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I was asked this question yesterday: What makes a Ferrari a Ferrari?

As I started to answer, I realised that this is anything but simple and has changed over the years. Not sure that what made a Ferrari a Ferrari in the Enzo era is the same as the Fiat era or the Luca era. Many of the core elements will have remained unchanged (IMHO, specifically the engine) but others will have evolved and changed.

Thoughts?
 

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I'll try to capture the essence of the Ferrari phenomenon, which is different to what makes a Ferrari a Ferrari to the driver. I'm not sure which of the two was asked - it could mean either.

Here goes:

Ferrari, more than any other manufacturer, has succesfully commercialised its race heritage and used its long streak of on-track successes to build and market road cars that are very exclusive, very fast, strikingly styled and that have a deep-rooted connection with engineering that is forward-thinking but based on evolution rather than revolution.

A Ferrari embodies success. That of the company itself, and that of the owner. It's the one car where you don't have to prove how fast it is or what it can do, even just the badge inspires awe.


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I asked myself that same question in 1974 just before I bought my Dino in Italy.

I learned that it is love, passion, history, excitement, and automotive romance not available today except with Ferrari.

It's a direct connection to Enzo's past passion.

Cars today are so electronic and gimmicky that the fun is gone.

Does anyone think historically of the founder of Honda, Toyota, Nissan, GM? Hardly. What's the romance there? Nothing.

So far Ferrari has kept a bit of simplicity and hopefully will continue to do so, and the love and passion grows.
 

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Does anyone think historically of the founder of Honda, Toyota, Nissan, GM? Hardly.
This is very true, the only one that comes up to my attention other than Enzo immediately would be Ferruccio Lamborghini. I am not to big a fan of Lambos though.
 

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I think there are plenty of charismatic founders of motor companies (Porsche, Ford, Shelby, Honda (!), Benz, Daimler, Maserati, Bugatti, Bentley, Rolls & Royce and I could go on and on). Besides that, I think the general public knows practically nothing about Enzo or at least there are plenty who think a Ferrari is special that don't.

So to me the fact that Enzo was a charismatic and eccentric figure is not what makes a Ferrari a Ferrari. I think it is much more due to the decisions he made - to focus on racing and to try and produce the very top-end in motorcars both on-track and off.


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That is a tough question and I guess in many ways the answer is subjective. I think what makes a Ferrari ‘a Ferrari’ comes in some part from the fact that Enzo needed the road cars to fund the racing team.

Racing was his obsession and he wanted to be the best at it, which he became. But as with every obsession there comes a time when you need money to help it along, and so the road cars became necessary. The racing technology/obsession inevitably found its way into the road cars – the engines, the slotted gate, the beautiful aerodynamic shapes, the Racing Colours, and the sound from the engine.

A lot of car manufacturers have cultivated racing teams for R&D, but I think that the difference with Ferrari is that, Ferrari was a racing team that became a car manufacturer.





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Lots of great replies and I'll put in my two cents: Remember, this is coming from a non owner, but true gearhead. As well as someone who was loaned an F430 for the night.

I think what makes a Ferrari a Ferrari is predominantly it's legendary history. To know that Enzo's passion was racing and to provide the public a chance to technically be part of that history is what helps. I knew as a kid that Ferrari's were nice cars, but never really was able to sample it until November of last year. After driving (more like experiencing) an F430 for the night I can truly say,,,,"I get it now."

Sure, there are some that buy it "just because", but I don't think applies to many. My opinion is that Ferrari owners know what they have and really understand what Ferrari is all about.
 

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As a small boy in the 60's I seen the racing Ferrari's on TV while watching with my Dad. I didn't know what they were but there was something that just made them stand out from the rest to me. The sound was different to the rest and it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand. I asked my Dad what they were and I remember his tone when he answered. "That's a Ferrari". My Dads a quiet man but the words came out like he was proud of what he had just said. It ment something to him. That was enough for me, I was hooked from that day and was determind to find out more about these red (well dark grey, it was a black and white TV) cars.

I bought books until the shelves couldn't hold anymore. I collected just about every toy Ferrari I could afford to buy (over 1000 easily now) but I never sat in one until my 17th birthday (there weren't a lot around thanks to the troubles). It was a red Dino. The owner took me out in the car and that was the day I really got what it was all about.
The noise from the engine sounded special. Nothing else has that sound. After reading all the books about how the cars sound I'd experienced it and it really was a case of Wow. I finally could understand the history a lot better. Yes Enzo Ferrari viewed the road cars with contempt but they had the DNA of the race cars and thats why they were different to the rest. to me (rightly or wrongly) everyone at Ferrari didn't know how to make a road car, so they made race cars for the road and that's what made them what they are.

