Despite the immense global fascination with Ferrari, very few car enthusiasts know a lot about Ferrari's rich history and intriguing path to becoming the 12th largest car brand in the world.
Read on for some fascinating facts about the luxury Italian automaker.
Ferrari Holds Two Records for "Most Expensive Car Ever Sold"
It's no secret that becoming a classic car owner is not a cheap hobby. Vintage cars are highly sought after by a growing number of collectors with really deep pockets.
That said, one car is a cut above the rest—the Ferrari 250 GTO.
Sixty years after its racing debut at the 12 Hours of Sebring, the 250 GTO is now the single most coveted automobile ever built.
In 2018, the Ferrari 250 GTO chassis no. 3413 GT sold for $48.4 million at RM Sotheby's, gaining the record for the most expensive car sold at an auction. The classic car auction house described the car as "the world's most important, desirable, and legendary motor car."
The same year, another 250 GTO, chassis no. 4135GT, sold for a record price of $70 million in a private sale to billionaire and car collector David McNeil.
With such a stupendous price tag, it's almost impossible to imagine that the original price of a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO was $18,000 (about $165,000 today).
However, when you take into account rarity (only 36 were ever built) and an impressive win track record (won the FIA's International Championship for GT Manufacturers in its first 3 years of production 1962-1964), you see why that would be the case.
Near Century-Old Racing Legacy
Scuderia Ferrari is the most illustrious Formula One Team, having bagged 283 wins (McLaren 2nd, 182), 16 Constructors' titles and 15 Driver Championships so far. Apart from the Formula Series, Ferrari has also claimed 9 victories in 24 Hours of Le Mans.
As with most historic accomplishments, the beginnings weren't as grand.
In the late 1920s, the struggling Alfa Romeo was under pressure from the Italian government to return to profitability.
Enzo, who had been an Alfa Romeo dealer since 1921, saw a business opportunity and offered Alfa Romeo the chance to enter its cars in more racing events through his private race team, the Scuderia Ferrari.
For the next 10 years, Scuderia Ferrari raced for Alfa Romea until Enzo left and founded Auto Avio Costruzioni in 1939. The company manufactured its first Ferrari - the 125 S - in 1947, entered its first F1 competition in 1948 and won its first F1 title in 1951.
The Formula 1 world championship was established a year before in 1950 and Ferrari actually missed the opening race at Silverstone - which was won by his former boss Alfa Romeo.
Today, Ferrari's racing division wholly devotes its attention and funding to its Formula One team.
The Prancing Horse Logo was a Gift from a Countess
Ferrari's prancing horse is almost as iconic as the name itself and has become one of the most recognized logos in the world.
Before Enzo Ferrari started building some of the world's most acclaimed race cars, he was an accomplished racer himself, winning the 1924 Coppa Acerbo with Alfa Romea.
Around this time, he met Countess Paolina Baracca, who suggested he should adopt her son's Prancing Horse symbol for good luck.
Her son, Francesco Baracca, was Italy's top flying ace during World War I and had passed away a few years before. The highly accredited pilot was the original owner of the Prancing Horse emblem and was known to imprint it on the bodywork of his fighter.
Ferrari obliged her and started using the emblem on his Alfa Romeo race cars.
Fifteen years later, the first Ferrari came out of the gates of the Maranello factory with its Prancing Horse logo stamped visibly on it. The unmistakable yellow background was chosen in honor of the color of Modena, Enzo's hometown.
All Elements Of A Ferrari Sportscar Are Customizable
Selling fully customized Ferraris has become big business for this Italian carmaker since it launched its exclusive "Tailor-Made" program.
While Ferrari has long allowed customers to choose the basic features of their cars, the tailor-made program takes personalization to a whole new level. A buyer can select their preferences to the last detail from tire treads, interior trims, accessories, finishes, color hues and everything in between.
Buyers are guided through the selection process by their own Personal Designer, who is charged with guaranteeing that the cars are is unique but still consistent with the Ferrari brand and its tradition. For example. Ferrari won't paint your car pink.
The company started with a single design studio at its Maranello factory in 2011 but has since expanded with new Tailor Made Centers in Shangai (2014)and New York (2019)
These centers cater to high net worth clients who want to complete control over how their Ferrari cars turn out and are willing to pay top dollar. Once buyers make their final decision, they can expect it to take up to two years to receive their car.
Ferrari only makes about 200 to 300 bespoke cars a year, and buyers have to make a formal application for the chance to buy one!
By focusing on extraordinary vehicle design and exclusivity, Ferrari can sell luxury cars at even higher profit margins.
Enzo Almost Lost Complete Control of Ferrari.
If you read our article: The Epic History of Vehicles, you already know that the 1960s and 70s were tough for auto manufacturers.
Clean air emission requirements, new safety caps and escalating gasoline prices made it difficult for most car makers to stay afloat. Ferrari wasn't spared, and Enzo approached Ford in 1963 to buy out the firm for $18 million.
