LaFerrari wowed fans at this year's Geneva motor show
Enzo Ferrari was born on 18 February 1898, and passed away on 14 August 1988
The 166 was originally produced in 1948 as a Formula Two racer
The Ferrari 500 Formula Two car won two races in the 1954 season
The new Ferrari 312T was introduced for the 1975 Formula One season
2004 saw the return of Ferrari's dominance of the F1 stage
The Enzo was produced from 2002-2004
The 195 was introduced to the public at the 1950 Paris motor show
The GTO was produced by Ferrari between 1962 and 1964
The Monza began production in 1953
1957 saw the end of the TRC after four years of production
Ferrari first showed the 250 GT Spider California at the Geneva motor show in 1960
The Ferrari 275 was a two-seat, front-engined model produced between 1964 and 1968
The 288 GTO is counted among Ferrari's greatest acheivements
The 308 GTB was introduced at the lower end of Ferrari's product range
The 355 was an evolution of Ferrari's 348
The Dino name has remained synonymous with Ferrari, even though it was only used from 1968-1976
The P4 was one of a number of prototype sports cars developed by Ferrari
The Ferrari 360 was powered by a 3.6-litre V8
The 365 was Ferrari's original grand tourer and was introduced in 1966
The Ferrari 400 was the first production model from the company with an automatic transmission
The Testarossa is another of Ferrari's most successful models, produced from 1984 to 1991
Ferrari's F40 was the spiritual successor to the 288 GTO
The 550, shown here in modified form, used a front-engined V12 engine
The 575 entered production in 2002, and was offered with an F1-style paddle-shift transmission
The 599 GTO delivered a lap time of just 1 minute 24 seconds around the Fiorano test track
The F40, introduced in 1987, was built to commemorate Ferrari's 40th anniversary
Ten years later, the F50 celebrated the company's 50th birthday
The Enzo went on sale in 2002
The F430 hailed a new generation of V8-engined berlinettas
The 458 Italia is considered to be among the best modern supercars
The F12 Berlinetta got its debut at this year's Goodwood Festival of Speed
We're quite certain that Enzo would have approved of the wonderful cars that continue to be built in his name
Thirty-odd years ago, when I met Enzo Ferrari for the first time, he was already in his 80s.
Somehow, though, it never occurred to me I’d ever write about him after his demise. He seemed immortal, both to me as a youngish hack and to everyone else at Maranello who ran his company, built his cars, did his bidding and invariably spoke about him in reverent tones.
He was retired by then, although he still came to the office most days and watched every race, accompanied by one or two people he liked. Strangers like me, if they met Enzo at all, saw him formally in the darkened office with the big desk that faced the portrait of Dino, his much-loved son who died at 24 of muscular dystrophy, always with a candle burning in front of it.
Conversations were never conversational, as it were. Though il Commendatore understood English he never spoke it — at least, not to people with their notebooks out. Translation came via Franco Gozzi, Enzo’s faithful lieutenant.
You always suspected that when the talk turned to business, Gozzi put words into the old man’s mouth. It was Gozzi, I suspect, who coined — or at least perpetuated — the founder's famous reply to the inevitable hack’s question about his favourite Ferrari: “the next one”. I always thought that deeply unhelpful: how great would it have been to know that Enzo liked the 250LM better than the 250GTO?
The second meeting was in company with three American hacks, about a year later, when a few of us were in Maranello to drive the new Mondial. We had quite a decent conversation (through Gozzi) about the improving expertise of Scaglietti, the nearby Ferrari body builders, who were gradually figuring out how to keep Ferrari corrosion at bay.
None of the transatlantic trio uttered a word, evidently cowed by the man’s legendary greatness. Later in the afternoon, as we drove the car in turns on the Fiorano test track half a mile away, we were ordered to stand aside while Enzo appeared in the latest Fiat Uno Turbo, accompanied by an overalls-clad test driver at the wheel and what looked like a local priest in the back. This curious trio did one stately lap and drove away — it turned out that Mr Ferrari still “anointed” every go-faster Fiat.
That was the same day Gilles Villeneuve, then a Ferrari works driver, appeared from the workshops carrying a bottle of red vino, jumped into his helicopter parked on a tiny pad right beside Fiorano's then-tiny pit building and, without ceremony, started the engine and flew away. Back to Monaco, they told us.
My third meeting with Mr Ferrari was a handshake and a “hello” at the unveiling of Ferrari’s ‘82 F1 car, the one in which Villeneuve was to die four months later.
My best conversation with him? It was during our fourth and last meeting, again in the long office, when we had quite an animated exchange (some of my replies didn’t even need translating) about “that strong woman”, Margaret Thatcher, the British prime minister.
Enzo very much perceived the UK’s leader to have a steely resolve comparable with his own. I can remember him smiling and remarking that our country’s economy was undoubtedly all the better for Mrs Thatcher’s decisiveness. Can’t remember how I replied, but Ferraris were selling well at the time, so perhaps he was right.
Driving today’s Ferraris, and comparing them with my memories of the man who started it all, I’m quite certain that Enzo would have approved of the wonderful cars that continue to be built in his name.