A Definitive History of Ferrari – Part 1

The Early Years 1940 – 1960

The Prancing Horse badge is instantly recognisable to every man and boy in the country. From the Auto Avio Costruzioni 815 of 1940 to the current 599 GTB, the racing red body and the sound of the engine note, Enzo’s legacy laid out for all to see. Dedicated to producing race winning cars, old man Ferrari detested the people who drove his cars as a status symbol, only selling them to the public out of necessity to fund Ferraris conquest of motor races across the globe.

A Young Enzo Ferrari

Born on 18th February 1898 in Modena, Enzo Anselmo Ferrari couldn’t have imagined the impact his cars would have on motoring, producing some of the most equisit cars, both asthetically and technically, the world has ever seen. The young Enzo Ferrari had boyhood dreams of being an Opera singer. Although that passed him by, he did work as a journalist for Gazzetta dello Sport, still the Itallian premier sports journal today. In 1917 Enzo was conscripted into the Army where his background as a metal worker pitched him as a blacksmith shoeing mules, but due to ill health his time there was cut short.

After a brief stint as a delivery driver, Enzo earned a test drive job for Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazionale (CMN) which ultimately lead him driving for the team in 1919. The following season he drove for Alfa Romeo in the legendary P1 & P2 with Antonio Ascari. Enzo had a long and destinguished career for Alfa which he left in 1929 to set up a new Alfa racing team – Scuderia Ferrari of which the emblem was one of Enrico Baracca’s black prancing horses on a yellow shield, which Countess Paolina Baracca dedicated to Enzo in memory of her son who was killed in the war (interestingly from the same squadron as Enzo’s brother Alfredo who was also killed in the war).

Alfa Romeo P2

Scuderia Ferrari dominated motor racing in the early 1930’s until the heavily funded German teams started to turn the tide. By 1939, Ferrari ended his long relationship with Alfa stating that he could not work with the new director of Racing – Wilfredo Ricart – whose arragance was allegedly only rivaled by Ferrari’s!

It’s important to note at this point that car manufacturing and selling was very different in the early days compared to today. Ferraris early models were produced in low numbers for obvious reasons. Indeed, the first few models they only produced a couple of examples and generally used parts from one of the models to make the next series of models the following year. Also, Ferrari sold cars to what was known as Gentlemen racers – track cars as we know them today (like a Porsche 911 GT2) – as well as racing teams. This act was purely to fund its racing operations. It wasn’t to the early-mid fifties that Ferrari started to produce in more numbers for a growing demand for both race prepared racing cars and high performance road ready cars. The road ready cars were generally more refined and were outsourced to exotic design houses such as Pinnin Farina and Ghia.

Ferrari models got their numbers by deriving the unitary cubic capacity, obtined by dividing the total by the number of cylinders into their total cc – for example 1995.02cc divided by 12 = 166.25 or the 166 series! Ferrari also use a rolling chassis number for all their cars.

In this article, I would like to set out each and every Road going Ferrari ever produced. I’d also like to chart the history of Ferrari’s motor racing herritage, the thing that is closest to the company and it’s founder.

1940 Auto Avio Costruzioni 815
Auto Avio Costruzioni 815
Part of Ferrari’s settlement wih Alfa revolved around him not racing or producing racing cars in his own name for 4 years. To get around this, Ferrari, along with Luigi Bazzi developed the 815 under the badge of Auto Avio Costruzioni. Predominantly made from Fiat parts, was designed by Alberto Massimino. The 815 had a top speed of 160 km/h from the 1.5 litre straight-8 72hp engine. 1 of the 2 815’s produced was driven by Antonio Ascari’s son Alberto.

1947 Ferrari 125 S
Ferrari 125S
The first car baring the owners name was the Ferrari 125 S. Developed with several of Enzo’s old pals from Alfa, Gioachino Colombo layed out the 1.5 litre longtitudinal V12 engine which would reach a top speed of 170 km/h from 118 hp (and form the basis of Ferrari V12’s for years to come). After suffering a gutting blow out 3 laps from the end of it’s race debut, the 125 S would win the Grand Prix of Rome 2 weeks later and take 6 wins from 14 races in just 6 months.

