Without one man, the autocratic and occasionally eclectic Enzo Ferrari, there would be no Ferrari legend. He was the superb organiser, and dogged fighter, who had the knack of surrounding himself with the best motor engineers and car designers that Italy could offer. Born in Modena in 1898, his father was an engineer so was always interested in such matters. However he turned down the opportunity to study engineering himself and opted instead to work for several pioneering companies in Italian industry, before joining Alfa Romeo in 1920. It was here that Ferrari could indulge his passion for motor racing, becoming Alfa Romeo 'works' driver, and finishing second in the Targa Florio in the same year.
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From 1923 he concentrated on organization, rather than driving, and his skills as a superb tactician came to light. He soon left Alfa Romeo to form his own racing team and Scuderia Ferrari was unleashed in 1929. The role of Scuderia Ferrari was to race the Alfa Romeo cars whilst the parent company could concentrate on designing and developing the next generation of automobiles. It was at this point that the 'Prancing Horse' emblem first appeared. All went well for Ferrari until in the mid 1930's the German government financed Mercedes-Benz and Auto-Union GP cars arrived on the circuit, after which the Alfa Romeos could rarely match them again.
After WWII, Ferrari's links with Alfa Romeo were severed and Enzo Ferrari resolved to start building his own cars. His first chief engine designer was Gioacchino Colombo, who produced the classic V12 engine - versions of which were to become the mainstay of most Ferrari road cars for many years to come. The original V12 was a 1500cc single overhead cam design, first seen in 1947, and cars using it were known as 125's. The first such Ferrari's were a two-seater sportscar, and a new Formula One car.
All Ferrari road cars are titled in numbers and letters. The system has become very confusing, and not always logical, over the years. To start with the number referred to the cubic capacity of one cylinder in the engine, however from 1957 the number referred to the engine size in litres, and the number of cylinders - except when it didn't!!!