[Book Review] Ferrari: 75 Years by Dennis Adler

[book-review]-ferrari:-75-years-by-dennis-adler 

Editor’s Note: In Dennis Adler’s new book, Ferrari: 75 Years, he tells the story of nearly a century of motorsports history from the perspective of one of the industry’s most famous automakers. Martin Raffauf reviewed this exhaustive and thorough chronicle below, providing a summary of key points and a closer look at some of the iconic cars it features.

75 Years of Ferrari History Summarized

Ferrari is an iconic company—one of the most recognized brand names in the world. It was started in 1947 by Enzo Ferrari when he built the first car with the Ferrari name on it. He had spent the pre-war (World War II) years racing Alfa Romeos and preparing cars for various people under the banner of Scuderia Ferrari, his racing team. Post war, he decided to form his own organization.

Upon his return to Modena after World War 2, Ferrari explained his decision to start his own firm:

“My Return to Modena […] represented […] an attempt to prove to myself and others that, during the twenty years I was with Alfa Romeo, not all my reputation was second-hand and gained by the efforts of others. The time had come for me to see how far I could get by my own efforts.”

In the beginning, he focused mainly on racing—only building road cars for sale to generate revenue for racing. Eventually, he would prove the axiom, “win on Sunday, sell on Monday.”

The racing successes generated increased demand for road cars. Over the years, much of it just could not be met by the limited production facilities available. Even today, reported large deposits still generate long lead times to actually get a Ferrari car.

Black and white photo of Enzo Ferrari
Enzo Ferrari in the 1920s raced Alfa Romeos with some success, then formed a team to race Alfas for customers. The team was Scuderia Ferrari.
Enzo Ferrari supervising V12 engine assembly in the 1950s
Enzo Ferrari supervising V12 engine assembly in the 1950s.

Enzo was a smart and cagey businessman. Over the years, he hired the best people he could, including the likes of Carlo Chiti, Vittorio Jano, Mauro Forghieri, Gioachino Colombo and others.

It was the same when hiring drivers. Throughout the years, many champions have driven Ferrari cars, including Alberto Ascari, Juan Manuel Fangio, Mike Hawthorn, Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, John Surtees, Jacky Ickx, Mario Andretti, Niki Lauda, Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, and Sebastian Vettel.

Black and white photo of Luigi Villoresi winning 1951 Mille Miglia in Ferrari 340 America
Luigi Villoresi wins the 1951 Mille Miglia in a Ferrari 340 America. The Mille was a 1000-mile open road race through Italy. It was banned in 1957 after a bad accident killed spectators.

The history was, at times, turbulent. During the 1950s, racing produced quite a number of fatalities at the track via accidents. Enzo reportedly told drivers, “win or die, you will become immortal.”

Ferrari was a master at getting the most out of his people. Many drivers and employees did in fact become immortal in the 75-year history of the company.

In the 1960s, monetary issues forced Enzo to look into the potential sale of Ferrari. There was the famous interlude with Ford in the 1960’s, made famous by the recent film, “Ford vs Ferrari”. 1969 saw a partial sale of 50% of the company to Fiat. Fiat in later years, increased their stake to 90%.

Ferrari’s early racing success was complimented by a succession of stunning road cars:

Highlighted Cars from Ferrari: 75 Years

The following panorama highlights some of our favorite cars of the 75 years covered in the book:

250 Ferrari Testa Rosa
The 250 Ferrari Testa Rosa.
250 Ferrari GTO
The 250 Ferrari GTO
Steve McQueen with his 1963 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso
Steve McQueen with his 1963 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso Some said it was one of the greatest design achievements of the 1960s.
Keith Moon from rock group the WHO with damaged Dino
Keith Moon from the rock group the WHO, with his damaged Dino
Brock Yates and Dan Gurney standing next to Ferrari 365GTB4 in first Cannonball rally
Brock Yates and Dan Gurney ran this Ferrari 365 GTB4 in the inaugural Cannonball rally and won the event (New York to Los Angeles) in 35 hours 54 minutes.
Red Ferrari F40 parked outside manor house
One of the first “supercars”, the Ferrari F40
Red Ferrari LaFerrari parked on road near gated property
Later model “ultimate cars” such as the LaFerrari

Final Impressions of Ferrari: 75 Years by Dennis Adler

Denis Adler’s updated book on Ferrari has been timed for the 75th anniversary of the company in 2022. This is an updated version of his previous books on Ferrari at 70 years and 60 years (in 2006 and 2016, respectively).

The easiest way to explain the book is to start with what it is not. It is not a detailed racing history of the company. You will not find intricate race descriptions and finishing results by car, although it certainly talks about racing.

It is also not a comprehensive dissertation on all the various road cars the company has ever produced, although significant road cars are certainly covered by the book in detail. The book is really a journey through the soul of the company from 1947-2022. It covers major race cars, and races. It also presents various significant road cars in detail.

Through it all, you start to get an idea of the philosophy of Enzo Ferrari and the company he created. The book contains anecdotes from both the author and Luigi Chinetti Jr. (who wrote the forward), which give great insight to the kind of man Ferrari was and how the company came to be as it is.

Ultimately, Ferrari: 75 Years provides an inspiring and illuminating look back at Enzo Ferrari and the company that became his legacy. The forward by Luigi Chinetti Jr. is especially illuminating; it’s a mini history all by itself.

Interspersed throughout are some stunning photographs, many taken by the author himself. The book also features numerous car close-ups (both interior and exterior). Racing photos from the Ferrari archives are also plentiful.

Luigi Chinetti Jr. with yellow Ferrari outside Ferrari factory in the late 1980s
The writer of the book’s forward, Luigi Chinetti Jr., at the factory in the late 1980s.
Yellow Ferrari 275 GTS/4 NART Spyder in front of ocean at sunset
The Chinetti family was instrumental in driving sales in the United States. This 275 GTS/4 NART Spyder was the creation of Chinetti Sr and Sergio Scaglietti. Based on the 275 GTB/4, the cars were made for exclusive sale in the USA.

About the Author of Ferrari: 75 Years

Dennis Adler is an award-winning author, photographer, and historian. He has been on Good Morning America; The Today show, and CBS Sunday Morning. He has authored thirty-seven books on cars and firearms and has had over five thousand articles and photographs published in his 35-year career as a journalist.

Dennis Adler photographing 1952 Ferrari 212 Barchetta
The Author provided a lot of the photos for the book. Here he examines the 1952 212 Barchetta

This book provides a great look back over the past 75 years of Ferrari, with wonderful pictures along the way. It is clear that Enzo Ferrari’s bold decision in 1947 has proved successful beyond his wildest imagination.

Ferrari Roma parked on cobblestones near hedges
One of the latest creations, the Roma.

All Photos from the book Ferrari: 75 Years.

SPECIFICATIONS

Title Ferrari: 75 Years
Author Denis Adler (Forward by Luigi Chinetti Jr.)
Publisher The Quarto Group (MotorBooks)
Published January 2022
Pages 336
Photographs 425 color and B/W
Format Hardback with Dust Jacket
Price $50 USD
ISBN 9780760372098