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The Maestro Of Luxury

For seventy prosperous years, Ferrari have worked wonders in an uncanny but enviously tasteful manner. The remarkable thing is in how the entire world doesn’t just lust after Ferrari’s classy exotic cars, no. Every person that so much as speaks the language of luxury, recognises the name as they would Shakespeare to English, Einstein to Science and Elvis to Music. It is a tale that goes beyond its own product even, one that began with one man’s passion for racing and now surges on into the future relentlessly, waiting on no trend and bowing to no conformity.

Ferrari… Name me a person who has never heard of the legendary name, and I will show you a person who has never dared to dream gloriously big. There is no way you can go through the hearty journey of life without ever once, hearing the name. With its unprecedented method for pure excellence, Ferrari has gone on to form the very definition of luxury for 70 years now and no one can dispute the brand’s impact on modern civilization.

Here’s a thought to paint a picture of just how ridiculous the brand’s appeal can be: Imagine for a moment if you can, that you have the combined wealth of Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, and yet, there’d still be a possibility that you might not be able to be one of the lucky owners of the LaFerrari Aperta.

Yes, a 176.5-billion-dollar wealth pool does not guarantee that you can have this Ferrari stowed away in your fancy mansion garage. No Sir and Madame, it is not possible, unless Ferrari invited you to buy one of the 209 units of the convertible version of the “definitive” Ferrari. The only other way to get your hands on the amazing car is to probably buy over Ferrari N.V. and even that, might not be the easiest bit of business you’ll ever manage because their Chairman, Sergio Marchionne has stated that the company “is worth at least 10 billion Euros” and I don’t think it will be on sale any time soon seeing as the Italian company just cranked out 8,014 units the whole of 2016.

You see, you can’t just buy into Ferrari’s kingdom like you could a designer bag or a limited timepiece.

One must be worthy of Ferrari’s lifestyle. Like all great empires of the past, if you barge in uninvited, you will be arrogantly shown the door. Call it snobbish, but according to a recent article by Forbes, they’re the fourth most powerful brand, behind only Lego, Google and Nike this 2017. That it is the only luxury brand in that Top 10 list published back in February this year is no surprise at all. Ferrari is also the only car manufacturer in that top ten list too. I’m not one to buy into mainstream media propaganda, but to disagree with the experts from Forbes is pure folly.

The more I researched and delved into Ferrari’s 70 years of life, I began to see the remarkable synergy of the arts and sciences merging in one, unique brand. Right from their ridiculously wicked V12 supercars all the way to that iconic Prancing Horse logo that creates goosebumps on the pitlanes of race circuits the world over, it’s as if Ferrari was conceived high up in the Heavens. It has been on similar rankings by the Brand Finance list now for the last few years, showcasing a consistency that only the Italian marque can produce. 

The reasons vary of course, how such a small company has managed to stay exclusive, relevant and in charge for seven decades but I would put it down to just one man’s vision and passion – Enzo Anselmo Ferrari.

Born in 1898 on the outskirts of little Modena on February 18, young Enzo was destined for a life of machine, success and perfection. Enzo’s father owned a small metal engineering company employing around 30 people which built bridges and roofs for the state railways. At 10 years of age, Enzo and his brother Alfredo were brought by their father to watch a race at the motor racing circuit on Via Emilia in Bologna. Enzo watched in pure fascination as Felice Nazzaro went on to win that race. It was the sight of victory and the ensuing euphoria of a success on track that took hold of young Enzo forever. It was there, in that moment in the early 1900’s that he found the seeds of his motorsports passion.

Tragically though for Enzo, he was dealt a heavy blow by life in 1916 when a double tragedy occurred in the passing of his father and dear brother Alfredo. With that, the budding young scholar gave up his studies and went to work as an instructor in the lathing school at the fire service workshop in Modena. He would then end up serving in the Italian army during the First World War in the 3rd Alpine Artillery Division. However, he became seriously ill and underwent two operations before being honourably discharged from duty and service by his beloved Italy.

