Enzo Ferrari, the founder of the sports car company that bears his name, passed away on this day in 1988 at age 90. His professional auto racing career began October 5, 1919, when he took fourth place at a hill climb race in Parma, Italy. He’d go on to compete in a total of 47 races, including 13 first place awards. Many believe he would have won more if his love for automobiles did not from pushing them to a little bit harder. Perhaps that is the reason why he stopped racing cars in the mid 1920s to pursue a passion for building them.
In 1929 Ferrari formed the Scuderia Ferrari racing team in Modena at about the same time he took over as the head of Alfa Romeo’s racing department. In 1933 Scuderia Ferrari became the official racing department of Alfa Romeo after canceling its in-house program. Two years later, Ferrari, along with designer Luigi Bazzi, built the Alfa Romeo Bimotore. Many point to this car as the beginning of a transition for Ferrari to become an independent automobile manufacturer.
The first Ferrari cars
Ferrari left Alfa Romeo on September 6, 1939 under the provision that he would not use his name on cars for at least four years. A few days after leaving Alfa Romeo he founded Auto Avio Costruzioni in the old facilities of Scuderia Ferrari in Modena. At first he built only machine tools and aircraft parts, but in 1940 he produced two examples of his first vehicles, the Auto Avio Costruzioni 815. These cars debuted at the 1940 Mille Miglia.
Following WWII Ferrari commissioned Gioachino Colombo to design a new V12 engine. The engine landed in the first Ferrari-badged car, the 1947 Ferrari 125 Sport, which debuted May 11, 1947 at the Piacenza racing circuit. In 1950 Ferrari released the 166 Inter, its first road going Grand Tourer. The next year Ferrari won its first Grand Prix and followed that with its first World Title in 1952. The last car that Enzo Ferrari would personally approve before his death would be the Ferrari F40, which debuted 1987. It’s construction celebrated 40 years of Ferrari badged racing.