However, the idea of losing his cherished ventures led him to withdraw the offer. Instead, he sold 50% to Fiat S.p.A but got to retain 100 percent control.
Enzo Ferrari and son Piero Ferrari sold a further 40 percent to Fiat before his death in 1988.
In 2015, after restructuring the company to establish Ferrari N.V. as the holding company of the Ferrari Group, FIAT Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) sold 10% of their shares and distributed their remaining 80% of shares among FCA shareholders.
Ferrari's largest single shareholder today is Exor NV, a holding company controlled by descendants of Giovanni Agnelli, one of Fiat's original founders.
Piero Ferrari (son of Enzo) still owns his 10% stake.
Ferrari Spends Very Little on Traditional Advertising
How often do you see a Ferrari Ad on Tv? Not often, I bet! But why is this the case?
First, there is no need to advertise the brand aggressively as so many people have already known Ferrari. By avoiding too much advertisement, the brand retains the air of exclusivity.
In fact, when they were selling the Ferrari Enzo, only loyal customers that received a direct invitation from Ferrari could buy the car.
Also, print ads and TV commercials aren't the best way to reach the 1% of the population buying luxury sports cars. You'll more likely find them at International Auto shows more than in front of their TV watching luxury car ads.
But probably the most significant reason is that Ferrari pours hundreds of millions of dollars into their Scuderia Ferrari F1 racing team.
There's simply no better way to fuel the desire for the brand than a win in front of 400 million viewers.
There's Something Ferrari Sells More Than Cars
Ferrari's excellence in the racing world and luxury car sales have made the company an international symbol of wealth, prestige and supreme high performance.
That said, the stark reality is that many of its fans might never afford any of its cars.
In keeping with the entrepreneurial culture set by Enzo, Ferrari saw this as an incredible opportunity for new business with branded merchandise!
These are much more affordable luxury products that still bear the company name and logo.
Now fans can get all sorts of things from the brand on its online store and 30+ boutique stores around the globe:
- Branded apparel from tee shirts, belts to hats.
- Accessories such as watches and sunglasses.
- Car miniature models
- All sorts of gift options
Ferrari also boasts an impressive licensing program that allows third parties to put the Ferrari name everything from jewelry, video games to theme parks like the Ferrari Land in Spain.
In 2020, 11 percent of Ferrari's $3.4 B in net revenue came from its sponsorship, merchandising, licensing, and royalties. Ferrari has plans underway to get into haute cuisine and high fashion, so expect this figure to go much higher in the years to come.
Only Two 125 S Were Ever Made
Even after Enzo finally got the ball rolling with that first official Ferrari, the 12-cylinder 125 S, he didn't start mass-producing cars.
The car made its competitive debut at the Piacenza Circuit on May 11, 1947, driven by Franco Cortese.
Enzo Ferrari would later call that race "a promising failure" after fuel pump issues forced Cortese to drop out of the race while he was leading.
Once that mechanical defect was fixed, it didn't take long for the 125 S to earn legend status. The same year, it won the Rome Grand Prix at the city's Terme di Caracalla Circuit.
Sadly, only two Ferrari 125 Sport were ever made, and Ferrari dismantled both cars and used their parts to make the company's following models.
Your Ferrari Can Be Any Color You Want
Most people still overwhelmingly choose red as the color for their Ferrari -- at least 45 percent of Ferraris sold today.
Ferrari Red (Rosso Corsa) is iconic because the first Ferrari to leave the factory in Maranello was red. The International Automobile Federation required all Italian Grand Prix race cars to be red in the early days of auto racing.
Other nations also followed a similar rule in FIA events: British race cars were green and French were blue.
Would the Verde Germoglio (Ferrari Green) be as iconic if Ferrari was a British company instead? We'll never know!
That said, there is no requirement that your Ferrari be red. While the color options will often vary by model, each car still offers many hues to choose from-- as long as it is not pink or rose!
But even then they're plenty of aftermarket dealers who are willing to paint your Ferrari in pretty pink or other garish colors.
Just have in mind that this might land you on Ferrari's blacklist, which means you won't be able to buy another car from them in the future.
Ferrari Surpassed 10,000 Annual car Sales in 2019
In 2013, Ferrari decided that making too many cars was not in the company's best interests. To prevent dilution of the brand's value, the company capped annual production at just 7,000 vehicles.
The company's chairman at the time, Luca di Cordero Montezemolo, told reporters, "The exclusivity of Ferrari is fundamental for the value of our products. We made the decision to make fewer cars because otherwise, we risk injecting too many cars on the market."
However, when Sergio Marchionne took Fiat in 2014, he said the Ferrari would likely produce and sell more cars to keep up with the fast-growing population of wealthy people in the world.
Ferraris's 2019 financial statements showed that the luxury car brand sold 10,131 units surpassing the 10,000 mark for the first time in its history.
With plans in the works for the iconic Italian manufacturer's first SUV, the Ferrari Purosangue, you can be sure this figure will not be going down anytime soon.