It took me 30 years to save for my first one, A black Mondial, I'd bought a piece of Ferraris history. Yes Fiat had stepped in by this time and were making Ferrari a little more commercial, it didn't matter, I'd bought, for me a car that was made by the most famous racing company in History.

I now own a 308 GTS which I adore and have a house full of so many Ferrari bits and pieces I've had to box a lot of them. I hope I'm fortunate enough to always have a Ferrari in the garage. My kids sit with me every GP and shout for the Ferrari's to win simply because their Dad thinks these thing are special so they must be. And this is what makes a Ferrari, Ferrari to me. It's all these emmosions when I see or hear one. Quite simply Ferrari.
 

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A Ferrari is a Ferrari. Most people that own classic Ferrari cars know the history.
I read Ferrari books and Ferrari magazines, I try to learn as much as I can about certain models. For me Ferrari is a hobby and a way of life. I have always been a car guy. In the 60s I had muscle cars. I always wanted a Ferrari 246. There was not a Ferrari Dealership in Jacksonville Florida. But there is Brumos Porsche, from the 60s and to this day Brumos wins races. So my first exotic was a 911(por-cha). Thru the years I have had many Porsche cars. It was always a thrill to see a Ferrari. My first was a Mondial 8, I kept it for a couple of years and I now have a 308GTSQV.
For me it is the history of Ferrari, the sound of the engine and the look of the 308.
 

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Great question! This whole forum embodies the answers to that question. Just read around to comments and past histories and experiences of owning a ferrari.
 

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Being the forum Lotus nut, I must draw an obvious comparison that was missed in the earlier posts:

Both Ferrari and Lotus
- were founded by a charismatic man who really only cared about racing
- built road cars to support the racing addiction
- earned success at LeMans, followed by numerous Formula One championships
- build uniquely designed cars by hand
- have resisted loading them up with gadgets that take away driver involvement.

I like Lamborghinis and have come very close to buying one at times, but for people who really do care about racing heritage, your average Chevrolet on the street has more racing heritage than any Lamborghini!


As for what makes a Ferrari a Ferrari, I think a few of us answered that nicely (and at length) for a student in a thread a few weeks ago. :) But if I were to put it in a nutshell, I'd say:

- engine is at the top of its class in power, AND is proven durable for racing/track conditions
- beautiful body designed by Italian artist or artists
- sense of tradition and classic throughout -- resisting fad in favor of something more solid or proven, both in engineering and aesthetics
- has that intangible quality of beauty and sweetness throughout, including areas that most people don't consider necessary for a sports car
- built at the Ferrari factory - duh! :)
 

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with the latest influx of items [CA?], it might be well to say what Ferrari is NOT.
Sort of the negative approach, but more superficial.

But, Here I go...what it is. The ability to be at the top of the game, the ability to keep a venue desirable and relevant, the ability to make it historically a talking point with not so much discussion as vindication and support, where passion is welcomed and experienced by every Tiffosi. The family is more well grounded than other venues due to history and not be topped soon.

What it is not, I would like to think, cannot be fit in the above lines. However, we are seeing the change of an era. Let's face it, our cars may always be produced, but never as a general mode of transportation in another few decades: Time marches on......
 

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I asked my Dad what they were and I remember his tone when he answered. "That's a Ferrari".
My father said it to me, I have said to my daughter, and I have heard many say it as I drive slowly past. Its the emphasis on the name that makes it special. It embodies so many elements, as each of the above posts (and others in this forum) to so many people.

Here are some thoughts that come to mind when I think of Enzo's heritage

F ast
E motion
R are
R acing Heritage
A we
R adical
I magination

For me, buying my car was "Fulfilling a Life's Dream". Enzo fulfilled a dream, his dream allowed me to fulfil mine, and I have seen young boys look at Ferrari's and start to dream.

“Man, alone, has the power to transform his thoughts into physical reality; man, alone, can dream and make his dreams come true.” Quote:Napoleon Hill

"Dream no small dreams. They have no power to stir the souls of men." Quote:Victor Hugo

Maybe Ferrari is Ferrari because Enzo dreamt big, and instilled his passion as a culture within the company, passed through the generations, he managed to find a way to stir our souls!
 

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As a small boy in the 60's I seen the racing Ferrari's on TV while watching with my Dad. I didn't know what they were but there was something that just made them stand out from the rest to me. The sound was different to the rest and it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand. I asked my Dad what they were and I remember his tone when he answered. "That's a Ferrari". My Dads a quiet man but the words came out like he was proud of what he had just said. It ment something to him. That was enough for me, I was hooked from that day and was determind to find out more about these red (well dark grey, it was a black and white TV) cars.

