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Bring on the Prancing Horse – The Story of Ferrari

Cars
Bring on the Prancing Horse – The Story of Ferrari

What better symbol of a person having arrived to the big time can you have than by driving around in a Ferrari sports car? The sleek look and the sweet sound of its engine are more than enough to announce to the world the wealthy lifestyle you have attained.

The amazing thing about it is that Ferrari actually was once only a small division of Alfa Romeo.

 

How It Started

1920 Enzo Ferrari

It started out in the late 1920s when Enzo Ferrari established Scuderia Ferrari, which literally translated to “Ferrari Stable.” The stable was based in Modena in Italy and prepared, trained and raced amateur race drivers in Alfa Romeo cars. This continued until 1938 when Alfa Romeo decided to hire Ferrari to head its motor racing division.

World War II however lay to waste all of Alfa Romeo’s plans. For one thing, Benito Mussolini’s Fascist government confiscated the car manufacturer’s entire plant, as it was needed to help Italy’s war efforts. Fortunately for Ferrari, his group was still too small to be affected. He was however barred from racing for four years because of his contract with Alfa Romeo.

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Before the plant got taken over, Ferrari was able to build the Tipo 815. This is now considered to be the first actual car made by Ferrari, though it was built when he was still under Alfa Romeo. The car debuted in 1940 during the Mille Miglia, but it did not see much action because of the war.

 

The Prancing Horse Unleashed

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By 1943, Ferrari already had his famous plant in Maranello. Though it was bombed to pieces by the Allies in 1944, Ferrari had it rebuilt in 1946 and it was churning out vehicles by 1947. The first road car from the plant was released in 1947. It was called the 125 Sport and featured a 1.5-liter V12 engine.

In 1950, the Formula One races were launched. Alfa Romeo dominated the first two years, though Ferrari finally won a race in the second season. By the third season, Ferrari was already dominating in style, with its drivers winning seven of the eight races.

 

Challenge from Other Supercars

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Other car makers have mounted challenges to the Ferrari dominance in both sports car racing and in Formula One. The Jaguar E-Type was released in the 1960s at the same time that Ferrari was facing internal problems with the ouster of several of its top people after a disagreement with Ferrari’s wife. Still, Ferrari weathered the storm with the release of the 250 GTO that became one of the most famous sports cars in history.

There was also a challenge from the United States with the release of the Shelby Cobra. The Shelby had a V8-powered engine and started dominating the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the late 60s. Ferrari stopped competing in this tournament in 1968 after the banning of prototypes above 3000cc.

917

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Porsche also broke through with its 917 that boasted of a 5-liter engine. That and the T33/3 of Alfa Romeo beat Ferrari in the World Championship. Ferrari regained the title in 1972 with the 312PB model. The following year, the French team of Matra took away the crown.

Ferrari rejoined Le Mans and finished in second place. It then retired from sports car racing to concentrate on Formula One.

 

From Lauda to Räikkönen

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Ferrari has been consistently dominating Formula One. It has won 15 driver’s championships and 16 constructor’s championships, the most ever in both divisions. Nikib Lauda and Jody Scheckter carried the red banner in the 70s with victories in 1975 and 1977 for Lauda and in 1989 for Scheckter. The 80s brought some disasters, with the death of Gilles Villeneuve in Belgium in 1982, the near fatal accident of Didier Pironi in Germany also in 1982 and the passing away of Enzo Ferrari in 1988. Before his death however, he was able to oversee the release of the F40.

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After signing erstwhile Benetton driver and two-time world champion Michael Schumacher in 1996, Ferrari came back in a big way by winning five straight driver’s championships from 2000 to 2004 and six straight constructor’s championships from 1999 to 2004.

Ferrari also won the constructor’s title in 2007 and 2008, with Kimi Räikkönen bagging the driver’s crown in 2007.

 

The Greatest Prancing Horses of All Time

Ferrari possesses the great combination of beauty, speed and technical prowess. While there may have been a few bad models, like the 348, most of Ferrari’s releases have become classics and collectibles.

250 GTO

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This is considered a timeless piece in sports car manufacturing because of its lethal combination of aesthetics, speed and handling. It is considered to be the greatest of all the Ferrari road cars with the ability to make even a bad driver look good.

 

365 GTB/4

 

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Just when everybody thought that mid-engine configuration would take over with the release of the Lamborghini Miura, Ferrari responded with the 365 GTB/4, a car that boasted a 4.4-liter V12 engine with four overhead cams capable of 362 horsepower. It proved that front-end configuration was not yet dead.

 

275 GTB

 

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It is considered to be the quintessential sports car of the 1960s. The car has a long, sculptured bonnet and an aggressive look to match its extraordinary elegance.

 

Enzo

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The Enzo is considered to be Ferrari’s tour de force. It is practically a Formula One car transferred technologically to the GT. The car boasts of a six-liter V12 engine capable of 660 horsepower.

 

250 SWB

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This car was the culmination of the company’s continuous development of the 250 engine and chassis during the 1950s. It was built for racing with a short wheelbase, light panels, stripped-out interiors and boosted V12 engines with large intake valves.

 

Dino

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The Dino is considered to be the most elegant and graceful Ferrari car. It feels and drives like a small vehicle with all the corners within reach.

 

F40

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This is the last model that was overseen by Enzo Ferrari. Its styling was aggressive and made use of materials and composites from the Formula One cars of Ferrari. Its V8 engine is capable of 478 horsepower. It is the first street Ferrari with a top speed of over 200 miles per hour.

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