75 Years by Dennis Adler

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Editor’s Note: In Dennis Adler’s new book, Ferrari: 75 Years, he tells the story of nearly a century of motorsports history from the perspective of one of the industry’s most famous automakers. Martin Raffauf reviewed this exhaustive and thorough chronicle below, providing a summary of key points and a closer look at some of the iconic cars it features.

75 Years of Ferrari History Summarized

Ferrari is an iconic company—one of the most recognized brand names in the world. It was started in 1947 by Enzo Ferrari when he built the first car with the Ferrari name on it. He had spent the pre-war (World War II) years racing Alfa Romeos and preparing cars for various people under the banner of Scuderia Ferrari, his racing team. Post war, he decided to form his own organization.

Upon his return to Modena after World War 2, Ferrari explained his decision to start his own firm:

“My Return to Modena […] represented […] an attempt to prove to myself and others that, during the twenty years I was with Alfa Romeo, not all my reputation was second-hand and gained by the efforts of others. The time had come for me to see how far I could get by my own efforts.”

In the beginning, he focused mainly on racing—only building road cars for sale to generate revenue for racing. Eventually, he would prove the axiom, “win on Sunday, sell on Monday.”

The racing successes generated increased demand for road cars. Over the years, much of it just could not be met by the limited production facilities available. Even today, reported large deposits still generate long lead times to actually get a Ferrari car.

Enzo Ferrari in the 1920s raced Alfa Romeos with some success, then formed a team to race Alfas for customers. The team was Scuderia Ferrari.
Enzo Ferrari supervising V12 engine assembly in the 1950s
Enzo Ferrari supervising V12 engine assembly in the 1950s.

Enzo was a smart and cagey businessman. Over the years, he hired the best people he could, including the likes of Carlo Chiti, Vittorio Jano, Mauro Forghieri, Gioachino Colombo and others.

It was the same when hiring drivers. Throughout the years, many champions have driven Ferrari cars, including Alberto Ascari, Juan Manuel Fangio, Mike Hawthorn, Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, John Surtees, Jacky Ickx, Mario Andretti, Niki Lauda, Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, and Sebastian Vettel.

Black and white photo of Luigi Villoresi winning 1951 Mille Miglia in Ferrari 340 America
Luigi Villoresi wins the 1951 Mille Miglia in a Ferrari 340 America. The Mille was a 1000-mile open road race through Italy. It was banned in 1957 after a bad accident killed spectators.

The history was, at times, turbulent. During the 1950s, racing produced quite a number of fatalities at the track via accidents. Enzo reportedly told drivers, “win or die, you will become immortal.”

Ferrari was a master at getting the most out of his people. Many drivers and employees did in fact become immortal in the 75-year history of the company.

In the 1960s, monetary issues forced Enzo to look into the potential sale of Ferrari. There was the famous interlude with Ford in the 1960’s, made famous by the recent film, “Ford vs Ferrari”. 1969 saw a partial sale of 50% of the company to Fiat. Fiat in later years, increased their stake to 90%.

Ferrari’s early racing success was complimented by a succession of stunning road cars:

Highlighted Cars from Ferrari: 75 Years

The following panorama highlights some of our favorite cars of the 75 years covered in the book:

250 Ferrari Testa Rosa
The 250 Ferrari Testa Rosa.
250 Ferrari GTO
The 250 Ferrari GTO
Steve McQueen with his 1963 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso
Steve McQueen with…

…Read more.