Upon regaining his health two years later, Enzo Ferrari attempted to get a job with Fiat in Turin but to no avail. At the end of 1918, he did, however, find work as a test-driver at a small company in Turin that built the much-sought after Torpedos, all built on a light truck chassis. A year later, Enzo moved to Milan, working for C.M.N (Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazionali), first as a test-driver and then later, as a racing driver, achieving his childhood dream of getting behind the hot-seat of a racecar. He made his competitive debut in the 1919 Parma-Poggio di Berceto hillclimb race in which he finished fourth in the 3.0-litre category at the wheel of a 2.3-litre 4-cylinder CMN 15/20.
That November, Enzo would compete in his first endurance run at the Targa Florio, a famous race held in Sicily near Palermo, only to suffer defeat after his car’s fuel tank developed a leak. He would go on to finish in second place in the same race a year later driving a 6-litre 4-cylinder Alfa Romeo Tipo 40/60. It was from that podium finish that would go on to carve a two-decade collaboration between Ferrari and Alfa Romeo. Enzo Ferrari would
do everything from test-driving to racing to dealing, before finally being appointed head of the Alfa Corse racing division, a position he held until September 1939. 
In all of those 20 years, Enzo Ferrari would participate in several races as an official Alfa driver, delivering some impressive finishes; 5th place in the Targa Florio 1921, 2nd place at Mugello 1921 and 1st place at the debut Circuito del Savio 1923.

It was in that winning race where he would meet a certain Count Baracca. The Count was the father of a famous Italian First World War pilot, Francesco Baracca. It was through this meeting that Enzo later met Countess Baracca and it was in their lighter conversations that led to the makings of one of the most iconic symbols in human history; she handed him a signed photograph and invited him to use her son’s Prancing Horse emblem as a mascot and good-luck charm on his cars.

With Lady Luck smiling on the first Prancing Horses, more racetrack victories would follow after this at  the Circuito di Modena that would culminate in the naming of a famous racing team that is part of the racing fabric of today even- Scuderia Ferrari, a racing stable founded under the arms of Alfa Romeo, with an aim to allow owner-drivers to compete. The Scuderia fielded both cars (mainly Alfas) and motorbikes.

In time, the venture morphed with Commendatore Enzo at the helm, to becoming a technical-racing outpost of Alfa Romeo. His growing role and functions with Scuderia then saw him complete his final race in 1931. His choice to walk away from the hot-seat wasn’t just an executive decision; Enzo was giving up racecars because of the impending birth of his son Alfredo, or ‘Dino’.

From then, with Enzo fully in-charge of Alfa Romeo’s racing arm, Scuderia Ferrari designed and produced the Alfa Romeo 158 “Alfetta” which is a legend in its own right, a famous Alfa that went on to dominate the international racing scene. This led to Enzo taking up a new position as head of Alfa Corse and moving to Milan in 1938. A year later, being an unrelenting and driven man by nature, Enzo Ferrari decided to leave Alfa Romeo under the proviso that he did not use the Ferrari name in association with races or racing cars for at least four years. From that moment on, beating Alfa Romeo became the Italian’s biggest of passions.

As such, Ferrari then opened Auto Avio Costruzioni on Viale Trento Trieste in Modena, the headquarters of the old Scuderia Ferrari. Come the year 1940, Auto Avio Costruzioni built two versions of what Enzo Ferrari called the 815 (8 cylinders, 1500 cc) on a Fiat platform for the last pre-War Mille Miglia, driven by a young Alberto Ascari and Marquis Lotario Rangoni Machiavelli of Modena. At the very height of the War in 1943, Auto Avio Costruzioni would then move out of Modena to Maranello where the first part of what would later become the Ferrari factory was built to place an emphasis on building his own racecars.

This iconic first factory felt the tremors of the War on November 1944, getting hit by wayward bombs yet again the following February but it was quickly rebuilt for Enzo Ferrari had other plans to propel his racing endeavors further. By 1945, Ferrari began work on designing the first road-going Ferrari with a ridiculous but ambitious plan is to power it with a V12 engine because of his view that a V12 engine was versatile to use on sports prototypes as single-seaters and even Grand Tourers. 

Two years later, on March the 12th 1947, Enzo Ferrari drove out from the doors of Maranello with his first, hand-built Ferrari, now known as the legendary and iconic 125 S, for its first test-drive on the open road. Having won its first Mille Miglia in 1948, its first Le Mans 24 Hour Race in 1949 and itsfirst Formula 1 World Championship Grand Prix in 1951, Ferrari became World Champions for first time in 1952 thanks to Alberto Ascari who repeated this feat the following year.

By the time the revolutionary era of the 60’s dawned, Enzo Ferrari and his beloved car company were already a very valuable brand but the Italian visionary that was Enzo Ferrari became aware that he required a powerful partner if the company was to continue to develop. This led to a signed agreement with the Fiat Group, giving it a 50% stake in the company shares. It was from these new resources that Enzo then decided to build the now famous, Fiorano Circuit which officially opened on April 8th 1972. Ever since then, not a single Ferrari has left Maranello without its hoofs ever going through Fiorano’s challenging race-course, designed to put each facet of a Ferrari through the most rigorous of testing for road-worthiness. The man and the legend would be involved in the makings of his last Ferrari come the late 1980’s in the form of the amazingly-built F40. In 1987, with a world-famous brand, company and racing team to his name, Enzo Ferrari passed away a true legend at the grand old age of 90 on August 14th.

