup of tea, but only means to an end which was racing passion. The car that revived the glory days was 1987 F40.

    2.9 litre twin turbo V8 poked up to 480Hp in road version. The car really brought few tears into eyes of Tifosi when it raced with pride the ultra-modern purpose built racers such as McLaren BMW F1 in the 90ties,and took home few astonishing victories (Anderstorp, Sweden being one of them).

    Enzo Ferrari died in 1988 and wasn’t able to witness the history of GT glory repeating itself. In the mid 90ties Ferrari have placed another race bred V12 on the roads in the wake of the F50, mid engined F1 look-alike monster, but only few of these were made. Currently, top gun of road going Ferraris is F550 Maranello, and Enzo may have gotten his last laugh. That car has a 5.5liter big V12 in front and rear drive, so "the horse is still pushing the cart well into the 21st century".

    Thanks to all those who took the time to read these novels of posts.