The cavallino or prancing horse is the insignia strongly recognized as the symbol for Ferrari cars. However, the company’s founder Enzo Ferrari actually began using that symbol even before he started manufacturing cars.
The symbol was first used by the WWI pilot Francesco Baracca as an emblem on his plane’s fuselage. Enzo Ferrari later used the emblem with permission from Baracca’s parents as a tribute to his hometown, Modena. He was actually working and racing at Alfa Romeo when he adopted the now world-famous symbol for his race car.
In 1929, he resigned from Alfa Romeo and founded Scuderia Ferrari as his own private racing stable. The stable continued to tune cars for Alfa Romeo through the late 30s and they eventually managed to design and build their first car in 1973. In 1939 however, Enzo Ferrari finally decided to completely leave Alfa Romeo behind in order to start his own company the Auto Avio Costruzioni.
After World War II, Enzo Ferrari began development on the 12-cylinder engine layout that Ferrari cars are well recognized for. Ferrari road tested the first 12-cylinder 125 S in 1947 and export of the first highway model to the United States soon followed.
During the 1950s, every improvement made on the Ferrari race cars was also applied to the road-worthy Ferrari cars. The Ferrari team gained its first victory on the racetrack through the Ferrari 375. The 375 was later exported to the U.S. in 1953 and production was set at a minimum of 70 cars a year. By the 1960s, the manufacture of Ferrari cars had tripled to more than 300 cars a year.
Ferrari cars gained quite a following in the 60s due to their winning various races and even bagging a Formula 1 championship. However due to financial burdens and heavy losses from competitors, Ferrari was forced to consider selling his company in the latter part of the decade. Although Ford offered to buy the whole company, Ferrari opted to sell a 50% stake of his company to Fiat in 1969.
The 1970s saw a surge in the company’s production and some models were even being churned out by the thousands. The Berlinetta Boxer 12 engine was finally introduced to the world in 1972 and the debut of the automatic 400i ended the decade.
The 1980s saw a surge in popularity for Ferraris with the creation of the Testarossa, the Modial convertible, and the celebrated F40. The Ferrari Testarossa was designed as an improvement on the many shortcomings of the Berlinetta Boxer. It featured a larger luggage compartment and improved indoor plumbing.
The F40 was so named because it was meant to commemorate the company’s 40th anniversary. The now iconic model boasted of a carbon-fiber body and giant wing in its design. The era ended with Enzo Ferrari’s death in 1988 and Fiat gained a 90% share of the company as a result. Piero Ferrari was left with only 10% of the shares although he was appointed as the vice president of the company.
Luca di Montezemolo was appointed as the new chairman in 1991 and helped the company continue its winning streak in Formula 1 racing. New models with smaller engines meant for road use were also being made alongside V12s like the enduring Testarossas.
In 2003, Ferrari Enzo was released in honor of the company’s founder. The vehicle boasts of an impressive use of Formula 1 12-cylinder engine technology combined with modern aerodynamic design. Despite its steep price of more than $1,000,000, it continues to be loved by many car enthusiasts up to this day.
The German racer Michael Schumacher became the poster boy for Ferrari race cars after he dominated 7 Formula 1 championships between 1994 and 2004. When he retired from racing at the end of 2006, the company gifted the driver with the Ferrari FXX. The FXX was constructed using some of the technologies of the Enzo however a significant amount of innovations were incorporated. Also, although the original FXX model features a red stripe on its front as a contrast to its black body, Schumacher’s personal model is the only one made without the stripe.