1947 Ferrari 159 S
Ferrari 159 S
Essentially the same car as the 125 S, the 159 S was a 2 litre version of the car which produced an extra 7hp raising to 125hp. The car was a bridge between the 125 and new 166 models planned for 1948.

1948 Ferrari 125 F1
Ferrari 125 F1
Ferrari’s first forray into F1 and acknowledged as the forerunner to modern day F1 cars, the 125 had the same engine as the 125 S but the roots supercharged engine produced 230hp powering the car to 260 km/h.

1948 Ferrari 166 F2
Ferrari 166 F2
The 166 F2’s debut race could not have gone better. Raymond Sommner lead from start to chequered flag lapping every other competitor. The 2 litre V12 engine produced a top speed of 235 km/h from 155hp. By 1949, a young driver entered F2 in a Ferrari 166 owned by the Automobile Association of Argentina. In an unusual Yellow & Blue livery, Juan Manuel Fangio would go on to become one of the most accomplished drivers in F1 history. 1948 marked Ferraris first serious effort at a racing season.

1948 Ferrari 166 S Allemano (barchetta & saloon)
Ferrari 166 S Allemano
V12 barchetta & saloon, 2 litre producing 170 km/h from 110 hp.

1948 Ferrari 166 SC
Ferrari 166 SC
V12 roadster, 2 litre producing 170 km/h from 130 hp.

1948 Ferrari 166 MM Touring
Ferrari 166 MM Touring
V12 barchetta, 2 litre producing 220 km/h from 140 hp.

1949 Ferrari 166 MM Zagato
Ferrari 166 MM Zagato
V12 coupe, 2 litre producing 210 km/h from 140 hp.

1949 Ferrari 166 Inter
Ferrari 166 Inter
The 166 Inter was Ferraris first true GT – a car for roads, debuting at the Paris motor show in 1949.

1950 Ferrari 195 S, 195 Inter
Ferrari 195
2.3 L V12 producing 170hp wih a top speed of 200 km/h.
The race prepared 195 S was more powerful than the customer prepared Inter version. This step is seen by many as the first differentiation between customers buying full racing cars and customers buying race cars refined specifically for the wealthy race going public.

1951 Ferrari 340 America
Ferrari 340 America
4.2 L V12 producing 240 km/h from 220 hp.
The 340 America was produced to consolidate Ferrari’s presence in the US market. The car was used as a stepping stone for Ferrari to get closer to the 4.5 L limit imposed by F1 regulations. Like all the early Ferrari it was originally marketed purely as a racing car, with a more refined version going out for road going customers later on.

1951 Ferrari 212 Export and 212 Inter
Ferrari 212
2.6 L V12 producing 150hp with a top speed of 220 km/h.
The 212 was produced after Gioachino Colombo left Ferrari after continuing problems with Aurelio Lampredi. Still one of his projects, Ferrari kept with the original blueprints set by Colombo. Possibly one of the most interesting designs by Ferrari to date, the car was known as the ‘Sicilian Cart’ and the ‘Egg’ due to it’s shape.

The Inter cabriolet was the first Ferrari to be designed by Pinin Farina, which marked a long and prosperous relationship between the two companies. Other 212 Inters were fitted out my many well known designers including Vignale and Ghia. This was Ferrari’s first mass produced model to date producing over 80 212’s.

1952 Ferrari 225 S
Ferrari 224 S
2.8 L V12 producing 230 km/h from 210hp.
The 225 was the predecessor to the 250 range of Ferrari cars. A fairly unknown car that aside from victory in the GP of Monaco had an average race career. Ferrari were feverishly experimenting with 3.0 L engines and 250 S cars. The car was most famous for becoming the first Rossa driven on the new Imola race track on October 19 1952 by Alberto Ascari and world motorcycle champion Umbretto Masetti on a demonstration day.

1952 Ferrari 250 S
Ferrari 250 S
3.0 L V12 producing 230hp with a top speed of 250 km/h.
The 250 S arrived at the right time for Ferrari. Mercedes-Benz 350 SL and Maserati were starting to improve on he racing scene considerably and the 1952 victory for Giovanni Bracco and Alfonso Rolfo on a tretcherous Mille Miglia course was to go down in history as one of the best pieces of racing driving.

1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico
Ferrari 340 Mexico
4.1 L V12, producing 280 km/h from 280hp.
A stunning looking car that failled to live up to it’s hype due to mechanical short failings.

