If there is an automotive make with more allure than Ferrari, we have yet to find it.
Strikingly beautiful, fast, and shockingly expensive, driving new Ferrari cars are the ultimate dreams of many automotive enthusiasts. Ironically, as coveted as the new Ferrari models are, the company’s founder never placed much emphasis on them. His passion was racing; for him, the road cars existed only to support Scuderia Ferrari’s racing efforts.
In fact, the company was in existence for a full 17 years before it even offered a car for the street.
Ferrari road car production started in 1949, with the Ferrari 166 Inter—the first of the new Ferrari models intended specifically for road use. A 2.0-liter V12 engine producing between 110 and 140 horsepower powered the 166 Inter, depending upon the carburetor configuration. As was the custom in high-end cars of the day, Ferrari offered the car as a rolling chassis—which was then delivered to a coachbuilder to produce a body to the customer’s specification. This began Ferrari’s long-running association with the likes of Pininfarina, Bertone, and Zagato.
Previously managing cars for other teams, Enzo Ferrari started running his own Formula 1 Grand Prix cars in 1950, and the company has been racing in Formula 1 ever since. The first Ferrari Grand Prix win came at Silverstone in 1951, in the British Grand Prix. One year later, the team won its first championship with Alberto Ascari at the wheel. Today, Ferrari is the oldest and most successful F1 team in existence.
Further, it holds nearly every Formula 1 record.
Today’s lineup of new Ferrari models includes a mix of V8 and V12 powered cars, as well as front- and mid-engine powertrain configurations. The model range includes the expected two-seat models; however there is also an all-wheel drive V12-powered “station wagon” among the new Ferrari cars called FF.
Traditionally, V8 engines have powered the majority of the mid-engine cars, although the notable 512 Berlinetta Boxer and 512 Testa Rossa models of the 1970's and 80's were V12s. There is currently one front-engine V8 among the new Ferrari models in production—the California Spyder—V12 engines power all the rest.
Until recently, Ferrari’s naming conventions paid homage to the engine powering the vehicle. Mid-engined models would list the displacement and cylinder count. For example, the 206 Dino used a 2.0-liter V6. The 512 Boxer Berlinetta used a horizontally opposed (Boxer) 5.0-liter V12. Front-engined models were designated by the displacement of a single cylinder. Multiply 365 by 12 and you get the (roughly) 4.4-liter displacement of the 365 Daytona’s engine.
Enzo Ferrari died in 1988, still in control of the company bearing his name.
Fiat owns the company today