Among the legends of sporting and extravagant motoring design, few names stand out as clearly or proudly as Ferrari. Yet many may be surprised to learn that Enzo Ferrari, the company founder and guiding light, was not initially interested in manufacturing; credit then, where it is due, that classic Ferrari have achieved such an iconic status in the annals of history.
Enzo’s original idea was to sponsor drivers who raced primarily in Alfa Romeo. Unaffected by Mussolini’s takeover of the Romeo company, Enzo maintained a steady part in the development of racing cars, although the Ferrari brand chiefly provided parts for the Italian air force.
The first of Ferrari’s racing cars debuted in 1947, although the basic design had been conceived as early as 1940. The 125S was a powerful racing car with a V12 engine and despite not completing its first race, set a standard for the Ferrari legend a mere twelve days later.
Hot on the heels of the 125S came Ferraris’ first dip into the market which would prove its most lucrative, the touring car market, with the 166 inter. A loose evolution from the 125S, the inter would set the standard for Ferrari’s street driven models. Over a two year period, close to 40,000 were made.
The elegant and sleek design took a new direction from the chunkier racing style of the day, and although designed for the road rather than the race track, the signature V12 remained under the hood, making the 166 not only stylish but powerful.
Throughout the 1950s Ferrari built on the impact of the 166 and GT models, developing custom ranges including the America and Europa range, these still incorporated the V12 but with design modifications to chassis and craftwork. Of these custom models few were built making an expensive market for collectors today.
Despite success on the racetrack and on the road, Ferrari did not really break with tradition until the 1960s. It was here that, contravening traditional theories, they experimented with mid-engine models such as the Dino and as a consequence were able to break into the modern Supercar era.
The Dino was the company’s first mid-engine model, released as late as 1968, but the design with either a V6 or V8 engine, would remain the staple of Ferrari design, right up to the present day. The Dino is, perhaps, the classic Ferrari design. Evocative and crisp it is the image of a Ferrari most people will bring to mind.
It was designed to be an affordable choice to rival the classic Porsche 911, and was considered a welcome, if audacious, competitor. It surpassed the 911 for weight distribution and with a refined nose and lower rear end, was much more streamlined.
Few would deny the impact Ferrari have meted over both the racing and the luxury market, and with eager collectors hoping to own a little piece of motoring history, it is unsurprising that even “affordable” marques such as the Dino contribute to a thriving market for the classic Ferrari.