Ferrari celebrates its founder's birthday

Buon cumpleanno, Commendatore! That's what we'd be saying today to Enzo Ferrari if he were still alive. But the founder of the Prancing Horse marque passed away at the ripe old age of 90 way back in 1988. If he were still with us today, he'd be 118 years old. And we can't help but wonder what he'd think of his legacy if he were still around to see it.

Enzo Anselmo Ferrari was born in Modena before the turn of the century – no, the previous century – way back in 1898. He started out as a racing driver, but soon found his real talents laid in preparing the racecars, not driving them. After achieving success running Alfa Romeo's factory team, Enzo struck out on his own - initially under the name Auto Avio Costruzioni (due to the terms of his previous contract) and then under the Scuderia Ferrari name.

Under Enzo's leadership and those that followed, Ferrari emerged as one of the most successful teams in motor racing. The Scuderia has scored more championships, checkered flags, podiums, pole positions, and fastest laps than any other in the history of Formula One. And though it hasn't fielded a factory effort in the top tier decades, it's still among the winningest constructors at Le Mans, with nine outright wins between 1949 and 1965 – outscored only by Audi and Porsche. It also won the Targa Florio seven times, the Mille Miglia another eight, and Sebring 12 times.

After famously rejecting a takeover bid from Ford, Enzo sold half his company to Fiat in 1969. He retained control until his passing in 1988 – upon which Fiat took over another 40 percent, leaving 10 to the Ferrari family. But now the company is independent again, having split off from the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles empire, and floated its IPO on the stock market. Though his son still serves as vice chairman, Enzo's prodigy and successor, Luca di Montezemolo, is gone. The road car division makes hybrids but no manual transmissions, the racing department hasn't won the Formula One World Championship since 2008, the theme park in Abu Dhabi welcomes more visitors than the factory museum, and the company makes a significant portion of its revenue these days from selling branded merchandise.

It's a very different company, in short, from the one Enzo founded back in 1947, but it wouldn't be here without him. The factory is celebrating with a raft of social media posts. For our part down here, to il Commendatore at the big autodromo in the sky: happy birthday, Enzo.
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