Enzo Ferrari: Power, Politics and the Making of an Automobile Empire

Enzo Ferrari: Power, Politics and the Making of an Automobile Empire
Among the merits of this book there is the description of Enzo Ferrari during his first forty years, before he became the most acclaimed, successful (and published) car manufacturer in the world.

The Luca Dal Monte‘s description (enriched even thanks to the memories of Franco Gozzi, who was thirty years at the side of the Drake) is enlightening: Enzo Ferrari is a person with an intelligence out of the ordinary who, since very young, manages to convince other to do what he wants.

Few years of competitions are enough to make Ferrari clear that he doesn’t have the talent of Ascari, Campari, Nuvolari: he stops racing and takes advantage of the bland interest in the car competitions of Nicola Romeo to cut out a leading role as an organizer in the Alfa Romeo racing department.

When the Scuderia Ferrari was established in 1929, 130,000 of the 200,000 Lire of share capital was paid by the Caniato brothers. Ferrari doesn’t contribute even if he could, he has taken advantage of the only mistake of his life, the Carrozzeria Emilia, liquidated in 1922 after having participated with 35,000 Lire – 18 € – (out of 50,000) in the share capital. From that affair Ferrari develops a creed to which he will be faithful throughout his life: in any company he would run he will never invest his money.

Ferrari

The Scuderia Ferrari runs with MG, Fiat, Maserati and Alfa Romeo.
If the Caniato (practically the majority shareholders) want to compete with the cars of the association they must pay, like any other driver. When they leave the Scuderia the share capital is enriched by Count Trossi. Drake goes on remaining defiled and places 20% of the shares in Pirelli and Alfa: a young man in his early thirties convinces two of the biggest companies in the country to believe in him.

The agitator of men and ideas has a good instinct even when it comes to choosing people. Luigi Bazzi, an excellent designer who will collaborate with Ferrari until the seventies, mentions the name of Vittorio Jano even if he knew that his arrival would have meant giving the technical direction to the Turin technician.

Gilles

If Bazzi silently accepts to play a subordinate role, someone else claims a place in the sun aloud: in 1933 Nuvolari breaks the association with Ferrari, calling him an exalted.

The pilot’s statements are a delight for the sports press, which reports the sharp judgment of the former employer to large letters. Who thinks it is the end of a relationship must change his view: Ferrari knows that to beat the fierce German producers must come to terms with Nuvolari. He forgets to be a proud person, he mends fences, he asks for help from Alfa and Pirelli: only united one can think of being able to compete against the Auto Union and the Mercedes generously financed by the Nazi government.

The relationship with the pilots will be complex even after the war: Phil Hill, world champion with Ferrari in 1961, will remember that
“Being in Ferrari was like banging my head to the wall every day. But it was the most beautiful wall in the world. ”

Ferrari

In 1937 Ferrari recorded another economic success: he sold 80% of the team to Alfa Romeo, becoming an employee with a fabulous salary (90.000 Lire per year that will become 126.000 some time later) and an absolute freedom of manoeuvre (he doesn’t have the attendance obligation in the company). Working under a boss makes him uncomfortable and he does anything to be removed: he doesn’t take part in the meetings (without warning of his absence), he hires people who he wants with the salary he decides.

The general manager Gobbato fires him with another ton of money. Gobbato was an enlightened leader and unwilling to concessions (the Alfa Romeo archives still keep his letter to the mayor of Milan, where he denied the assumption of a backed candidate because “his incompetence bordered on guilt”): What Ferrari obtained was unbelievable.

Ferrari

All these results suggest a person who is perfectly aware of where he was going and with whom: whoever compared him to Walt Disney (who knows how to draw but stops doing it as soon as he meets someone who draws better) he did so advisedly.

Even the joke of another great of the cinema (Alfred Hitchcock) “Among my colleagues I only envy Disney: if he doesn’t like an actor he rips him up” seems to fit with King Enzo: the confidence made to Carlo Chiti‘s wife (technician director of Ferrari at the beginning of the sixties and the future founder of Autodelta) “I choose men, I exploit them, I throw them away.” is confirmed by several episodes happened to Chinetti (undisputed campaigner of Ferrari success in the United States), the same Carlo Chiti and Montezemolo.

The last one is involved only for two summers: at the end of the victorious season in 1975 he leaves Maranello and returns to the Fiat orbit.

There are those who suspect that the leaving was supported by Ferrari in himself, not too happy with the media success of its sports Team Manager. Until the arrival of Marco Piccinini (whose choice will be justified by Ferrari to Bernie Ecclestone with a stinging sentence: “I keep him because he comes cheap”) the Team Manager will last an average of one year. Piccinini will later become Minister of Economy of the Principality of Monaco.

Even the technicians live stormy moments: Lampredi is removed after the tests bench of a particularly unlucky two-cylinder, Chiti and Bizzarini unceremoniously fired, and about Forghieri (technical director for 25 years) someone insinuates that Ferrari had not found anything better than a “Find another one to replace him and I send him away” to justify his role.

Although the most desecrating definition was made by Leo Turrini (“Ferrari? A Fregoli three hundred per hour“) the many events collected by Dal Monte converge towards the description made by Indro Montanelli: “I remember a man who, to forget his private dramas, had thrown himself on an endless job, aware that he would only have one as a reward“.

It’s strange that the best definition was given by a journalist who has never had a driving license.

Title Enzo Ferrari: Power, Politics and the Making of an Automobile Empire

Publisher David Bull Publishing

Author Luca Dal Monte

Pages 988

Price 28.00 Euro (2018)

Translated by Federica Izzo

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