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Ferrari 75 years: Autoworld exhibition celebrates Prancing Horse anniversary

11:18 05/09/2022

Calling all Ferrari fans – an exhibition devoted to one of the world’s best-known sports and racing brands is set to open in Brussels.

Running from 23 September to 4 December, there couldn’t be a better time to pay homage to this iconic luxury sports car as Ferrari is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year .
Autoworld in Brussels will showcase 15 exceptional Ferrari models, each one boasting a distinct pedigree, such as a limited number production, being driven by a legendary racer or belonging to a a celebrity.

Several iconic models will be on show, including the Dino 206 (formerly Clapton), the unique Daytona Michelotti, the 195 Inter Ghia, the 500 Superfast (by Peter Sellers), the 250 GT Spider LWB and the 308GTS.

Shortly after the exhibition launch, a special Ferrari Cars&Coffee session will take place on the esplanade of  Cinquantenaire park on 25 September.

Ferrari Autoworld

The Belgian connection

Belgium marks its own special Ferrari anniversary this year as it was 70 years ago that driver Jacques Swaters became the official Ferrari importer for the Benelux region. It made Belgium the first Ferrari importing country in Europe and the second in the world after the US. In 1952, Swaters founded the Ecurie Francorchamps and imported his first Ferrari, the 500 F2.

If the car manufacturer can trace its roots back to 1929 when Enzo Ferrari formed the Scuderia Ferrari racing team, the Ferrari story properly started in Modena in Italy in 1947, when the founder built his first competition car - the Ferrari 125 S. It was designed to outclass Alfa Romeo, which had just dismissed Ferrari as race director; the sports model promptly won a race in Piacenza, the first of a long series.

Building a brand

Other models followed: the 159 S and the 166 S, Corsa, MM and Sport. But the 166 MM Barchetta marked a turning point in the history of the brand as it was the first road-going Ferrari.

Some of the most prestigious Italian designers were called on to create almost unique models. They included Vignale, Ghia and Touring, and especially Pininfarina. The Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder (Pininfarina – Scaglietti) is reputed to be “one of the most beautiful of the Ferrari cars and one of the most gorgeous convertibles in the history of the automobile”.
In 1960, not only was the Ferrari 250 GTE the first to be produced in a series, Ferrari also became a public limited company (SEFAC). But it faced stiff racing competition from American car giant Ford and financial difficulties ensued. In 1969, Enzo Ferrari sold 50% of his company’s shares to Gianni Agnelli of the Fiat group.

Ferrari Autoworld

After the death of ‘Commendatore ‘ Ferrari in 1988, the Fiat group became the majority shareholder. But five years on, the company had only sold 2,289 cars and it looked to have come to the end of the road as a business.

In 2004, Agnelli appointed Enzo Ferrari’s former assistant  Luca di Montezemolo to head up Ferrari and turnover swiftly increased.

The company’s policy was to prioritise craftmanship over industrial production, in accordance with the ‘Formula Uomo’, which placed human well-being at the heart of the constructor’s considerations. Since 2016, Ferrari has no longer been part of the Fiat group.

Ferrari Autoworld

Prancing Horse logo

Ferrari is synonyous with its famous logo, the Prancing Horse. The image of the black horse was suggested by the mother of a world war one fighter pilot ace Francesco Baracca. It would bring Ferrari good luck, she said. He added a yellow background to honour his birthplace Modena.

In 1932, a yellow shield featuring the black prancing horse made its appearance on the Alfa Romeos of Enzo’s Scuderia racing team at the Spa Grand Prix. 

Scuderia Ferrari enjoyed Formula One success with Niki Lauder in the 1970s and the arrival of Michael Schumacher in 1996 also heralded a long period of Grand Prix wins for the racing stable. The team's 2022 drivers are Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr, who will be racing at their home circuit in Monza, Italy from 9 to 11 September.

After 20 years in development, filming started this spring for a biopic of the charismatic Enzo Ferrari. Directed by Michael Mann, actor Adam Driver plays the title role. The film is set during the summer of 1957 when bankruptcy loomed over the company.

Interest in this enigmatic man, who was passionate about racing and created one the of the most aspirational sports brands ever, does not look like its waning.

75 anni di Ferrari
23 September-4 December
Autoworld Museum Brussels
Parc du Cinquantenaire 11

Photos: Autoworld

Written by Martin Banks and Sarah Crew