Fiat Steps In Motorsport was always more important to Ferrari than the production car business, and as racing became an increasingly expensive proposition, he sold off his company, a little piece at a time, to Gianni Agnelli, who headed Fiat, finally becoming a fifty percent partner with Agnelli in 1969—after Ferrari realized he could not match Ford for funding when the American manufactur- er campaigned its GT40 in the mid-1960s. (Fiat ultimately became the majori- ty shareholder in Ferrari in 1988.) But he had stopped attending races after Dino’s death, preferring to administer over the phone. Over time, perhaps, this technique did not serve Ferrari to full advantage, as his subordinates, fearing his considerable wrath, often told him news designed to keep him happy. He was always a down-to-earth individual, though, and fully appreciative of the irony of all this. “When I look in the mirror in the morning,” he once told a journalist, “even I don’t understand myself.” A tall, stately, white-haired patrician, Ferrari was fond of women, opera, and lambrusco; he loved gossip, particularly about the girlfriends of employ- ees. He had his own vision as to how his cars would be constructed, and stuck with it; integrity such as this is almost unimaginable in today’s marketing-dri- ven world. His country showered him with honors. He received the Cavaliere award for sporting merit in 1924, Commendatore honors in 1927, and Cavaliere del

This striking 1954 375 America was built for Prince Leopold. The aggressive and clean lines were the work of Pininfarina, who would go on to design many of Il Commendatore’s most memorable cars.


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