Another essay was about Ferruccio Lamborghini, who combined the Italian desire for fashion and modern design into a classic automobile that took the world by storm. This month, in keeping with our focus on Italian 20th-century contributions to luxury and design, we look at another automaker, Enzo Ferrari, who worked to build a stylish racing automobile that combined design with speed. He was an Italian motor racing driver and entrepreneur, the founder of the Scuderia Ferrari Grand Prix motor racing team, and subsequently of the Ferrari automobile company. He was widely known as “il Commendatore” or “il Drake.” In his final years he was often referred to as “l’Ingegnere” (The Engineer) or “il Grande Vecchio” (the Great Old Man). Ferrari’s cars became synonymous with hair-raising power and acceleration, precise high-speed handling and fabulous exclusivity and expense. While Detroit cranked out millions of cars every year, Ferrari averaged about 1,000 a year since its 1947 beginning—with slightly higher production in recent years. Some were racing cars, while others were playthings that sold for more than $100,000. They could break speed limits in first gear and reach speeds approaching 200 miles per hour. All this came with a lack of interior comfort for driver and passenger in his commercial automobiles (something Lamborghini criticized him about). This February 18 would have been Enzo Ferrari’s 119th birthday, so it is appropriate, I think, to focus on this automobile racing and entrepreneur of the 20th century.
CELEBRATED: Automaker, Italian racecar driver and entrepreneur