1953 Ferrari 250 MM
Ferrari 250 MM
After the 250 S experiment had worked so well, Ferrari’s next venture with the 250 was the MM. the same engine layout but an extra 10hp. The Pinnin Farina styling took Ferrari ahead of it’s old motor sports look and is the Ferrari that gives all pre-F-40 cars their herritage (most post F-40 Ferrari owe their styling to that car as a bench mark – powerful, agressive low lines and stance).

1953 Ferrari-Abarth 166 MM/53
Ferrari-Abarth 166 MM/53
2.0 L V12, poroducing 230 km/h from 160hp.
The Abarth version was practically a 250 with a crazy body. Vignale produced a more conventional body design and used the open body 250 MM as a basis.

1953 Ferrari 625 TF
Ferrari 625 TF
2.5 L, 4 cylinder in line engine producing 240 km/h from 220hp.
Using the F1 engine, only 1 example ever produced and driven by Mike Hawthorn an Monza. The V12 had never been questioned until now, and the 4th place showing by Hawthorne showed that although the Monza course didn’t allow the 625 to show its full potential on the straights, there was a good reason to start producing 4 cylinder engines in its sports cars.

1953 Ferrari 735 S

3.0 L, 4 cylinder in line engine producing 260 km/h from 225hp.
In the same race that Hawthorn raced the 625 TF, the 735 S was driven by Alberto Ascari. The distinctive front end had a droop snoop nose, 45o radiator grill incline and chromed vents along the side which was the mark of Vignale styled Ferrari. The 735 also had the engine bored out to increase to 2941.66cc up from he 2.5 litre 625 TF. The race was going well for the 735 until a crash with a back marker when leading cost it the race.

This is also arguably the most beautiful Ferrari ever produced.

1953 Ferrari 500 Mondial
Ferrari 500 Mondial
2.0 L, 4 cylinder in line engine producing 235 km/h from 170hp.
Ferrari continued with the 4 cylinder line up with the 500 Mondial (a name that would be added to later Ferrari). The Mondial was also the first Ferrari to be styled by Carozzeria Scaglietti – the name added to the current 612 model in tribute. Scaglietti were true artisans and although the Mondail looks dated by other later 50’s cars of the era, it was certainly the car they aspired to be.

1953 Ferrari 340 MM
Ferrari 340 MM
4.1 L, V12 engine producing 300hp with a top speed of 270 km/h.
In 1953, the FIA gave world championships status to covered wheel events. This significantly increased the interest from car manufacturers and marked the start of the push for marques like Ferrari to rule the roads. The significance in this is that it became ever more important for competing manufacturers to sell more road going cars to customers to improve the amount of R&D they could invest in racing. The obvious benefit was the road going cars, (although more refined), would continue to see enhanced handling and performance. Ferrari upped the 166, 250 & 340 ranges. The 340 became the 340 MM to signify the improvements. The 340 MM carried high hopes for Ferrari as they concentrated their efforts into winning Le Mans but despite a 340 winning the cars debut Giro di Sicilia and the years usual big race (the Mille Miglia) the 340 MM had a short career.

1953 Ferrari 375 MM, 375 Coupe & 375 America
Ferrari 375
4.5 L, V12 engine producing 340hp and a top speed of 240 km/h.
Later improvements took the car to 350hp and 275 km/h, and a US version (the 375 Plus) was bored out to 5 Litres!
Ferrari had finally reached the 4.5 Litre target for a road going sports car with their V12 engine. Problems with the transmission plagued the car in its debut season but it did win it’s fair share of races.

The GT Coupe version of the 375 MM was a true beauty. The car today shows how it influenced later day Aston Martin, Maserati & dare I say TVR. Pinnin Farina had produced a road car of stunning beauty and refinement that was still a pure thoroughbread. The 375 was possibly the first super car to be offered as a road going car that was distinctly different from the race offered car but took nothing away from the performance. The pop-up headlights and slat air vents that became synonymous with Ferrari were first intoroduced on this car.

The 375 America looked closer to the 250 Europa than the 375 Coupe or 375 MM versions of the car. The car was softer and less aggressive in it’s stance. Ferrari marketed the car heavily on its performance.

