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Mythical, magical and unique, Ferrari turns 70

Mythical, magical and unique, Ferrari turns 70

Some of its models can fetch millions of euros at auctions and its racing cars continue to be at the top of the planet’s circuits. Ferrari celebrates in style this weekend its 70 years.

For three days, the brand will celebrate its anniversary in northern Italy. First in Milan, where about 500 Ferrari models will attend this Friday, then in Modena and, finally, in Maranello, the manufacturer’s headquarters.

“Ferrari is a mythical brand: it has a wonderful track record in speed circuits and represents the pinnacle of motorsports,” explains Patrice Vergès, an expert on the history of automobiles, to AFP.

In a Ferrari, there is “magic”, especially because of the “noise” it makes. “Owning a Ferrari and getting the attention of others is part of the game,” he says.

This unique saga in automobile history began in 1929, when the famous prancing black horse first appeared in Alfa Romeo race cars, with one Enzo Ferrari among its drivers. Those cars raced between 1929 and 1938.

But it was not until the post-war period, specifically the year 1947, for the Ferrari 125 S, the first model born from Enzo Ferrari’s imagination, to leave the Maranello factory, near Modena.

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The 125 S already sported the black horse, a tribute to Francesco Baracca, an Italian pilot from World War I who had that symbol painted on his plane.

Baracca’s mother, who was killed in combat in 1918, “told me one day: ‘Put my son’s’ prancing horse’ in your racing cars. It will give you luck “, said Enzo Ferrari, who put the horse on a yellow background, the color of Modena, his hometown.

The Ferraris, which very soon left a mark on the collective imagination, are only available to a few, since they can cost between 150,000 and a million euros. And future owners have to be patient. Last year, Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne acknowledged that you had to wait up to three years to buy a Ferrari 488.

‘A factory of dreams’ –

The brand, which became independent from the Fiat Chrysler (FCA) group at the end of 2015 and is listed on the Milan and New York Stock Exchanges, has recorded enviable results: 3.1 billion euros – 3.734 billion dollars – of turnover in 2016, with only 8,014 cars delivered, and a net profit of 400 million euros, an increase of 38% compared to the previous year.

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Ferrari proposes “an industrial craftsmanship of enormous quality, which it accompanies with a very close dialogue with its customers”, says Carlo Alberto Carnevale Maffè, professor of strategy at the Bocconi University of Milan.

“It has managed to incorporate the demands of its customers, introducing a lot of customization into its manufacturing processes: the steering wheels, the seats, the interior …”, with buyers who are received at the factory to bring their personal touch, he explains.

According to him, a Ferrari “deserves.” You have to be part of the club. There are so many upstarts, nouveau riche who want to be admitted to it, but are viewed with some suspicion.

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Ferrari was truly “a brand of passionate people,” says Vergès. “You had to be because they were always damaged, although, of course, people did not say that.” Today that has changed, the historian considers, and Ferrari has become “a brand of wealthy bourgeoisie” who use cars as an “investment.”

Despite everything, the brand can boast of having made the most expensive car ever auctioned, a 1957 Ferrari 335 S Scaglietti, sold in Paris for 32 million euros, in early 2016.

And on the circuits, the oldest active team in Formula 1 is still at the top. For his 70th anniversary, perhaps he can achieve the best of gifts: the world drivers’ title with the German Sebastian Vettel, currently second in the standings, just three points behind the British Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes.

After 68 seasons in the leading discipline of motorsport, the team has an impressive track record: 228 grand prix victories, 721 podiums, 16 constructors ‘world champion titles and 15 drivers’ titles. AFP

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