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Posted by portugalpress on August 31, 2017
125S was the first Ferrari ever built
F1 drivers used to call Enzo The Old Man
F40 is Ferrari’s greatest modern icon
GT cars win races almost every week
Maranello factory
Michael Schumacher won 5 consecutive F1 titles from 2000 to 2004 with the Scuderia
Sebastian Vettel’s dream was to drive for Ferrari
There are 15 GTOs in this picture or roughly 750 million dollars

Ferrari turns 70 this year. It still builds the world’s greatest cars and it currently leads the F1 World Championship. Enzo would be proud.

I remember being 10 or 11 years old and standing on the street with my dad, waiting for the light to turn green so we could cross. Next to us, another father and son, roughly the same age, were doing just the same. A red Hyundai S Coupé went by and the kid, filled with an instant shot of adrenaline, shouted to his dad: look papa, a Ferrari.

Man, how I wanted to beat that kid up right there and then. A red car with two doors and you think it’s a Ferrari?

However, it is clear today that that kid is a reflection of Ferrari’s unique place in our culture and how deep within the collective mind Ferrari has gotten in the past 70 years. Red, two doors, low-slung, it must be a Ferrari.

If a Ferrari does, indeed, pass by, you can be sure the world around it stops. People stare, point, do funny faces, weird gestures and turn on their camera phones as fast as their lives depend on it. Yes, the same thing happens if a Lamborghini goes by, or a McLaren, but half the people staring will think it’s a Ferrari, just like that kid.

Enzo Ferrari came from a poor Modenese family and was the younger of two children. His father Alfredo had a metal workshop (today the site of Casa Museo Enzo Ferrari). Enzo served at the First World War and was discharged from the army in 1918 due to a serious case of flu that almost took his life. His father and brother had died two years earlier from an outbreak of the same disease.

That caused the family business to go bankrupt and Enzo returned from the war in search of a job in the car industry. Being rejected by FIAT, he took a position at CMN – Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazionali – rebuilding old trucks into small family cars. He was soon promoted to racing driver and made his debut on a local hillclimb in 1919, aged 21.

His talents behind the wheel led to a call from Alfa Romeo’s racing department and he joined the team in 1920. His greatest victory came at the Coppa Acerbo, at the town of Pescara, in 1924.

In 1929, already leading Alfa Romeo’s racing efforts from a managerial role, he founded Scuderia Ferrari and progressively built one of the strongest teams the world has ever seen, which included the best drivers of the time: Campari, Varzi and Nuvolari, among many others.

The partnership ended in 1939 and Ferrari – forbidden by his severance package from building cars with his own name for four years – founded Auto Avio Costruzioni and started building cars in very small numbers on a new site in Modena. With Italy joining the fascist side of the war, Enzo’s factory was then forced to adapt its production to Mussolini’s war needs.

Eventually the factory was bombed and Enzo relocated to a small village to the south of Modena called Maranello and founded yet another company, this time bearing his own name: Ferrari S.p.A. The rest, as they say, is history.

Two-hundred-and-twenty-eight race victories in Formula One. Fifteen Drivers Championships. Sixteen Constructors Championships. The most successful outfit in the history of the sport. Let’s not forget there’s also nine Le Mans 24 Hours overall wins, seven out of the first nine World Sports Cars Championships trophies and every other week some kind of race win in a myriad of categories that exist today for GT cars.

As for road cars, Enzo started building them so he could fund his racing efforts, but it turns out he was pretty good at that too. Let’s see: one of 36 first series’ Ferrari 250 GTO is currently for sale at 52 million dollars. When sold, it will become the most expensive car in the world, a record belonging to another GTO sold in 2015 for 38 million.

Yes, this is the most expensive Ferrari of them all, but dozens of models reach 10 to 15 million levels every year and even new cars are traded in for double their selling price within two or three months. The 2014 LaFerrari is a case in point. Launched for 1.4 million, it got to 2.5 million in a couple of months and is now being sold around the 4 million mark.

With only around 200,000 Ferraris built in 70 years – less than Porsche builds every year – the Italian brand’s influence in the whole industry is as big as its production output is small. This control of supply over demand is something only a handful of companies ever achieved. Profits are at an all-time high and Ferrari is in rude health. Why? Because passion. Because beauty. Because performance. Because it still manages to combine its history with cutting-edge technology, it still manages to demonstrate a link between the car with which Sebastian Vettel is leading the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship with the one for sale at the showroom. Because it still manages to make five-year-olds hang a thing as old-fashioned as a paper poster on their bedroom wall.

In a world dominated by the intangible – the internet, social networks, globalized stock and currency markets – where everyday objects are getting more and more disposable so we can always have new things, a Ferrari is certainly not just a car anymore. With electric vehicles taking over and the internal combustion engine being blamed for destroying the planet, the car is becoming little more than a vehicle for getting from A to B in perfect safety without compromising too many natural resources.

A Ferrari, then, is more of an artistic creation. You cannot blame the 8,000 units Ferrari currently builds every year for killing sea lions on the Arctic, not if you are trying to make any sense.

Also true, however, is the fact that no one really needs one as a tool for mobility. A Volkswagen Golf is a better product for that.

And yet, is there a greater object of desire in the whole world? Just ask the guy who will soon pay 52 million for entering the most exclusive club in the world, that of a 250 GTO owner, or the other one who spent his only 40,000 in a Mondial, currently the cheapest Ferrari available second hand.

I am with them both. I love Ferrari and often wonder what I would do, even who I would have become without the motivation to have one in my life. Enzo Ferrari never thought about that in 1947, how his cars would shape people’s lives seven decades on, but it is clear to me he is the man who, after my father, has had the biggest influence in my life, however involuntary it might have been. A man I shared the planet with for only three years and whom I could never have known personally. But I do know his cars and his legend and I can promise him this: my kids will never mistake a Hyundai for a Prancing Horse, Mr. Ferrari.

By Guilherme Marques

Photos: FERRARI S.p.A.