Ferrari sports cars are some of the world’s most beautiful, exotic and desirable machines. Their history and posters on here on the Ferrari pages. Click here for pictures and posters of these beautiful and exciting sports cars.
Enzo Ferrari was an aero engine mechanic in WWI and after that a tester for a company that converted Lancia truck chassis’s to passenger vehicles. He raced in the 1920 Targa Floria, he became a works driver for Alfa Romeo shortly after and from that moved into management of their racing team.
In 1929 Ferrari started his own racing team, and ultimately after WWII he started building under his own name Ferrari sports cars and racing cars. (More Ferrari history)
Ferrari Sports Cars
Ferrari sports cars were made from the same materials as the racing cars. Indeed the early cars were thinly disguised racing cars but eventually Ferrari bowed to public demand and began over time, to produce some of the most stylish and exciting sports cars that were ever released to the public. Pininfarina, the famed Italian designer, was responsible for the most stylish and classic shaped Ferraris. Bertone was also called upon for design work. Often the coachwork was built by Scaglietti.
At first Enzo Ferrari was not terribly enthusiastic about building sports cars as his main interest lay with the racing scene. However, he conceded it was a necessary evil if he was to continue to fund his racing cars. To start with, only small numbers of each model were made and the production runs were not very efficient.
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A somewhat confusing system combining letters and numbers was used to name the Ferrari sports cars. Some were even named after a race that Ferrari had won eg the 166 MM named after finishing first in the Mille Miglia road race in 1950, the 250 LM came from the Le Mans, the 1952 340 Mexico was so named after victory in the Mexican Road Race etc.
The Early Cars
Enzo released his first Ferrari sports car in 1947, the 166 Inter, with the engine designed by Colombo. It was modified from the original racer, the V-12 166. In 1950 the 166 Inter grew into the larger engined 195 and 212 Inters and finally the 212 Export. Altogether, there were about 250 of these cars built.
Breaking into the American Market
In 1951 Enzo Ferrari attempted to break into the American market with the Ferrari 340 America. It had a four-seat cabin offering some leg room to the rear passengers. This was also the first Ferrari imported into the UK. Lampredi’s beast of an engine was extremely long so the wheelbase was lengthened to 2420 mm. The 4101 cc V-12 produced 220 bhp at 6000 rpm. It had a five-speed unsynchronised gearbox and depending on the body style the top speed was between 130-150 mph. Twenty-five units had been sold when the America 340 was replaced by the America 342.
The America 342 catered more to the American culture by providing a more luxurious and spacious car built specifically for road use whereas his other cars were more racers adapted for the road.
The 342 had a synchronised four-speed gearbox however it was disappointing with poor handling due to the engine being placed a foot forward to give more leg room for the interior. Only 6 were ever made.
Following the America 342 came the 375 America in 1953, the 410 SuperAmerica and then the 500 Superfast built in 1955. These were only available to the wealthiest people, being some of the most expensive cars around at the time. Few were built and then to customers specific requests.
The Classic Road Cars
In 1953 the first of the stylish Ferrari 250 series were shown at the Paris show. The 250 Export and Europa were better road cars for their styling and purpose. About 50 of these were built. The Ferrari sports cars were now not so much racers that had been adapted for the road but were built specifically for the non-racing driver.
The release of the Ferrari Daytona in 1968 was a bit of a disappointment to the Ferrari enthusiasts as they were expecting a competitor to the Lamborghini Miura. Instead they got a conventional Grand Tourer. It had electric windows and was comfortably functional and was at its best once on the open road when the driver could realise the speed the Daytona became famous for. Over 1400 were built from 1968 – 1973.
The Dino 206 was a very stylish and sporty V-6 which was named after Enzo Ferrari’s son. It carried the Dino badge only and had no Ferrari logos. Following this model came the 308 GT4 in 1975 (styled by Bertone) and the more popular 308 GTB which was styled by Pininfarina. Over 20,000 of the latter were built. The 308 GTB developed into the 328 GTB in 1985 with a 3185 cc engine giving 270 bhp and a top speed of 160 mph (275 kph).
Built from 1973 – 1984 the ever popular Ferrari Boxer had a 5 speed manual with a 4.4 liter (269 cu in) flat-12 engine (boxer engine) which gave a top speed of 188 mph (302 kph). It went from 0-60 mph (96 kph) in just 5.2 seconds making it one of the fastest cars ever made! The Ferrari Testarossa built in 1984 was the successor to the Boxer. The side-mounted radiators and cooling side ducts became a distinctive feature of the model.
Present Day Cars
After 40 years of building the Ferrari marque, Enzo celebrated by bringing out the fastest Ferrari ever. The F40 is one the greatest Ferrari sports cars ever built, a real super machine. The rear wing gave the model a racing car look and is probably the shape that most people think of when Ferrari is mentioned. With a top speed of 201 mph (323 kph) the F40 was the fastest Ferrari ever made.
One of the goals was also weight reduction and the F40 used a lot of composite materials which were about 20% lighter than conventional materials.
The Ferrari F50 brought about a new look for the marque. It was based on the 1990 Formula One 641/2 and was simply adapted to be used as a legal road car. Many of the features and look of the car all said “racing”, however it was surprisingly nice and easy to drive. It had a V-12, 521 bhp engine and 6 speed manual gearbox. Only 349 built making this a rare model which when first released had an asking price of $555,000.
The present day Ferraris sports cars which are still in production include the 348/F355 and 550 Maranello. The Ferrari 348 has a V-8 longitudinally placed engine which enabled it to be placed lower on the chassis. This has given the 348 a longer length but more importantly it has a low centre of gravity, resulting in exceptional handling. The side cooling strakes are very similar to the Testarossa and the 348 has an elegant and luxurious interior. It is available as a coupe, targa or spider configuration. In 1994 it was upgraded from a 3.4 liter (207 cu in) 300 bhp to become the F355 with a 3.5 liter (214 cu in) V-8 381 bhp engine.
The 550 Maranello is a new front-engined 2 seat sports car that comes with a V-12 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic gearbox.
The latest version released in 2003 is the Ferrari 575 M Maranello. It boasts a 5.7 liter (348 cu in), 65-Degree V-12, Formula One 6-Speed manual transmission. The reviews rave about the handling and performance of this very special machine, one that will carry on the Ferrari line of technical excellence.