7 Facts You Probably Didn't Know about Enzo Ferrari

Here are some interesting facts about the legend that is Enzo Ferrari.
Christopher McFadden

Enzo Ferrari led a fascinating life and went on to lead a successful racing career as well as build one of the best-loved sports car companies in the world.

He would also found and run one of the most successful racing championship teams ever known. Not bad for the son of a metal worker from Modena in Italy. 

Here we answer some common questions about the legend that is Enzo Ferrari and highlight seven interesting facts about his life.


How old was Enzo Ferrari when he died, and why did he die?

The great Enzo Ferrari died on the 14th of August 1988 in Modena, Italy. He was 90 years old at the time of his death.

According to sources like biography.com, the cause of his death is unknown, but he appears to have been suffering from kidney disease for some time prior to his death.

enzo ferrari f40
Ferrari F40. Source: Ferrari

Just weeks after Enzo Ferrari's death, the Italian Grand Prix was held. The result was a 1-2 finish for Ferrari, with the Austrian Gerhard Berger taking first place and Milan native Michele Aboreto second. 

It was, interestingly, the only race the McLaren did not win that season.

Was Enzo Ferrari married?

Yes, indeed he was. Enzo married Laura Dominica Garello on the 28th of April 1923. They would remain married until her death in 1978.

The couple had one son (more about him later), and Enzo did have a mistress, Lina Lardi, whilst being married to Laura. With his mistress, Enzo had another son, Piero. Because divorce was not legal in Italy at the time, Piero could not officially be recognized as Enzo's son until Laura's death. 

7 interesting facts about Enzo Ferrari

And so, without further ado, here are some interesting facts about the man and the legend that is Enzo Ferrari. Trust us when we say this list is far from exhaustive and is in no particular order.

1. Enzo was a WW1 war veteran

Enzo Ferrari actually fought during the First World War. During the war, Enzo served under the 3rd Mountain Artillery Regiment of the Italian Army. 

Although he did survive the war, his brother and father were less lucky. Both died, not from direct conflict, but by succumbing to a flu outbreak in Italy at the time. 

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Enzo himself was almost killed during the horrific 1918 flu pandemic across Europe. He was later discharged from the army and sent home to recuperate. 

2. Enzo's son died young

enzo ferrari son
Source: Repstatic.ic/Wikimedia Commons

Enzo Ferrari had one son, Alfredino, or "Dino" for short who was born in 1932. "Dino" was groomed to be Enzo's successor but he would not live long enough. Dino tragically died of muscular dystrophy at the age of 24 in 1956.

Enzo was devastated by the loss of his son and would, by all accounts, visit his grave as often as he could. In life, "Dino" had suggested developing a 1.5-liter DOHV V6 Engine for F2 cars. 

After his death, Enzo dedicated the Dino series of road and racing cars to the memory of his son, using the V-6 engine he suggested. 

Enzo did have another, illegitimate, son, Piero, with his mistress Lina Lardi in 1945. Piero would later become vice-president of the Ferrari company. 

As of 2015, Piero had an estimated net worth of $1.3 billion

3. The Ferrari emblem has a glorious history

enzo ferrari logo
Coat of Arms of the Baracca Family inspired Ferrari's logo. Source: Massimop/Wikimedia Commons

The now-iconic Ferrari logo, a black prancing horse on a yellow background, has a very interesting and glorious history. At one time, the prancing horse was the personal emblem of WWI ace Francesco Baracca and was painted on his fighter plane during the war.

Baracca would become one of the best Italian fighter pilots of the war and was a national hero at the time. He made the first Italian aerial kill of the war and would rack up another 34 kills throughout the war.

Baracca was killed in 1918, and according to the stories, his mother would later give Enzo the emblem for his own personal use. He gratefully accepted the gift, changing the white background to bright yellow in recognition of his homeland, Modena.

4. The death of Gilles Villeneuve deeply troubled Enzo

enzo ferrari gilles villeneuve
Source: Steve_Melnyk/Wikimedia Commons

Gilles Villeneuve was one of the greatest racing car drivers of all time. He would spend his last six years racing for Ferrari in Grand Prix racing. 

But, tragically, his stellar career was abruptly ended in a horrific crash in May of 1982. He was killed from injuries sustained during a 139 mph (225 km/h) impact that was caused by a collision with the March of Jochen Mass during qualifying for the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix.

This event appears to have deeply troubled Enzo Ferrari. He was so grief-stricken that he would keep a photo portrait of Giles in a permanent place in all of his homes and offices. 

5. Enzo was a very private man who suffered from claustrophobia

Enzo Ferrari appears to have had a very reserved life, despite his fame. He would rarely grant interviews and refrained from leaving his homes in Modena in Maranello. 

Enzo would leave under exceptional circumstances, like the Grand Prix at Monza and a trip to Paris to settle a feud between FISA and FOCA in 1982. He also reportedly never flew in an airplane, never traveled to Rome, and never set foot inside a lift.

According to sources like the Guardian Newspaper, Enzo suffered from claustrophobia, hence his reluctance to enter tight spaces like airplanes and elevators. 

6. The Ferrari F40 was the last to receive his personal approval

Enzo Ferrari F40
Ferrari F40. Source: Ferrari

The iconic Ferrari F40 is a mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive sports car. It was in production from the late 1980s to the early 1990s.

It was the successor to the 288 GTO and was designed to celebrate Ferrari's 40th anniversary. But, most importantly, it was the very last Ferrari automobile to receive Enzo Ferrari's personal approval prior to his death. 

At the time of production, it was the fastest, most powerful, and most expensive Ferrari ever built. Only 400 were ever built and were sold for a suggested retail price of around $400,000 at the time. 

7. He famously said "Aerodynamics are for people who can't build engines"

enzo ferrari aerodynamics
Source: Bobo Boom/Flickr

Enzo Ferrari famously once said, "aerodynamics are for people who can't build engines". 

"The quote was made in 1960 as a response to driver Paul Frère as to why his 250TR had a limited top speed at Le Mans. Frère asked this question because of the ungainly looking windshield on his car.

Ferrari was someone who had something to say about anything. With this answer, he means that if the motor is good, you do not need aerodynamics.

It seems his opinion changed over the intermittent years, as the aforementioned Ferrari F40 was widely considered one of the most aerodynamic cars at the time.

And that's a wrap. 

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