Most people associate “Testa Rossa” with the 1958 models or the later ’84 street car. Both have in common that they are powered by a twelve cylinder engine. As we know, Enzo Ferrari’s favorite solution: “I married the 12 cylinder engine and I never divorced it.” Less known is that the famous ’58 car was not the one, which started the tradition of the red painted valve covers, but it’s forefather from 1956, the Ferrari 500 TR. Interesting about this vehicle, it only featured a four cylinder engine.
Even if Enzo had a preference for the classic twelve cylinder engine, he was also let by objectives, which meant winning races. As smaller engines meant less weight, they became interesting for motorsports, especially Formula 2 what replaced temporary Formula 1 racing from ’52 to ‘54. The four cylinder engine debuted in 1952 and Alberto Ascari took it to win the F2 World Championship. Nevertheless the motor never reached the fame of the traditional twelve cylinder engine, nor had its full orchestral sound, it played an important part of the company’s success story, as it started the legend of the Testa Rossa vehicles and with this supported to create the company’s myth.
As it was a capable race car, drivers took it to races all around the world. One of them was Anna Maria Peduzzi, Ferrari’s first female factory driver. Earlier in 1934 she had her first mayor race, the Mille Miglia together with her husband, Gianfranco Comotti, with an Alfa Romeo 6C of the newly formed Scuderia Ferrari. The outbreak of the Second World War and her Polio infection stopped her race appearances until she returned in ’52. Four years later she went back to the Scuderia Ferrari and raced that year with the 500 TR. Together with her team-mate Gilberte Thirion they won the 2.0L class of the Paris 1000km, but mostly she stayed inside her home country Italy to participate at the different local events, like the Mille Miglia or the Targa Florio. As most of the Ferrari factory drivers, she owned the car and used it until ’59. All her post-war career had been affected by the consequences of her Polio infection, so she not only had to fight her competitors on the track, but also her limitations, as missing muscle power, but nonetheless she was talented and reached several favorable results.
Anna Maria, or “Marocchina” (Italian for “Little Moroccan Girl”, due to her dark skin), was not the only woman important for Ferrari. Enzo’s first wife Laura Dominica Garello Ferrari, was strongly involved into the administrative part of the company. This was not appreciated by the all, so that it came in 1961 to the situation that leading employees, including sales director Cirolamo Gardini and chief engineer Carlo Chiti gave an ultimatum to Enzo that if Laura would not leave, they would do. This was not acceptable for Enzo, so he separated the rebellious employees from the company.
At the end of the 1950’s Enzo recognized that his cars mostly got bought by male clients and that their wives’ often started to get envy, as they husband spent so much time with the elegant vehicles. Even if the husband at the end signed the sales contract, there had been an earlier decision making process, where the wife, family and friends play a relevant role. The car had to compete against other possible investments, as the cars from other companies, or also summer hours, yachts, luxury holidays, etc.
For this it would be beneficial for Ferrari, if the products and marketing are not only attractive for the buyer itself (husband), but also the other participants of the decision making process (wife). To reach this, the Ferrari cars should get more attractive for the female target-group. Fiamma Breschi received the task to ensure this. She proponed the engineers to implement small changes to the vehicles so that they get more appealing to women. As Fiamma was part of his “circle of trust”, Enzo began to send her to different races, as he in person preferred to stay in Maranello. Her mission was to report him later about the race week-end and the different incidents. Many times, he received different points of view, from her and the team manager.
Since the beginning of the 50’s there had been two types of Ferrari street cars; the ones, which could be used in races and the ones, which are only meant to be driven and enjoyed. Women became more and more a relevant part of the target group, not only that they allowed their husbands to spend so much time and money on the car. Some of them drove the cars her-selves, some few as race drivers, but most others only to enjoy the luxury vehicle and to be seen with it.
- H-G, Rachel (2010): “Anna Maria Peduzzi”
- Henz, Patrick (2016): “Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Art & History”
- Henz, Patrick (2016): “Business Philosophy according to Enzo Ferrari”
- Williams, Richard (2004): “Mistress of the maestro of Maranello”