The Ferrari is one of the most coveted cars in the world. People from all across the globe stare at photographs of these beasts–or even stare at them in person, if they’re lucky enough–and dream of being able to own one someday. That iconic flash of red is unmistakable, and they're a status symbol like no other.
But how much do you really know about the marque that everyone wants? Have you memorized all the model names? Are you familiar with the differences in the engines, the interior-design quirks, the placement of the badges? Even if you’re a superfan, there might be a fair few things that you just don’t know about the car marked with the prancing horse.
We’re going to take you on a wild ride through some of the most interesting facts you simply didn’t know about Ferrari. From the man who built the brand from the ground up to the development of the cars to the way they drive today, there are a lot of little-known secrets that are hidden away inside this car manufacturer’s history. From the beginning through to the present day, there’s a lot to find out about.
So, without further ado, let’s get started. Hold onto your notebooks and pens—these are some facts you’ll want to whip out the next time you’re with the lads.
20 The Red Wasn't Deliberate
It’s barely a Ferrari if it isn’t red. That standout color is the classic and traditional look for the Ferrari, and many owners opt for red when they purchase their car–at least their first one from the brand. That’s because it’s become so iconic and so clearly linked to the brand. But the fact of the matter is that no one at the Ferrari manufacturing plant ever chose to paint the cars that color on purpose. Instead, it was all dictated by regulation.
Since Ferrari started out as a racing marque, they had to go by the racing regulations at the time.
Those stated that every racing team had to race in the paint colors of his country, which was Rossa Corsa in the case of Italy. When they made road cars, they just kept the color.
19 Ferrari Didn’t Want to Build Cars
You may be surprised to learn that if Enzo Ferrari had had his way, you would've had even less of a chance of getting behind the wheel of one of his cars. He actually wanted to only make racecars, feeling that anything else was, in many ways, beneath him. However, there was a problem: the team needed funding from somewhere. He was convinced by members of the company around him that they needed to build and sell road cars in order to make money. That’s why he didn’t start releasing road cars until 1947, the cars coming in the shape of the 127 S. It wasn’t until 1969, when Fiat purchased a 50% stake in the company, that things really started to change and explode. Their investment allowed for the expansion of the production facilities, and the rest was history.
18 The Most Expensive Car Ever Is a Ferrari
The most expensive car that's ever been sold is a Ferrari. It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise, given the sheer caliber of the brand. The car in question is the Ferrari 250 GTO, which comes at a variety of prices, depending on which particular vehicle you want to buy. There are only 36 of them out there, so you don’t have much to choose from.
The biggest sale was in 2013, when a 250 GTO with the chassis number 5111GT was sold for $52 million.
Others in recent history have sold for $26 million, $35 million, and $38 million. It all comes down to their racing history, provenance, and other quirks such as which chassis number they have, as well as their current condition. If you have one of these in your garage, you can be sure that you aren’t going to let it rust away.
17 The Pope Had a Ferrari
If you want to think about who's the least likely person to ever be seen driving a Ferrari, the Pope has to come somewhere near the top of the list. Yet, he actually did have one in the past. In 2004, the Enzo was gifted to the Pope by Luca di Montezemolo, who had, by then, succeeded Enzo Ferrari as the company director. It came to him via an even stranger provenance: Charlie’s Angels. There were only 400 Enzos built, and the last one to be made appeared in the Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle film. Once filming had wrapped, it was presented to Pope John Paul with a handwritten dedication from Luca and then donated to the Vatican afterward. They auctioned it off for $1.1 million.
16 Ferrari Built a Car With Two Engines
Enzo Ferrari had a lot of great ideas—revolutionary ideas, that created amazing vehicles. However, with genius innovation, there are also a lot of ideas that don’t work quite as well. Such was the case when Ferrari decided to build a racing car with two engines in 1935, the result being the Alfa Romeo 16C Bimotore.
Enzo had worked for Alfa as the director of their racing department before branching out on his own, but this car wasn't as successful as some of his other designs.
In fact, it ended up driving very poorly, thanks to the fact that the second engine did little more than add too much extra weight. We can all be very thankful that he stopped making these kinds of mistakes when he made road cars.
15 The Prancing Horse Represents a War Ace
The prancing horse on the logo is just a fun representation of the fact that the cars pack a lot of horsepower under their hoods, right? Well, actually, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, the prancing horse was first adopted by a fighter pilot named Francesco Baracca, who served Italy during World War I. He was known as a fighting ace, winning 34 battles for his side. He took on the Cavallino Rampante, the rearing horse against the yellow background, as his symbol for luck. After his death, his mother presented the symbol to Ferrari and told him it would bring him luck. He used it on his race cars beginning 1929 and then on his road cars when he began making them. It seems to have done the trick.