The man was nothing short of brilliant and stubbornly determined with his racing passion. That he held honorary degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Physics from Bologna University and University of Modena respectively, says much about how his striving for mechanical excellence through his cars and engines were not left unnoticed. Why though, is it important to know this man’s history to understand how Ferrari is the very definition of luxury?

If you go over the history, the races, his various achievements and the steady rise of Ferrari over the last seven decades, you will notice how there was never a moment when Enzo Ferrari rested on his laurels while he was alive. Yes, I’m sure he would’ve taken a few holidays with his family from time to time, but there was never an era or time, when Mr. Ferrari was caught being complacent. He constantly pushed the boundaries of his art, engine after engine, race after race, car after car. His love for racing and engineering perfection is at the core of how Ferrari has managed to influence and inspire the rest of the world for so long and yet, Ferrari’s are not just like other exotic cars that look good on the walls of a young kids in posters. No. Take a dusty old mop from your musty old storage room, and place that iconic Prancing Horse logo onto it, and it will suddenly have more value than some decent looking houses even. That’s how much value Ferrari’s symbol has and in fact, the most expensive car in history to date is the GT Championship-winning 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, which was sold in a private transaction for US$38.1 million to American communications magnate Craig McCaw. Peer over similar lists across the internet and you will see how each list will have at least 2-3 vintage Ferrari’s on it. That is the intrinsic value that is laced onto any Ferrari, its deep racing heritage, and where there are races, there are racers, where there are racers, there are winners and losers.

Ferrari is a relentless winner. This is how they’ve climbed to the very top, dragging the whole luxury mantle along with its achievements. During my teenage years even, it was impossible not to know the name Michael Schumacher and Ferrari, a combination that spanned a tremendously successful decade, between 1996 to 2016.

In that period, Ferrari won an astonishing 72 Grand Prix races, not only making it the most successful period in Scuderia Ferrari’s history, but also making Ferrari the most successful Formula 1 team of all time, holding themost Constructors’ Championships (16) and having produced the highest number of winning drivers (15) to date. That was how I learnt of the name, from the grueling races we all watched on our teles and read about on the back section of newspapers. Ferrari was and is to me, a deadly and consistent winner and it only made their production series supercars appeal all the more to me because they were the fruits of a conquest on track. It baffles me to learn how Enzo Ferrari did not intend to make sportscars initially. The legend goes that he was quite reluctant but his hand was forced by circumstances to find a way to fund his early racing teams. It is only out of necessity that the modern Ferrari sports cars of today came to be since that first 125 S.

The earlier Brand Finance List I mentioned indirectly also tells us how the names on it got there; Lego remains a huge part of almost every child who grew up in a decent urban upbringing, encouraging creative thinking and problem solving; Google, remains at the very core of our current internet age, the most-used search engine in the world that has made education accessible, information attainable and has gone on to become a huge influence on this digital age; Nike has gone from that simple mistake of a ‘Swoosh’ symbol to becoming the benchmark of all sports apparel forevermore. Similarly, Ferrari has undoubtedly impacted this world to even larger extents, by innovating the automobile to dizzying levels; think La Ferrari and the potentials that are possible in the near future.

Every Ferrari that has come out of Modena and Maranello have been special and they will only get more amazing surely. Like some of the greatest revolutions in our modern history, Ferrari’s tale is one that started with one individual, a visionary to most, an engineer to many but an artist to all. That is what a maestro does in the end; he conducts the choir and cues the musicians in such precise arrangements to produce music that captivates his audience for a lifetime. That is what Enzo Ferrari started seventy years ago; a titanic recipe for excellence built on his passion. 
Through the sheer romance of his art form, Enzo Ferrari has inspired the automotive industry, lifestyle, science and most importantly, people like me, to one day have my own Prancing Horse of my own, and God knows, it will require the best version of myself to achieve that goal. That I believe is why Ferrari define the very essence of luxury- it is that undying zeal and passion for raw excellence. Pursue excellence like Enzo Ferrari did and we too might emulate his craft of the highest human order. It is that inner thirst to perfect what you love and live for, and that is something all the wealth in the world cannot purchase. It is earned and honed, a commitment to constantly strive for greatness, something Ferrari is still doing today. 

Mark my words, they will have reached the doors of tomorrow before all of us, standing by it and waiting to welcome us with more innovative Prancing Horses to continue to set the world ablaze as the true maestro of luxury.
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