Stories > Six things you may not know about Ferrari
Six things you may not know about Ferrari

Six things you may not know about Ferrari

Published 2021-02-26 by Peter Ternström

In the fall of 2017, I was in Maranello. Ferrari celebrated 70 years and it was a gigantic party. The highlight was September 9 in Ferrari's hometown of Maranello.

Maranello was filled to the brim with thousands of cars and tens of thousands of fans. There was a carnival-like atmosphere in the village, with howling engines and a lot of expensive cars both driving and parked in the street. LaFerrari, F40, 288 GTO – everything was there.

It was a fantastic experience and I am a great fan of the brand. My first supercar, about 20 years ago, was a Ferrari F355. This is how Gran Turismo Events started in the early 2000s.

Few brands are as legendary as Ferrari. Much of what you hear is true, but some is definitely not. Here are six things you may not know.

1. The official brand colour of Ferrari is not red

It's yellow. That's because the city where Enzo Ferrari was born, Modena, has the colour yellow in its coat of arms. That is why the background of the Ferrari brand on the front of each car is yellow. The horse is black.

But, hey, almost every Ferrari is red? Yes, although the red colour comes from red being Italy's official racing colour. Just like Germany has silver-grey and England green – British racing green. Previously, it was customary to paint a racing car based on the nationality of the brand. Therefore, Italian cars were red, and the Ferrari and Alfa-Romeo cars were associated with the colour.

Did you know? There are fifteen shades of the official Ferrari red paint. Have ideas for a best selling novel? I'm in.

2. There are two versions of the logo

The rectangular one is for the street-legal cars. The shield is for racing cars. The shield has the two letters S and F under the horse. This stands for San Francisco. Enzo Ferrari was a hippie in the late 60s.

Just kidding, it is for Scuderia Ferrari, or "Team Ferrari". If you want the shield on your street-legal car it costs a little bit extra. It is quite uncommon to see cars without this option. Everyone wants it.

All Ferrari emblems and shields are made by the company Coinairt in Florence. This is an amazing company where we commission our Gran Turismo trophies and the red lion badge for our leather goods. Our red lion is made in the same machine as the prancing horses on the Ferrari cars.

3. What about the horse?

The horse was the symbol of the nobleman Francesco Baracca, a legendary aviator who scored many wins (for Italy) during the First World War. He had the horse painted on his aircraft.

Enzo Ferrari on one occasion met Francesco's mother during a horse race. There she asked Enzo to put the black horse on his cars, it would give him the same success in car races that Francesco had in the air.

The horse is still used in the air force today. It is the official symbol of the 9th air wing based in Grosseto in Tuscany. There is a black Ferrari horse on the Eurofighters based there.

I hope you now understand the extreme emotional sentiment many Italians have toward Ferrari and the black prancing horse. It goes way beyond cars. The prancing horse is an important part of Italian history.

3. Why are Ferrari's Cabriolets called Spider?

This is a great story. I am not sure if it is one hundred per cent true. Porsche launched its 550 Speeder at a car show in the US in the early 50s. A journalist from Italy called Turin and the Alfa factory to tell them what he had seen. The Porsche 550 Speeder was...well, somewhat misinterpreted as Spider in his home country.

This little misunderstanding over a bad telephone line across the Atlantic is the reason why almost all Italian cabriolets are called Spider. Or, maybe not. You can find a more plausible explanation following the link below.

>> Why are so many Italian cars called spider.

4. The last car Enzo Ferrari oversaw was the Ferrari F40

Then Luca di Montezemolo took over. His first project was the Ferrari F355. He created an extremely much better car than its predecessor 348. Luca di Montezemolo's time as CEO was characterized by great progress in quality and ease of use, paired with performance.

The Ferrari 360 became much less expensive to own than an F355, as you could change the cam belt from the engine bay. The engine no longer needed to be taken out, which saved enormous amounts of time and money for the owner. In the F430 they switched to a timing chain, and the car became almost as reliable as a Porsche.

Sergio to the left, Luca to the right, the horse stuck in the middle (with you).

5. Sergio Marchionne

Luca stepped down and was replaced by Sergio Marchionne. He was much more focused on revenue and quarterly results. He was extremely good at this, the Ferrari stock price has increased considerably since the introduction.

However, he has been criticized for being a little too eager to sacrifice the Ferrari brand to reach short-term profits. Ask yourself – is it perfectly okay that Ferrari's logo is on a children's crayons box you can buy in Lidl? Hm. Good question.

Sergio streamlined the production of the cars – rumours say that a 488 was considerably cheaper to produce than its predecessor 458. Furthermore, much effort was being made to standardise components. Use the same part across many models. This included engines.

This does not have to be bad at all – one of the world's best engines, the Ferrari 3.9 litre V8 with twin turbochargers – is now available in nearly all models (excluding LaFerrari). This is an amazing motor that has won the engine of the year award for many years.

Sergio Marchionne passed away in 2018. The current CEO of Ferrari is John Elkann.

6. Is Ferrari an Italian company?

The answer is, incredibly enough, no. In connection with the IPO in 2015, the company Ferrari NV in the Netherlands was registered as the parent company and owner of Ferrari SpA. Ferrari is now, at least on paper, a Dutch company.

There you go! Now you are more well informed about Ferrari than 90 per cent of your petrolhead friends. Have any more interesting facts about the brand? E-mail me, we'd love to hear from you.

Peter Ternström
peter@granturismo.org
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