1987-1997 Years of Changes

A land og history, passion and talent.


In 1987, on occasion of the forty-year-celebration of his activity, Enzo Ferrari presents the F 40 model, which also happens to be the last car manufactured under his management. The model is meant to fully express the technical knowledge gained by the design engineers of the Maranello-based company to exalt the concept of ​​a sports car: exciting, powerful, mechanically supercharged and with no electronic controls. F40 is innovative in the use of materials, too. For the first time in the Maranello plant, Kevlar is what the chassis is made of and Plexiglas is used for the side windows and to cover the engine, which is thus both protected and on view at the same time. However extreme, the decision to manufacture the model is an excellent choice, being the forerunner for a line of road cars which are to be designed in the following years and performing a highly competitive spirit .  The models F50, Enzo, FXX and LaFerrari will be designed, in fact, the style of 288 GTO and F40.

The Pope at Ferrari works

June 4, 1988: this is an important date for Maranello, the date of a special visit. The town of the Prancing Horse has long been used to renowned guests, but this one beats them all: it is Pope John Paul II. Unfortunately, Enzo Ferrari’s health condition does not allow him to meet Wojtyla, a Pope whom he likes a lot since, as a young man, he has worked as a factory labourer. They can only have a phone conversation. The Drake is reluctantly absent, nonetheless the town of  Maranello welcomes John Paul II who also visits Ferrari works. The Pope immediately settles into the mood of the place: instead of taking the customary visit route and greeting the crowd from the usual white “papamobile”, he asks to get into a Ferrari that is promptly made available to him.

The Drake’s death

Less than two months after that extraordinary visit, the Drake, who has now been ill for a long time, dies on August 14, 1988 at the age of 90. He leaves behind memories full of admiration and gratitude in all his supporters for having contributed to a unique legend. Yet Enzo Ferrari, when interviewed by Enzo Biagi in 1980, stated: “I do not think I have any credit with anyone. I believe, first of all, that I have done what has made me very happy. “Ferrari was buried in the cemetery of San Cataldo in Modena, next to his son Dino’s grave.

Ferrari without Enzo

At first Enzo Ferrari is succeeded by Piero Fusaro. Later on, in 1991, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo is appointed with the highest office. For the next 23 years he will be leading the company, strongly committed to the heart and the spirit of the Prancing Horse.

The Ferrari Gallery’s opening

On February 18, 1990, Enzo Ferrari would have turned 92 and celebrated his birthday in attending the opening of one of his countless challenges: the Ferrari Gallery. The Drake’s death is followed by a period of uncertainty about the feasibility of the project, but then the working begins again, along with the research of the material intended for its setting up. The final decision assigns the building space partly in the current site and the whole organization is taken in charge by the City Council. All sort of valuable mementos pour on the Gallery: cars such as the 125 S and the Spider Scaglietti race car, drivers’ racing suits and trophies, memorabilia and iconographic stuff, some Drake’s relevant memorials or some close friends’ personal belongings. Everything is ready for the inauguration: the ribbon cutting ceremony ratifies the beginning of a story that influences present days: the Ferrari Museum.

Back to racing

Enzo Ferrari’s death is a severe shock to the whole company. His son, Piero, says of these moments: “When a decision had to be made, there was always a last stage, and that last stage was his opinion: he was the supreme leader. Now, all this is missing. “

Yet, the company, which is now an unquestioned symbol in the racing world, has to prove they can trust their own strengths: the objective is to design, to build, to race, to sell even more than before.

A racing version of the F40 is made, that is largely used in endurance races  by customer teams, while Piero Ferrari strongly wants the production of the Ferrari 333 SP, a high performance prototype participating in the IMSA Championship, albeit never officially but rather through satellite teams. It reaches its peak in 1995 when it succeeds in winning both the Constructors’ and the Drivers’ Titles, and in prevailing in the prestigious 24 Hours of Sebring.

The Difficulties of Formula 1

The years between 1980 and 1990 are poor in achievements. Ferrari fails to win either the World Constructors’ or the Drivers’ Championship; the competition with Williams and McLaren is tough and the Prancing Horse company miscarries to beat the rival teams.  Some of the best F1 drivers are going to sit at the wheel of Ferrari in these years, all with ups and downs:  the French Alain Prost, who has already won three World Championships with McLaren, the British Nigel Mansell and Jean Alesi.

The Gallery turns into a Museum

It is the year 1995: five years since the opening of the Ferrari Gallery. The initiative has been successful, a crowd of visitors is coming and the museum finance is on the credit side: in less than a year, 45,000 tickets have been torn off. Its management requires more and more commitment: the apparatus of the relations with the lenders is huge, extra staff shifts are essential to ensure opening times, and the Gallery needs a constant and accurate promotion activity. Given the success and the great interest shown by the public, the theory of an alliance of the City Council and the Prancing Horse Company becomes solid: the Gallery, owned by the Town of Maranello, relies on the direct management of the Ferrari company. The handover is officially on January, 19 that year.

From this moment on the Gallery, which is then referred to as the Ferrari Museum, steadily grows, highlighting a model of partnership effective in spreading the values ​​of Ferrari and its community worldwide.

So far, the Museum is a dynamic collection with both sections for temporary exhibitions as well as permanent thematic halls functioning as a frame, i.e. rooms devoted to Ferrari victories or Formula 1 and Gran Turismo cars, movie projections, F1 simulators, pit walls et cetera. The museum continues to expand, both in spaces and in the collection volume, testament to a legend that continues, going through every age.

A star is born

To cheer up the downcast mood of the Prancing Horse team, Michael Schumacher, a promising German driver, arrives at Maranello. He is already holder of two World Drivers’ Championship Titles with Benetton, and is going to prove to have all the skills to represent a genuine watershed in Ferrari’s history.


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