14 There’s a Forest in the Factory
The Ferrari factory in Maranello is well known for having remained in the same place since 1943. Although it may have gone through a lot of changes during that time, one of the biggest has to be the addition of a veritable forest inside the actual building.
The company decided to create sustainable cars, so they needed to balance out their carbon emissions by planting trees–a lot of trees.
Now, you can take it as an example of some of the best eco-friendly manufacturing processes in the world. They also use only natural gas or solar power to run the machines, making the factory almost entirely self-sustainable. That’s a pretty good feat for a car that's seen as a real gas-guzzler. You wouldn’t at all expect it to be made green.
13 Ferraris Have the Same Logo as Porsches
Remember how Enzo Ferrari adopted the prancing-horse symbol on a yellow background for his car badges in tribute to the fallen fighter ace, Baracca? Well, here’s something interesting: it turns out that Porsche actually has the exact same logo. Yes, it’s no coincidence that both brands carry a horse on their badges–they came from the same place. You see, Baracca chose the horse after he had shot down a German pilot over Stuttgart and considered him to be a truly worthy adversary. In tribute to him, he painted the symbol on his plane, having seen it on the Stuttgart coat of arms. Meanwhile, Porsche actually originated from Stuttgart, which is why they also use the same horse. It’s kind of funny that it still has nothing at all to do with horsepower.
12 The Testarossa Was Once Incredibly Cheap
In the 1950s, car development was moving fast. That’s how the Testarossas ended up being considered obsolete just a few years after they were produced.
By the time the 1960s rolled around, you could pick one of them up for just $5,000.
It was still a significant amount of money back then, but nowhere near the ballpark of any other Ferrari you could buy. But these cars are considered to be one of the most beautiful designs Enzo ever dreamt up. As a result, to say that they're sought after now is an understatement. When one of them came up for auction in 2011, it broke the then-world record for sales at a car auction. It went for a mouthwatering $16.4 million—not a bad return on investment.
11 Ferrari Started Lamborghini–Through Rage
You may not realize that Enzo Ferrari is also responsible for another of the top most-lusted-after supercar brands: Lamborghini. The story goes that Ferruccio Lamborghini wasn’t happy with the clutch on his Ferrari 250GT. You see, he noticed that it was the same part that he had used on his own production line… for tractors. He went to Maranello and asked Ferrari to give him a replacement part. Instead, he was told, "You're just a silly tractor manufacturer. How could you possibly know anything about sports cars?" Well, he took that as a dare and a challenge rolled into one and went back home to design his own sports car. The result was the Lamborghini 350GTV. It seems Ferrari and Lamborghini have more in their bad blood than simply a desire to outsell one another!
10 Ferrari Started Shelby–Through Even More Rage
But that’s not all. Enzo Ferrari was apparently a hard man to deal with, and he inspired a whole lot of people to walk out of his factory with their arms thrown into the air and a mission to prove him wrong. One of these people was Carroll Shelby, the man behind the Shelby brand. He was racing for Ferrari in the 1950s but saw several other drivers–including his friend, Luigi Musso–die while driving the cars. He blamed Enzo personally for the loss of life and became fuelled by a rage that would never allow him to forgive the other man. Instead, he decided to make rival cars–and thus, the Cobra Daytona was born. It seems Enzo had more influence just through the people who hated him than most of us will have in our whole lives!
9 He Always Wore Sunglasses
If you’re starting to build up an image of Enzo Ferrari as straddling the line between douchebag and genius, then you aren’t far off the mark. In fact, he may have been one of the first progenitors of one of the ultimate signs that someone is a little bit on the douche side: he always wore his black sunglasses, even while indoors. While it might come across as cool for Karl Lagerfeld, he's literally the only person in the world who's ever been able to pull this look off. Sadly, for Enzo, even being the founder of one of the most iconic car brands in the world isn’t enough to make it okay. Everyone knows you can’t see where you’re going. It’s not a good look.
8 A King Gave Enzo His Nickname
Where did you get your nickname from? For most of us, the answer is usually high school. If you manage to outgrow that, you might get one in college. And if you outgrow that, you either don’t have a nickname, or it’s a boring one based solely on your actual name. Not so for Enzo Ferrari, who certainly got used to the finer things in life. Even his nickname couldn’t be of your common or garden variety. No, his nickname was given to him by King Vittorio Emmanuel III of Italy. He referred to Enzo as ‘Il Commendatore,’ which translates to ‘The Commander.’ It’s a fairly good nickname if you’re going to have to have one. Of course, being given it by a king must just about make it a legal requirement.
