If you ask the experts which was the first Ferrari car, you will get different answers. Some will mention the 1935 Alfa Romeo Bimotore. The concept of having two engines, one in the front and one in back perfectly aligns with Enzo’s philosophy that “aerodynamics are for people who can’t build engines.” At that time, the in the year ’32 presented Alfa P3 was technically inferior against the new competitors from Mercedes Benz and Auto Union. This not only in relation of power, but further the German companies included the latest knowledge about aerodynamics in the creation of their race cars. Also because of a limited budget, Enzo wanted to counter this development with the double of engine power. This solution was less technical complex and expensive, as it was mainly based on the idea to include a second identical engine into the car.
The Bimotore is an ideal example that motivated employees can achieve their liberty inside a company, it is not always necessary to leave a big organization and found an own company, especially as this means risk and limitation of leisure time. Depending on the personal character, responsibility and freedom to decide can motivate or demotivate an employee. To keep its key-employees, a company creates the required environment. If this is not possible or responsibilities get limited, the employee loses its motivation and may decide to change the company or create its own.
After ten successful years as Alfa Romeo employee, Enzo Ferrari had more and more disagreements with the company’s new technical director, and his direct manager, Spaniard Wilfred Ricart. As his responsibilities got cut down, Enzo saw no other possibility than to leave Alfa in 1939. As key-employee he had signed a non-competing agreement and due to this, he could not use the “Scuderia Ferrari” name for the next four years. To nevertheless start his own business, he founded already in ‘39 “Auto Avio Construzioni”.
The company created the 815, another often-heard answer to the question which was the first Ferrari car. It is known about Enzo that is favorite engine construction was the twelve cylinder, since he saw a Packard 299 race car. This US race car featured a 4.9 V12 engine and had been brought to Italy to participate there in different events from 1920 to 22. The Packard was owned and driven by Baroness Maria Antonietta Avanzo. Enzo recalled her later as “the first courageous woman driver of the postwar era”. In 1932 she started with an Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS Spider as official part of the Scuderia Ferrari. The Packard brought her not too much luck, once the car had been on fire at a race in Denmark, so that she had to drive the car into the sea to stop it. Later she sold the car to Alberto Ascari and remembered it with the words that the Packard “went from owner to owner, and no-one managed to get any good results from it except Enzo Ferrari, who said that it had given him the inspiration for his future 12-cylinder cars.” Due to Maria Antonietta, Enzo’s fascinating for the twelve cylinder engine started with seeing her drive that Packard 299.
Nevertheless for his own company’s first car he resisted to create a twelve cylinder, but instead used a more conventional eight cylinder engine. As most of the car’s components, AAC not manufactured them their selves, but bought them from the Fiat company. Thanks to this realistic project approach and have as much parts as possible bought and not made, the young company could achieve to finish its crucial first project, not only present the 815, but also employ it in such prestigious races as the 1940 Mille Miglia.
Of course Enzo’s vision was to build a successful twelve cylinder race car, what he realized seven years later, now not only with his own company, but also under his own name: Ferrari S.p.A. To develop this motor, Enzo could motivate Gioacchino Colombo, whom he still knew from his time at Alfa Romeo, to join the new Ferrari company. Colombo just had been laid off and so was free to take on new tasks. Both men had the same philosophy and been passionate about the twelve cylinder solution. The result, the famous “Colombo Engine” became an important step to establish the company in the market and fostered Ferrari’s myth. The 1946 version became base for many motors and could be found, for example, later in the ’48 125 F1, ’58 Testa Rossa until the ’89 412.
Enzo Ferrari answering to the question, which is his favorite model
“That which is yet to be built”
- Henz, Patrick (2017): “Business Philosophy according to Enzo Ferrari”
- Ludvigsen, Karl (2010): “Genesis 1.5:12”