RACE TO THE TOP

FER­RARI IN­SPIRES FANATICISM ALL OVER THE WORLD FOR ITS FU­RI­OUSLY FAST, BOLD AND BEAU­TI­FUL CARS. AS IT TURNS 70, A NEW EX­HI­BI­TION AR­RIV­ING THIS MONTH AT LON­DON’S DE­SIGN MU­SEUM TAKES YOU UN­DER THE BON­NET.

The Australian - Wish Magazine - - AIA AWARDS 2017 - STORY FIONA McCARTHY

Fer­rari, of course, needs no in­tro­duc­tion. As one of the world’s most recog­nis­able brands, its pranc­ing horse and sig­na­ture rac­ing-red and sun­shine-yel­low logo (and sim­i­larly colour­matched cars) are as in­stantly iden­ti­fi­able in Cal­i­for­nia as they are in China. This year Fer­rari has also been cel­e­brat­ing its 70th an­niver­sary, with events all over the world; in Mel­bourne the Royal Ex­hi­bi­tion Build­ing was washed in red light (in hon­our of Fer­rari’s fa­mous rosso corsa, or rac­ing-car red) and ended with a fes­tive Fer­rari street party along Ly­gon Street’s Ital­ian precinct in Carl­ton. Back in Italy, pro­ceed­ings cul­mi­nated in a two-day spec­tac­u­lar track-side at Fer­rari’s Fio­rano Cir­cuit in Maranello, near Bologna, in­clud­ing a star-stud­ded RM Sotheby’s auc­tion and spell-bind­ing Con­cours d’Ele­gance of clas­sic and new Fer­raris from around the world; this was fol­lowed by a dra­matic stage show trac­ing the No 1 For­mula 1 team’s roots from founder Enzo Fer­rari’s child­hood, to iconic mo­ments on and off the race­track, to the present day.

Yet what is less well known is how ex­actly Fer­rari makes its par­tic­u­lar brand of Grand Prix-win­ning magic hap­pen. Cue Fer­rari: Un­der the Skin, a new ex­hi­bi­tion open­ing next week at the De­sign Mu­seum in Lon­don, promis­ing to take those not lucky enough to have vis­ited Fer­rari HQ be­hind the scenes and show how and why Fer­rari con­tin­ues to make ar­guably the best cars in the world. Here, there will be $240 mil­lion worth of Fer­raris on dis­play, in­clud­ing a 1957 250 GT Cabri­o­let (with body­work by the leg­endary Pin­in­fa­rina) once be­long­ing to fa­mous Bri­tish rac­ing driver Pe­ter Collins; Pink Floyd drum­mer Nick Ma­son’s 1988 F40; a 1973 365 GTB4 Day­tona, one of the first Fer­raris to be built in sub­stan­tial num­bers; and the iconic 1950 166 MM com­mis­sioned by Fiat boss Gianni Agnelli as his per­sonal car.

For the ex­hi­bi­tion co-cu­ra­tor An­drew Nahum, a highly re­spected jour­nal­ist and ex­pert on the his­tory of au­to­mo­tive de­sign and a tu­tor for the Ve­hi­cle De­sign Re­search depart­ment at the Royal Col­lege of Arts in Lon­don, Fer­rari: Un­der the Skin (open un­til next April) is an op­por­tu­nity to go be­yond the his­tory and nos­tal­gia of such a revered sym­bol of mo­tor­ing ex­cel­lence, and present Fer­rari as an ex­cit­ing case study in de­sign, too. Ap­proached by Ronald Stern, a pas­sion­ate col­lec­tor with “a beau­ti­ful Fer­rari ar­chive of mem­o­ra­bilia, pho­to­graphs, pub­li­ca­tions and let­ters”, says Nahum, the De­sign Mu­seum’s idea was to use this col­lec­tion as a spring­board for ex­am­in­ing the big­ger phe­nom­e­non that is Fer­rari as we know it to­day.