1953 Ferrari 250 Europa
Ferrari 250 Europa
3.0 L, V12 engine producing 218 km/h from 200hp.
The 10th model in 1953 (I said it was a big year for manufacturers!) was the 250 Europa. An upgrade from the 212 Inter with improved performance, it was more refined than some of the race and GT models on offer that year. Pinnin Ferina offered several different styling options with the 250 Europa to experiment with different tastes.

1954 Ferrari 750 Monza
Ferrari 750
3.0 L, 4 cylinder engine with 250hp and top speed of 265 km/h.
Noted as the start of a consistent stream of 3.0 litre barchetta, the 750 had a hard time competing with the Mercedes Benz 300 SLR’s which dominated.

1954 Ferrari 250 Monza
Ferrari 250 Monza
3.0 L, V12 engnie producing 240hp and top speed of 250 km/h.
Ferrari used the 4 cylinder engines in the smaller race prepared cars and the larger V12 engine in the GT’s and customer focused cars in the mid-fifties as a theme. the 250 Monza had a relatively poor career as a racing car.

1954 Ferrari 375 Plus
Ferrari 375 Plus
5.0 L, V12 engine roducing 330hp with a top speed of 280 km/h.
As previously mentioned, the 375 Plus was an increased version of the previous car. It had sucess on circuits where it could utilise its top end power at 6000rpm but was troubled by tighter courses.

1954 Ferrari 250 Europa GT
Ferrari 250 Europa GT
3.0 L, V12 with top speed of 230 km/h and 220hp.
seemingly a simple update of the old 250 Europa, the 1954 version had a slightly bigger engine and power increase but also included lots of luxurious features that were aimed at an ever increasingly upmarket clientèle.

1955 Ferrari 118 & 121 LM
Ferrari 118
118 – 3.7 L, 6 cylinder in line engine producing 270 km/h from 280hp.
121 – 4.5 L, 6 cylinder in line engine producing 270 km/h from 3300hp.
The first 6 cylinder engine for Ferrari from the concept 306 S never made it out of the prototype stage but the engine found its way into the 118 & 121 models. Unfortunatly for Ferrari, the all conquering Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR’s of Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio were just to superior to them despite their obvious power. The 6 cylinder engine would be put to rest until the Dino model over 10 years later.

1955 Ferrari 410 S
Ferrari 410 S
5.0 L, V12 powered to 280 km/h by 380hp.
Another Ferrari which on paper should offer so much that failed to deliver in competition. The transmission simply failed to withstand the stress of the 380hp engine.

1956 Ferrari 410 Superamerica & Superfast
Ferrari 410 Superfast
5.0 L, V12 engine with 340hp and top speed of 260 km/h.
With classic race car front styling and rear wings to suit the US market these strange looking models were launched in Europe but almost certainly specifically aimed at a US audience.

1956 Ferrari 500 TR
Ferrari 500 TR
2.0 L, 4 cylinders in line engine with 190hp producing a top speed of 245 km/h.
The little Ferrari held it’s own against Rossa cars of the day. Almost exclusively driven by privateers, the 500 TR was styled elegantly but a capable beast in the 2000cc category races.

1956 Ferrari 290 MM & 290 S
Ferrari 290
3.5 L, V12 engine with 320hp producing a top speed of 280 km/h.
Ferrari went back to the V12 after a stint with the 410 S and the result was a car that although had a shady start went on to win the 1956 Mille Miglia by over half an hour from Juan Manuel Fangio, an incredible performance in terrible conditions.

1956 Ferrari 860 Monza
Ferrari 860
3.5 L, 4 cylinders in line engine with 280hp producing a top speed of 260 km/h.
A green nose 860 in the years Mille Migila had a distinguished photographer on board who took an amazing sequence of photos from the entire race. The 1956 car didn’t live up to expectations but an improved version from 1957 onwards started to have an affect against the ever dominating German manufacturers.

1956 Ferrari 625 LM
2.5 L, 4 cylinders in line engine producing a top speed of 250 km/h from 225hp.
After the horrendous crash at Le Mans in 1955 that killed 81 spectators, the Automobile Club imposed a 2500cc limit for the 1956 race on sports prototypes. Because of the bigger engines in the current line up, Ferrari had to specifically develop a car for the race, which was the 625 LM. Of the 3 625’s that entered, only 1 finished in third behind the D-Type Jaguars (which had a 3.4 L engine but were only admitted after Jaguar successfully argued they had sold 50 of the model).