7 Even Brochures Are Expensive
If you can’t own a Ferrari yourself, then the next best thing might be looking at pictures of them. How about picking up a brochure, so you can always have the information on hand when you might want to look at it?
Well, here’s the bad news: Ferrari’s brochures are the most expensive in the world. That’s right—ridiculous as it may seem, they actually hold the world record for the highest price paid at auction for a car brochure. It was, predictably, for the 250 GT, and it cost $1,522.
That’s a lot of money to pay for marketing materials. We’ll admit that the photos look good and that it's well presented, but it’s still just a marketing leaflet about a car you’ll never be able to own.
6 Enzo Has a Badass Wolf Story
Being Enzo Ferrari already makes you pretty cool, even if he was a difficult person to live with by all accounts. But there’s something in his backstory that you probably haven’t heard of that brings his coolness factor up by about a million. Once, in 1919, he got trapped in deep snow with his friend Ugo Sivocci. If this problem wasn’t bad enough, they were soon attacked by hungry wolves that were looking for a quick meal. The story goes that Enzo managed to scare them away with the use of his revolver. It must've been a pretty fraught experience from beginning to end, but he kept his cool and stayed in charge of the situation. That’s not something we'd all be able to do.
5 The Typical Ferrari Customer Drives Alone
Ferrari has done considerable research into its customers and found out plenty of interesting statistics about them. For example, if you own a Ferrari coupe, you’re more likely to be driving on your own. The figure may be linked to the use of the cars for track days. If you have a Spider, however, you’re more likely to be driving with a passenger. You’re also more likely to own more than one Ferrari, and you’re more likely to drive your vehicle to a social event. Spider owners also drive their cars more frequently than coupe owners do. These statistics are pretty interesting, and they can’t lie–though there will, of course, be owners who don’t fit into the majority. There are always outliers that go against the data.
4 Even Paint Can Be Heavy
When trying to make the Ferrari F40 as aerodynamic as possible, a lot had to be done to try to reduce the overall weight of the car. This meant using lightweight materials, shaving off some bits of bodywork here and there, and limiting the bells and whistles in the interior. Once you get rid of the main bulk, however, what's there left to cut out? The paint was targeted as one of the ways to cut that little sliver more of weight and get the car to an optimum level. So little was used that the carbon Kevlar weave can still be seen through the paint. It’s rumored that only two liters in total were used. That’s a very small amount of paint to cover quite a lot of car.
3 Their Remit is Tight
There are some lines that Ferrari won’t cross. Even though rival brands like Porsche, Lamborghini, Maserati, and so on may have bent and changed with the times, Ferrari stays firm. For example, they've never created a two-seat car with 4-wheel drive. Instead, they rely on strong traction-control systems to do the same kind of job. They've also never designed an SUV. We have to admit, it feels like it would be pretty weird to buy a Ferrari SUV. Then again, we’d have thought that about Lamborghini, and yet apparently, people buy them. Ferrari has never even so much as made a four-door sedan. That’s how dedicated they are to their racing-car roots. It’s one of those things that really make them special.
2 They Have Their Own Racetrack
Out of all the car manufacturers around the world, Ferrari is the only one to have built their own racing track just for testing the vehicles in development.
The Pista di Fiorano is 1.86 miles long, with corners specially designed to test different aspects of the car’s performance.
It also simulates corners from various F1 Grand Prix circuits around the globe, creating a track that can be considered to be the best of the best. It’s used for the development of their F1 cars, their privateer racing cars, and also their road cars. They don’t skimp on the good stuff just because you’ll be sticking to motorways instead of heading to tracks. They make sure you get the best experience possible, no matter what.
1 It’s Actually a Young Brand
When you talk about Ferrari, you think about a name that's full of tradition and history. It’s a name that's lasted through the ages and through generations. Actually, you might be surprised to learn that it's one of the youngest Italian car brands out there. Alfa Romeo, FIAT, Maserati, Lancia, and the others are all older than Ferrari, most by at least thirty years. Only Lamborghini and Pagani are younger. In fact, it’s such a “new” brand that the current president, Luca di Montezemolo, actually started off as Enzo Ferrari’s own personal assistant. Now, that’s a career path we have to envy. Mind you, it did take him a fair few decades to rise through the ranks, but still–what a way to climb the ladder.