Cre­ated in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Fer­rari mu­seum (Museo Fer­rari) in Maranello, the ex­hi­bi­tion has been on show there since May in prepa­ra­tion for its ar­rival in Lon­don this month. It traces the his­tory of Fer­rari’s rac­ing prow­ess from Enzo’s early days as a driver in 1919 through to the de­vel­op­ment of his rac­ing team Scud­e­ria Fer­rari (Scud­e­ria mean­ing sta­ble) in Mo­dena in 1929, ini­tially for Alfa Romeo and then on his own, with in­tri­cate de­tails – early de­sign mod­els, hand-sketched draw­ings, Grand Prix cups and driv­ers’ hel­mets, even Enzo’s own driv­ing li­cence – of the his­tory, ethos and man­u­fac­ture of th­ese su­per ma­chines.

What Nahum thinks will best cap­ture the De­sign Mu­seum au­di­ence’s in­ter­est are rarely seen de­tails such a full-scale model of a lim­ited-edi­tion J50 hand-crafted in clay. “Ev­ery Fer­rari made is mod­elled by hand, sculpted in clay, cre­at­ing the ul­ti­mate trans­la­tion of art into in­dus­try, a trans­la­tion of ideas into metal, which is a very unique process in the in­dus­trial world,” he says. Along­side this is a wooden buck – the name for a full-size model sent to the Scagli­etti coach­builder’s crafts­men across the road from the Fer­rari fac­tory as a ref­er­ence for the body pan­els they were mak­ing. “As ev­ery Fer­rari made is first mod­elled at full size in clay be­fore it is signed off for pro­duc­tion, this of­fers an ex­clu­sive view into the fac­tory’s tech­niques,” Nahum says.

The first car Enzo Fer­rari ever built was the 125 S; he was 49 years old and Italy was still re­cov­er­ing from the dev­as­ta­tion of World War II. In col­lab­o­ra­tion with Luigi Chinetti, based in the US and a long-term col­league of Fer­rari’s since their Alfa Romeo days, the pair set out to

cre­ate new stan­dards in rac­ing en­gi­neer­ing. “Maserati had a first-class 8-cylin­der ma­chine, the English an ERA six-cylin­der, and Alfa their own eight-C,” writes Den­nis Adler in Fer­rari 70 Years pub­lished last Novem­ber. Race car de­signer and for­mer Alfa en­gi­neer Gioachino Colombo pro­posed Enzo make a 12-cylin­der – ex­actly what Fer­rari had been think­ing. For him, the en­gine was the heart of any car. Franco Cortese went on to drive the 125 S to vic­tory in the Rome Grand Prix, one of six vic­to­ries that year. Fer­rari has never looked back.

To­day, says Nahum, Fer­rari’s am­bi­tion to be “mak­ing the fastest, best-han­dling, high­est-per­for­mance cars that you can get, clothed in the most har­mo­nious way, ex­press­ing the essence of what a sports car should be”, is what makes Fer­rari so much more than a brand. “A brand im­plies a kind of art­ful con­struc­tion but Fer­rari has earned its place through its achieve­ments and you couldn’t have in­vented a brand like Fer­rari with­out Enzo Fer­rari. Even to­day, it stands for a com­mit­ment to ex­cel­lence and the ul­ti­mate fu­sion of au­to­mo­tive tech­nol­ogy and aes­thet­ics.”

Chair­man Ser­gio Mar­chionne, speak­ing at the 70th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions in Septem­ber, con­curs. “This com­pany is not only a sym­bol of ex­cel­lence in lux­ury and tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion; most of all it rep­re­sents a set of core val­ues unique to the spirit of Italy it­self. Enzo Fer­rari said, never check your dreams at the door, get in­volved, take risks and make those dreams hap­pen be­cause it’s the only way to leave your mark and to make a dif­fer­ence. It’s ex­actly what we try to do ev­ery day – it’s what makes us Fer­rari.”

