When it comes to prestige in the motoring world, Ferrari commands pole position. Ranked as the most powerful brand in the world by Brand Finance in 2014, the prancing horse on the yellow badge has become synonymous with high-end luxury and performance.
The Italian car manufacturer’s elite status is built on a legendary record in the racing world and a history of producing high-performance sports cars. In fact, Ferrari holds the title for the most expensive car in the world with the sale of a rare 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO at the Monterey RM Sotheby’s auction last year for a whopping $48.4 million.
It doesn’t get more prestigious than that.
The company was founded by Enzo Ferrari. Enzo had established himself in motor racing first as a driver for Alfa Romeo, then with his very own Scuderia Ferrari, and his appointment to head of the Alfa Course in 1938. He struck out on his own in 1939 to create the company Auto Avio Costruzioni and build his first sports car, the 815. Two versions of the 1500 cc 8-cylinder spider were built, with one racing in the 1940 Mille Miglia before World War II brought a halt to motor racing. It wasn’t until the end of the war that Enzo built what would be his first Ferrari, a 1500cc 12-cylinder sports car known as the 125 S, which won its first victory at the Rome Grand Prix in May, 1947.
But the now infamous logo had been in use for many years before Ferrari officially launched his first vehicle under the marque. It appeared on Scuderia Ferrari race cars as a championship shield as early as 1932, before becoming the trademark badge of the Ferrari brand.
Its unique design is based on a prancing horse symbol that was painted on the fuselage of a fighter plane flown by Francesco Baracca during World War I, which Enzo Ferrari was introduced to when he met the airman’s parents in 1923. They urged him to use the same horse on his race car, which he did, adding the canary yellow color of his birth city Modena as the background and the letters SF for Scuderia Ferrari. The shield-shaped badge was finished with the Italian national colors in white, green and red stripes at the top.
The world’s most powerful brand has accomplished many racing achievement and produced a stable of exclusive sports cars over the decades since its inception. To learn more about the meteoric rise of the marque, continue reading for a snapshot of important historical events from Ferrari’s official website.
1898: Enzo Ferrari is born in Modena, Italy.
1924: Ferrari becomes an Alfa Romeo works driver.
1929: Ferrari sets up Scuderia Ferrari at Viale Trieste in Modena.
1938: Enzo is appointed head of Alfa Corse.
1939: Auto Avio Costruzioni is founded in Scuderia’s old headquarters. Ferrari builds two models of the 815 sports car.
1943: Auto Avio Costruzioni moves its workshops from Modena to Maranello.
1947: The 125 S is the first car built under the Ferrari marque. It is driven by Franco Cortese at Piacenza Circuit on May 11th and again on the 25th at the Rome Grand Prix at the Terme di Caracalla circuit where it wins its first victory.
1948: Ferrari wins its first Mille Miglia race.
1949: Ferrari celebrates its first 24 Hours of Le Mans win.
1951: Ferrari begins working with Carrozzeria Scaglietti to manufacture its chassis.
1951-1953: The Ferrari team wins its first Formula 1 World Championship grand prix in 1951, followed by the world title in 1952 and 1953.
1960: Ferrari becomes a Limited Company.
1968: Ferrari race team strikes a sponsorship deal with Shell.
1969: Ferrari sells 50% of its shares to Fiat.
1973: The first rear-mounted V8 engines are produced and sales continue to grow with the design of highly popular models like the 308 GTB, 308 GT4 and the GTS.
1982-1983: Ferrari wins two consecutive Formula 1 Constructors’ Titles.
1984: Ferrari produces the 288 GTO and the Testarossa. Philip Morris International becomes a racing sponsor.
1987: Enzo Ferrari’s final car, the F40 is produced.
1988: Enzo Ferrari dies. Fiat increases its stake in the company to 90%, while the remaining shares stay with Piero Ferrari, Enzo’s son.
1995: The Ferrari F50 is launched.
2000-2008: Ferrari wins 13 Formula 1 World titles: six Driver’s and seven Constructors.
2002: The Enzo Ferrari model is produced and the first Ferrari store opens in Maranello.
2004: F430 model is launched.
2015: FCA puts 10% of its shares up for public sale, making Ferrari publically listed on the New York Stock Exchange on October 21.
2016: Ferrari is listed on Borsa Italiana on January 4, becoming an independent company.