1956 Ferrari 250 GT Competizione
Ferrari 250 GT
3.0 L, V12 engine with 260hp and top speed of 250 km/h.
Latterly, better known as the Tour De France (due to Ferrari winning the series from 1956 to 1964), the LWB version of the 250 GT was unbeatable. The 250 GT series was one of the most endearing Ferrari with a monumental racing career winning practically everything in its path. The 250 GT cars also became well known as the best sports Grand Tourers on the market, encouraging Ferrari to push production numbers even further, something they had pretty much only done out of necessity to this point.

1957 Ferrari 500 TRC
Ferrari 500 TRC
2.0 L, 4 cylinders in line engine producing a top speed of 245 km/h from 190hp.
This pretty car was the result of Ferrari having to incorporate rules changes for Category-C race cars – namely having a 1.2m cockpit that that could accommodate a passenger, rigid doors and also a semi-permanent hood.

1957 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet
Ferrari 250 GT
3.0 L, V12 engine producing a top speed of 220 km/h from 220hp.
One of the most sought after road cars on the planet at the time, incredibly sleek lines and elegant looks. Even the Aga Khan bought one for his missus!

1957 Ferrari 315 S
Ferrari 315
3.8 L, V12 engine producing a top speed of 290 km/h from 360hp.
The 315 (along with the 335 S) won the World Sports Car Championship in 1957 for Ferrari. Winning the last Mille Miglia, finishing 3rd in Nurburgring and 5th in Le Mans showed great potential and reliability for the 315.

1957 Ferrari 335 S
Ferrari 335
4.0 L, V12 engine producing a top speed of 300 km/h from 390hp.
The big brother of the 315 S and part of the World Sports Car Championship winnign team. A 335 effectivly finished off the Mille Miglia when one of the cars careered off the road and killed 9 spectators just 10km from the finish.

1957 Ferrari 250 GT California
Ferrari 250 GT California
3.0 L, V12 engine producing a top speed of 268 km/h from 280hp.
Pinnin Farina produced the most exotic looking Ferrari ever for the US market. Famed for its agressive stance, the California had an impressive performance for a road car and production continued until 1962.

1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa
Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa
3.0 L, V12 engine producing a top speed of 270 km/h from 300hp.
Named after its red valve covers, this was one of the most successful race cars of all time with wins in Le Mans, Sebring (multiple), Pescara, Targa Florio and many others.

1958 Ferrari 250 GT Coup & Spider
Ferrari 250 Spider
3.0 L, V12 engine producing a top speed of 200 km/h from 240hp.
Up until this point, almost every Ferrari for customers had been produced almost as one-offs and on demand. The 250 GT Coupe became Ferraris first real venture into (mass) production standard cars. 335 near identical cars were built by Ferrari from 1958-1960, from a manufacturer who had hardly pushed 100 cars in total per year previously!

The 250 GT Cabriolet (first introduced in 1957) would see 200 examples built by 1962 using the same semi-industrial standards as the Coupe version. The Spider, however was to be more individual and produced in smaller numbers.

1959 Dino 196 S & 246 S
Ferrari Dino
196 S – 2.0 L, V6 engine producing a top speed of 250 km/h from 195hp.
246 S – 2.5 L, V6 engine producing a top speed of 250 km/h from 245hp.
Dino was Enzo Ferrari’s son who had passed away in 1956. Originaly named as an F2 car, the Dino was a name first given to a sports car in 1959 (Enzo had to wait a lot longer!)
The V6 engine from the F2 cars which had positive racing pedigree were hard to live up to and the Dinos struggled on the roads. The 246 was introduced at the end of 1959 but the little Ferrari still could not get consistent results.

1959 Ferrari 250 SWB
Ferrari 250 SWB
3.0 L, V12 engine producing a top speed of 268 km/h from 280hp.
The 250 Sports Saloon added to an embarrassing riches of cars that was the 250 series. The car had a proliffic racing pedigree and was totally stripped inside – the Ferrari that was born to race. This was the first Ferrari to have all round disk brakes and the first incarnation built by Scaglietti was developed in aluminum and weighed in at only 960kg!


About Author