As WISH is given unique ac­cess in­side Fer­rari’s fac­to­ries, Enzo’s spirit is pal­pa­ble through­out ev­ery inch of the com­pany’s state-of-the-art fa­cil­i­ties, up­graded at Maranello in the past 10 years with build­ings by worl­drenowned ar­chi­tects Jean Nou­vel and Mas­si­m­il­iano Fuk­sas, as well as a wind tun­nel de­signed by Renzo Pi­ano. From en­gine build­ing and body as­sem­bling to the tailoring depart­ment, where each in­te­rior is hand­stitched and moulded to ex­act cus­tom spec­i­fi­ca­tion, ev­ery el­e­ment of the mak­ing process has been de­signed with peo­ple in mind. Ro­bot­ics and ma­chin­ery are only used when the task is repet­i­tive or danger­ous, the high­est eco stan­dards are up­held, and er­gonomic sys­tems have been put in place to cre­ate the very best work­ing en­vi­ron­ment for its staff. All 8000 cars made each year are pre-sold and tai­lor-made, so each Fer­rari is unique.

From the very be­gin­ning, craft­man­ship by hand was al­ways at the core of Enzo Fer­rari’s ethos – un­like the assem­bly lines of mass-man­u­fac­tur­ing, here crafts­men have al­ways built each car in­di­vid­u­ally. It’s what Fer­rari calls “For­mula Uomo” (For­mula Man) where “the heart of Fer­rari re­volves so much around peo­ple and the hu­man el­e­ment of mak­ing a car”, ac­cord­ing to Piero Fer­rari, Enzo’s sec­ond and only liv­ing son (Al­fredo, known as Dino, died at 24 from Duchenne mus­cu­lar dys­tro­phy in 1956).

The firm takes tal­ent se­ri­ously. “The most tech­no­log­i­cal com­pany needs the high­est level of peo­ple and en­gi­neers,” Piero says. “This is some­thing my father was al­ways say­ing; friends and clients would come to meet him for the first time and would be sur­prised by how sim­ple and cheap the fur­ni­ture was in his of­fice. His re­ply was, ‘I in­vest my money in peo­ple – good en­gi­neers and me­chan­ics – then I in­vest the money in ma­chin­ery and then the re­main­ing, if I have it, I spend on fur­ni­ture, but this is the last prob­lem I have’.”

On cel­e­brat­ing seven decades, Piero says 70 “is a good num­ber, an im­por­tant num­ber”, but most im­por­tantly, “we are also re­mem­ber­ing that Fer­rari is al­ways look­ing to the fu­ture. My father de­vel­oped a com­pany with a lot of pas­sion and emo­tional in­volve­ment and to­day all the peo­ple work­ing in Fer­rari fol­low this pas­sion. It’s in the com­pany’s DNA.”

Piero came into the fam­ily fold rel­a­tively late. Born

il­le­git­i­mately to Enzo’s mistress Lina Lardi, it wasn’t un­til the death of Enzo’s wife Laura in 1978 that Piero was given the Fer­rari sur­name and 10 per cent of the com­pany’s shares (in 1969, Enzo sold 50 per cent of the com­pany to the Fiat Group, a stake that grew to 90 per cent in 1988; Fiat’s float­ing of Fer­rari in 2015 in­stantly made Piero a bil­lion­aire).

An en­gi­neer­ing grad­u­ate, Piero re­calls in the early days be­ing thrown in at the deep end – “My father did not ex­plain things to me, or say ‘Piero, sit here while I teach you’,” Piero told Clas­sic & Sports Car mag­a­zine in 2010. “Tough and de­mand­ing, as a father and as a boss, Enzo was also ca­pa­ble of ges­tures of great gen­eros­ity and un­ex­pected af­fec­tion, as­pects that he would tend to deny,” Piero adds. So he worked his way through all as­pects of the busi­ness un­til his father’s death in 1988 at the age of 90, when Piero be­came sole heir and vice chair­man, the role he still holds to­day.

