The tragedy that killed Enzo Ferrari, the creator of the most desired cars in the world, in life

On February 18 Enzo Ferrari would have turned 125 years old.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
17 March 2023 Friday 23:28
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The tragedy that killed Enzo Ferrari, the creator of the most desired cars in the world, in life

On February 18 Enzo Ferrari would have turned 125 years old. He was a strong man from Italy and with an iron hand he led the company of the Prancing Horse. Strong, manipulative and calculating, the king also cried.

The situation was unbeatable. His father had had to travel 60 kilometers to attend a race in his childhood and was smitten by cars. When Dino was born, instead, cars were already there; first with the squad sheltered under the wing of Alfa Romeo and later with its own team and company.

He had the future ahead of him, but the symptoms of the disease appeared: central fatigue and muscular fatigue. The diagnosis was harsh: muscular dystrophy. Despite the fact that at that time there was no remedy, the young man completed higher studies in engineering and economics.

He had a trade, like his father. Unlike him, she also had diplomas. Although death tore him from life too early, he knew how to bring a fresh look to the company and apply mechanical novelties. Postmortem, he even got his own car: Ferrari Dino.

Enzo was just ten years old the day he paid a visit to the Bologna track. It was love at first sight, much to the chagrin of his father, who preferred to assure him of the comforts of his successful metallurgical firm. He was determined: the youngest of the family was going to be a pilot. He fulfilled it in the interwar stage. In parallel, he started building vehicles, with the rescue of parts abandoned in battle.

After a disappointment over the rejection of Fiat, he made a career as a driver at Alfa Romeo and as a builder of the competitive team: Scuderia Ferrari. By then his cars were already characterized by the emblem of the Prancing Horse, a gift from the Baracca counts, parents of an air pilot who was a war hero. From combat aircraft, the horse passed to competition vehicles.

Dino came into the world on January 19, 1932. He was from the beginning a grounding cable for Il Commendatore. He served as a refuge from the bad atmosphere that reigned between his mother-in-law and his wife, Laura Dominica Garello. In addition, as had happened to him with his father, he saw in the little one the continuity for the path he had been following.

In this regard, the definition that, already in his 80s, said in an interview was not accidental: “A racing car is like a son. The son represents the continuity of ourselves. One sends him to school, the day he returns as the best in the class he feels proud of the son. He then he understands what a builder feels when transforming a formless matter into a living mechanics, into a harmony of sounds ”.

It seemed that the path was not going to twist. But the bitter surprise hit him when her son was entering his teens. Lazy outbursts and motor problems drew attention. They did analysis. The diagnosis, initially hidden from the young man, was devastating: muscular dystrophy.

At that time, the disease had no known cure and Enzo Ferrari himself - busy building his own company after his departure from Alfa Romeo and the transition from Auto Avio Costruzioni - became involved in the search for a remedy.

Meanwhile, he urged his son to line up in an area linked to cars. Dino also wanted to travel the classrooms to avoid the suspicious looks that favoritism could raise in the pits and workshops. He did specialized engineering studies in Switzerland, where he also studied economics and business. He was a prodigy.

Together with the engineer Vittorio Jano, his father's right-hand man, they created a 1,986 cm3 V6 engine. Although it was intended for Formula 2 units, Dino's idea was to equip smaller and more affordable vehicles from the Maranello brand. The undertaking kept him busy until his last days, discussing details from his bed. His muscle tone was leaving him, but his mind remained clear. Finally, he died on June 30, 1956 at the age of 24. Don Enzo's life was never the same.

Darkness covered family and business life. Ford had been on the prowl to buy the company on the cheap, an attempt that fell through due to an agreement reached between Enzo and Fiat to sell a portion of the shares. The bad weather extended to the home, with a veiled distance in the marriage in times when there was no divorce in Italy.

Soulless, godless, Ferrari abandoned the Catholic Church. His ceremony in the storm was to visit the grave of his son every morning in the cemetery of San Cataldo, in Modena. With the pain on his back, he had to reinvent himself.

A few years later, he entrusted designer Sergio Pininfarina with a tribute on wheels. They presented a prototype at the 1965 Paris Motor Show. Three calendars later, the first production example of the Ferrari Dino 206 GT came out, with a V6 engine in a central position, an innovation that bore the credit of the honoree.

Soon Dino became a sub-brand. As projected, his creations were smaller, less powerful (with V6 and V8 engines, different from the V12) and more economical than those of the major label. He did not sport the horse on two legs, but the nickname of Alfredo in handwritten typography. After all, the brand bore its signature. The adventure lasted until 1976, when the firms were unified again. It managed to produce 3,600 vehicles that today are listed at 80 million dollars at auctions.

His memory was also fixed on the “Enzo e Dino Ferrari” circuit, in Imola, with frequent visits from Formula 1. At the initiative of his father, in 1981 a sector of the Milan Hospital was baptized with his name: still today, there diagnose and treat cases of muscular dystrophy.

Wherever he went, Enzo Ferrari was always accompanied by his shadow. He wore it in his dark ties and in her eyes. Therefore, he never abandoned the sunglasses for his public appearances. It was an indelible sign of mourning for a man always attentive to colors: the black windows, the characteristic red of his cars, the yellow background of the emblem (borrowed from the coat of arms of the city of Modena) and the giallo tone with which one dressed of his sports cars at the suggestion of a platonic love.

Because Don Enzo, always strong, had a sensitive side. He showed it with Dino and his other loves: his wife Laura Garello, his secretary and adviser Fiamma Breschi (muse of that yellow) and Lina Lardi, a furtive relationship from which their second son, Piero Ferrari, was born in 1945.

It was Piero, belatedly recognized, today a billionaire and owner of 10% of the company's shares (90% is from Fiat), who facilitated communication between John Paul II and his father when the Pope visited the Maranello facilities. It was June 1988. Convalescing, Il Commendatore could not get out of bed to shake the hand of the Supreme Pontiff.

Over the phone, listening to him and without seeing him, as in a confessional, he received priestly peace and rejoined the Church. Enzo Ferrari - rich, powerful and forgiven - however, never managed to recover from Dino's death. The pain only left him on August 14 of that year (1988), with his last breath.