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WHAT BETTER ART VENUE than Florence. And what a fine topic in “The Idea Ferrari.” This exhibition, June 8-September 30, 1990, was set with the help of Ferrari North America and its dealership network. I’ve gleaned the following fascinating photos and commentary from L’Idea, the catalog of this exhibition.
Gianni Rogliatti begins, “Rarely, if ever, has the history of a company been so closely linked to the life of its founder as in the case of Ferrari. Ever since 1946, when the company designed its first car, all the technical and commercial decisions were influenced by the wishes of one man: Enzo Ferrari.”
Even Before His Own Marque. As a young man, Ferrari found fulfilling employment with Alfa Romeo, first as a mechanic, later as a race driver, then in 1929, establishing Scuderia Ferrari.
Rogliatti says of Scuderia Ferrari, he “aimed at organizing Gentleman drivers into a team so as to make it easier for them to compete in motor races.” Ferrari also persuaded Italy’s top automotive designer, Vittorio Jano, to move from Fiat to Alfa Romeo, “to design racing cars which have since become legends.”
A First Le Mans Victory (Of Many). On its first outing on April 4, 1948, the Ferrari 166 S Sport scored a victory in the Giro di Sicilia. The next year, Luigi Chinetti and Peter Mitchell-Thompson, Lord Selsdon drove a 166 to victory in the first post-war running of the Le Mans 24-hour race.
Private entrant/co-driver Selsdon was ailing, and Chinetti piloted the car for all but 72 minutes of the 24 hours. Indeed, this was 47-year-old Chinetti’s third Le Mans victory and the reverse of his first win in 1932 (when he had been ill and Raymond Sommer did more than 20 hours of the driving).
A Coachbuilder’s View. Sergio Pininfarina writes, “I am lucky enough to remember that afternoon in 1951 when my father was driving back to Turin from Tortona in his B20, with me at his side. In Tortona we had met Enzo Ferrari in a restaurant and, over lunch, we discussed the terms of a possible partnership.”
“Both Ferrari and my father were proud men and neither had wanted to give the other the privilege of playing host. So they decided to meet half-way.”
In fact, the partnership that evolved was very much along similar lines. The coachbuilder retained freedom and incentive working with a young company like Ferrari. And Ferrari “was like a king without a crown and my father’s great idea was to give it an image and a personality of its own.”
Pininfarina produced stunning coachwork for the 1964 Ferrari Superfast 500. Its nomenclature suggests the engine’s 5.0-liter displacement. Other Ferraris like the 330, for example, cite the displacement of individual cylinders (3967 cc/12 = 330 cc).
The wooden buck dictated contours of aluminum pieces to be attached to the car’s tubular-steel underlying superstructure. I’m tempted to invoke the word Superleggera, but actually this is a trademarked term of another Ferrari coachbuilder, Touring.
Carrozzeria Touring. Valerio Moretti writes on the evolution of Ferrari form: “In 1940 Carrozzeria Touring had been responsible for the bodywork of the 815, the first car built by Enzo Ferrari after his break with Alfa Romeo.”
Moretti continues, “Between 1949 and 1951 Touring was practically a synonym of Ferrari. Though naturally not an exclusive relationship, the special character Carrozzeria Touring managed to bestow on the two basic Ferrari models [the open barchetta (‘little boat”) and coupe berlinetta] was so distinctive that its effects were long-lasting and influenced all the other coachbuilders who were later asked to try their hand at the same theme.”
A Concluding Catalogue. A 12-page Catalogue in L’Idea Ferrari shows photos and brief details of the marque’s road and racing machines from the 1947 125 C Sport to the 1990 641 Formula One car.
What great browsing. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022