I bought books until the shelves couldn't hold anymore. I collected just about every toy Ferrari I could afford to buy (over 1000 easily now) but I never sat in one until my 17th birthday (there weren't a lot around thanks to the troubles). It was a red Dino. The owner took me out in the car and that was the day I really got what it was all about.
The noise from the engine sounded special. Nothing else has that sound. After reading all the books about how the cars sound I'd experienced it and it really was a case of Wow. I finally could understand the history a lot better. Yes Enzo Ferrari viewed the road cars with contempt but they had the DNA of the race cars and thats why they were different to the rest. to me (rightly or wrongly) everyone at Ferrari didn't know how to make a road car, so they made race cars for the road and that's what made them what they are.

It took me 30 years to save for my first one, A black Mondial, I'd bought a piece of Ferraris history. Yes Fiat had stepped in by this time and were making Ferrari a little more commercial, it didn't matter, I'd bought, for me a car that was made by the most famous racing company in History.

I now own a 308 GTS which I adore and have a house full of so many Ferrari bits and pieces I've had to box a lot of them. I hope I'm fortunate enough to always have a Ferrari in the garage. My kids sit with me every GP and shout for the Ferrari's to win simply because their Dad thinks these thing are special so they must be. And this is what makes a Ferrari, Ferrari to me. It's all these emmosions when I see or hear one. Quite simply Ferrari.

Fantastic post! I enjoyed looking at your website.
 

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Lots of great examples of what makes a Ferrari special.
Here’s my take:

A Ferrari is many things; a beautiful work of art, a mechanical masterpiece, a tangible sign of success.

A Ferrari excites your senses, from the smell of the stitched interior to the cold touch of the machined shift knob. They look incredible but they don’t need to be seen to be experienced. (Just listen to a 360 CS)

Few cars can ignite that imperceptible feeling you feel in the pit of your stomach. The butterflies when you’re near one. The tingling you feel when you hear the hand-made engine scream.

Their motors aren’t merely means of propulsion. They are presented and shown with as much respect and detail as any exterior part on the car. Part of the beauty in these cars is recognizing the engineering beauty within.

They’re not built, but crafted from aluminum, carbon fiber and steel. They are some of the world’s best materials fashioned into some the world’s best cars.

Ferrari’s have heritage and racing history inside every single car. Ferrari knows this, and they’re careful not to tarnish the name they’ve created. *cough cough, Porsche panamera, cough*

Performance is in the DNA of Ferraris and while they may not always be the fastest, they still certainly deliver. Driving one is a singular experience in itself. One that every person should have the pleasure of participating in.

When you drive a Ferrari, you’re not driving simple transportation. You’re driving a car that was built to excite, to race, to inspire. You’re driving 60 years of racing heritage, experience and technological innovation.

Simply put, a Ferrari is pure human passion expressed in the form of a car; an endless pursuit of automotive excellence.

By the way, I still like Porsche :)
 

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I would not repeat what's said already. Simply put, the Latin blood that makes it different from say, ...German, American and Japanese ? If this makes any sense. w/ smiles Jimmy
 

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Fantastic post! I enjoyed looking at your website.
and yet... I'd still go for his '71 Fiat 500 :D

But seriously... this is a very hard question to answer. You certainly would not like MY answer as I don't like ferrari. But I do like other cars and I think the driving force behind the love for a car or a car-maker can be explained no matter what car it is. Having said that, I have several reasons to like (or dislike for that matter) several cars. Historical significance and influence, sound, looks, power, racing pedigree and so on... I can understand why someone would see those qualities in any ferrari. I for one only see it in OLD ferrari's, but that's personal. I think that ferrari konda sorta sold out by making lots and lots of cars for the "masses". I don't like it. ferrari should be really really really really exclusive. Like all the old ones are now. But I digress. ferrari is ferrari because it makes some grown men feel like a little boy. I think ferrari is like a fireman's truck or the Space Shuttle for a 6-year old: "That's what I want when I grow up".
 

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I think you have a very valid argument there, Basosz. Especially, regarding the comment on Ferraris of Enzo's dominance versus the modern Fiat Ferrari. Ferraris are great, no doubt, but not the almighty in any sense. One would be missing out a lot if one claims Ferraris as the ultimate and rule out other wonderful and exciting to drive cars. I for one, is fascinated by older, tiny Italian cars like Fiat, Aabrth, Lancia, etc. (of course, Lotus, et al too). I am glad you brought out this other point of view. Thanx w/ smiles Jimmy
 
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