Enzo didn’t race to sell cars but rather sold cars to keep rac­ing. It’s per­haps why Fer­rari in­spires such great pas­sion around the world, from its loyal “tifosi” fan base (there are 160 of­fi­cial Scud­e­ria Fer­rari clubs around the world, with nearly 20,000 mem­bers in 18 coun­tries) to the mil­lions (even tens of mil­lions) of dol­lars some col­lec­tors are will­ing to pay for th­ese leg­endary cars, new and vin­tage. Re­cently the late ac­tor and rac­ing driver Steve McQueen’s late 1960s 275 GTB/4, which he took de­liv­ery of on the set of Bul­litt, cus­tomised with a spe­cial trim and painted in what McQueen called Chi­anti Red, sold for $US10 mil­lion in 2014.

The world’s very best driv­ers have raced for Fer­rari: Niki Lauda, Nigel Mansell and Phil Hill to cur­rent For­mula One favourite Se­bas­tian Vet­tel (even ri­val Mercedes driver Lewis Hamil­ton has tipped Vet­tel as the odds-on win­ner this year). Michael Schu­macher, se­ri­ously in­jured in a ski­ing ac­ci­dent in 2013, be­came Fer­rari’s first world cham­pion in 2000 af­ter 21 years, help­ing to re­store Fer­rari to its for­mer glory with mul­ti­ple wins. Ev­i­dence of him is ev­ery­where at Maranello, even in a pi­azza on the com­pound that is named af­ter him. “Nam­ing a sim­ple side street af­ter him, like other For­mula One win­ners, just wasn’t enough,” our tour guide quips.

Dur­ing Septem­ber’s fes­tiv­i­ties at Fio­rano, RM Sotheby’s raised an as­ton­ish­ing €63m ($94m) for the largest sin­gle-make auc­tion of all time. Cars up for sale in­cluded Keith Richards’ 400i (with only 3627km on the clock, it was one of seven Fer­raris bought for use by the Rolling Stones and team in 1983) and an iconic 1959 250 GT LWB Cal­i­for­nia Spi­der that fetched €7.9m (com­mis­sioned for a young Venezue­lan so­cialite doc­tor, it has col­lected more than 35 con­cours awards over its life­time). There were also car­bu­re­tors and tool kits, a cam­ou­flage-painted car (right down to its en­gine) and one of only two 1994 Fer­rari 348 GT/C LMs to be built (this one with a Le Mans vic­tory un­der its belt). There was even a rusty 1969 GT/B Day­tona Ber­linetta Al­loy, which sold for £1.5m ($2.5m) de­spite its need for full restora­tion: cov­ered in dirt and dust af­ter be­ing lost for 40 years in a barn in Japan, it was a ver­i­ta­ble “myth”, the auc­tion­eer shouted ex­cit­edly, be­lieved to be the only one left of its kind.

Proof that Fer­rari doesn’t rest on its lau­rels lies in its lat­est lim­ited-edi­tion LaFer­rari Aperta, one of which will also be on dis­play at the De­sign Mu­seum this month. Just 209 cars were made, and all sold be­fore the car even launched at the Paris mo­tor show in Septem­ber last year, de­spite the im­pres­sive start­ing price tag of around €1.8m; this one is on gen­er­ous loan from chef Gor­don Ram­say. Set­ting new stan­dards in hy­brid tech­nol­ogy, with a top speed of 200km/h, a very spe­cial 210th is­sue, fin­ished in a unique rosso fuoco liv­ery with a bianco Italia rac­ing stripe, was auc­tioned off at the Fio­rano cel­e­bra­tions in Septem­ber for €8.3m (all pro­ceeds go­ing to the Save the Chil­dren fund). The great man him­self would be proud – as he him­self once said, “you can­not de­scribe pas­sion, you can only live it”. In Fer­rari terms, that means liv­ing life fast: 0 to 100 in un­der three sec­onds fast, no doubt blaz­ing a sig­na­ture Fer­rari rosso in­finito trail be­hind you.

Enzo didn’t race to sell cars but sold cars to keep rac­ing. It’s per­haps why Fer­rari in­spires such great pas­sion.

W

The Museo Fer­rari at Maranello with Fer­raris through the ages on dis­play

The 210th edi­tion of the LaFer­rari Aperta, which sold in Septem­ber for €8.3m

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