Enzo Ferrari was born in Modena Italy on February 18 1898. He came from a well to do family that owned a metal foundry making railroad parts, they were the first in his town to own a car. When WWI came Enzo’s father and brother (Dino) were drafted into the Italian army, whom both died from influenza in 1916. Enzo was forced to leave school to run the foundry, when the business collapsed he started work as a metalworker at the Modena Fire Brigade workshop in order to support his widowed mother. Enzo himself was later drafted into the Italian army where he worked shoeing mules for the mountain artillery, after a few months he becomming seriously ill and was released from the military. Not interested in going back to shcool and against his mothers will, he found work as a test driver in Turin in late 1918. Enzo then moved to Milan to work at CMN (Costruzioni Maccaniche Nazionali) as a racing car driver. His first real race came in the 1919, the Parma-Berceto, he then entered the Targa Florio that same year.
Enzo then founded Scuderia Ferrari, (literally means Ferrari Stable) who were mainly sponsers and trainers for Alfa Romeo. He was officially hired by Alfa Romeo as head of their racing department in 1938, then in 1940, upon learning of the company’s plan to take control of his beloved Scuderia, he quit Alfa. Since he was prohibited by contract from racing for several years, the Scuderia briefly became Auto Avio Costruzioni Ferrari, which ostensibly produced machine tools and aircraft accessories for Piaggio and RIV as Italy was gearing up for WWII. Ferrari did in fact produce one race car, the Tipo 815, in the non-competition period; it was thus the first actual Ferrari car, but due to the war it saw little competition.
In 1943 the Ferrari factory moved to Maranello, where it has remained ever since. The factory was bombed in 1944 due to making machines for ball bearing production, it was rebuilt in 1946 to include a works for road car production. The first Ferrari road car was the 1947 125 S, powered by a 1.5-litre V12 engine; Enzo reluctantly built and sold his automobiles to fund the Scuderia.
Since then, company cars, driven by the best drivers, have racked up over 5,000 successes on race tracks and roads all over the world, creating a legend. The most important achievements have been 9 Formula 1 Drivers’ World titles, 14 Manufacturers’ World titles, 8 Formula 1 Constructors’ World Championships, 9 wins at the Le Mans 24 Hours race, 8 at the Mille Miglia, 7 at the Targa Florio, and, up to the end of 1997, 113 wins in Formula 1 Grands Prix.
While¬ Enzo’s beautiful and blazingly fast cars quickly gained a reputation for excellence, Enzo maintained a famous distaste for his customers, most of whom he felt were buying his cars for the prestige and not for racing. Ferrari has long been one of the ultimate toys for the rich and young (or young-at-heart). Ferrari cars feature highly-tuned small V8 and V12 engines, often in a mid-engined configuration. But until the introduction of fuel injection in the 1980s, they were quite temperamental and were dificult to maintain. Before the mid 1980s they carried a reputation for unreliability and bad engineering, though these were written off by enthusiasts as “character.” Ferrari owners have famously and religiously defended the merits of their cars while virulently criticizing other brands.
In 1969, to meet growing market demand, Enzo Ferrari sold 50% of the share capital to the Fiat Group, and investment that increased to 90% in 1988. In spite of this Ferrari has always maintained a strong autonomy, thanks to its specialist activities.
Enzo Ferrari died in Modena on August 14, 1988. As of the writing of this article, FIAT owns 56% of Ferrari, Mediobanca owns 15%, Commerzbank AG owns 10%, Lehman Brothers owns 7%, and Enzo’s son Piero Ferrari owns 10%.