There is probably only one individual in the history of the auto industry whose name is better known than that of Enzo Ferrari – Henry Ford. But Ford’s name and story are taught in schools and are the kind of thing children are made to learn because it’s educational and therefore good for them. They learn Ferrari’s name later, of their own free will, right after they see their first car with the prancing horse on the hood.
Il Commendatore skipped school and all formal education to work on automobiles, first being refused a job by Fiat and then campaigning Alfa Romeo race cars under the Scuderia Ferrari banner from 1929 onwards. It wasn’t until 1946 that he began to manufacture cars in his own name, and – at first – these were sports racing cars, beginning with a series of 1500cc single-seaters which marked the start of a successful and historic association between Enzo Ferrari and Grand Prix racing.
Ferrari also campaigned road racers in events like the Mille Miglia and Targa Florio, usually with such minimal bodywork as was needed to make them eligible. The 166 series, introduced in 1948, was replaced by a front engined, 3-liter V12 which was the beginning of the 250 series, a car so successful and popular that it is truly the beginning of the Ferrari legend. Up until the 250 he was an Italian manufacturer of reasonably successful race cars, but from then on he was a builder of supercars which were as fast off the track as they were on it.
The 250 Tests Rossa was the most successful of the series, carrying the Ferrari banner from 1958 to 1962, and was the basis for the elegant Pininfarina coach work which characterized the whole roadgoing series and culminated in the superb Le Mans-winning 250 GTO. While all the 250-series vehicles, whether road or race cars, are clearly identifiable as such, the GTO is the one car in the range which has captured the imagination of enthusiasts and has since become the most sought-after Ferrari ever made.
It was preceded by the 250 GT, a far sleeker and, in absolute terms, better-looking car altogether. The 250 LM was better looking still, certainly to modern eyes, with a shorter and lower hood, driver seated well forward and an engine tucked away in the trunk; this mid-engine configuration which dictates the styling of sports coupes has been proven to give more satisfactory performance and is an industry standard. The long hood, with the cockpit a long way rearward and a cut-off tail, is very much the favored styling of the fifties and sixties.
In fact the 250 series had first appeared in roadgoing form as the 1953 Europa, followed by the sleek Pininfarina 250 GT in 1956. Development work on the GTO had begun at the end of the fifties, and the car was first shown to the Press in 1962 at one of Enzo Ferrari’s traditional conferences.
Rather than a refinement of the series, the GTO was the final development, the ultimate which could be brought out of the chassis/engine combination, and it looked the part. For those who preferred their motoring with a little more compromise Ferrari built the 250 GTL (for luxury) and the 250 GTS California, representing the ultimate refinement of the 250 series; the part of the brute was left to the GTO.
Ferrari continued to make some superb GT cars for road use even though the team retired from sportscar racing in order to concentrate on Formula One. The 365 series appeared in 1967, and the luxury of its appointments demonstrated that Ferrari was looking towards the American market as a major Source of export sales. It was a 2+2 powered by a 4.4-liter V12 engine of some 352hp, and was fitted with power steering and air conditioning among other little luxuries unusual in racebred vehicles.
But even as the 365 was introduced there was a mounting excitement about a car which was as yet still in development and which didn’t appear until the Paris Salon the following year. It was christened Daytona before it had made its appearance and the name has stayed with the type ever since. When it was shown for the first time there was no doubt that it more than fulfilled the expectations of all those who had been waiting for it.
Although modern design practice was heading towards the mid-engine layout, the 365 GTB/4 had its V12 mounted resolutely at the front. However Pininfarina’s lightweight styling turned the necessarily long hood into an advantage, making it part of a long slow curve through slim screen pillars and an almost invisible rear pillar to a curved cutoff. If the styling was dramatic the performance was likewise, lifting the car to a 174mph maximum speed and making it one of the fastest road cars ever made.
It was replaced in 1973 by what was, by then, a more conventional mid-engine car, the 365 GT/BB, still using a 12-cylinder dohc engine but this time a 4.4-liter flat, Boxer, version; the other B in the car’s designation defines it as a Berlinetta. Performance for this car was as shattering as that of the Daytona, giving it too a top speed marginally less than 180mph. Styling was again by Pininfarina and it is this shape, similar to that now found in the current Ferrari production models, which is established as the shape for high-performance sportscars of the future; yet again, Ferrari had set the standard for everyone else to follow.
In 1976 the 365 was replaced by a larger-engined version of the same thing. Rated at 4.9 liters, it was given the designation 512BB, and is regarded by many as the best vehicle in production anywhere in the world. All that, though, seemed likely to change with the introduction of the 308-based GTO, a 600hp 189mph twin-turbo monster which is the fastest car ever to come out of Maranello. Also in 1985 the last roadgoing V12 was replaced by the Boxer 12, powering the newest Ferrari of them all, nostalgically to be christened the Testa Rossa.
It’s often said that if you want to be a really experienced motorist you should own at least one Ferrari in your lifetime; if that’s true, then take your choice from either of the two latest scorchers. Prices begin at a cool $80,000.
Ferrari All Car Models:-
Ferrari Enzo Reviews
Ferrari 246 GT Dino Reviews
Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Reviews
Ferrari F40 Reviews
Ferrari California Reviews
Ferrari 250 GTO Reviews
Ferrari F60 America Reviews