Born in 1898, between the wars Enzo Ferrari first drove for and then ran the racing team for Alfa Romeo. In 1939 he founded his own company at Modena, but it was late 1946 before the first Ferrari car, the 125S, was to emerge. This began competing in May 1947, and scored its first victory later that month. It was powered by a Colombo designed 1498cc V12, later growing to 1903cc (in the Tipo 159) and then 1995cc (Tipo 166) to follow the changing regulations for Formula 2.
The first Formula One car appeared in 1948 with a supercharged version of the 1500cc engine. With its magnesium block and using 1.6 bar of boost it generated 225bhp @ 7,000rpm.
All the first car were racing cars, and it was not until 1948 that the first road cars began to be produced, the initial model being the 166 Sport. Other variants of the 166 included the Inter and Mille Miglia, and 92 type 166 cars were built up until 1953. As was normal in those days, the bodies were built by a variety of Italian coachbuilders, including Touring, Vignale, Ghia and Farina. The engines also varied, from 90bhp to 155bhp, and the wheelbases from 2160mm to 2620mm.
In 1951 the engine was bored to give a total displacement 2341cc, with the car becoming the 195 to reflect the change. Around 25 examples were built until later that year it was replaced by the 212 with a 2563cc engine (140bhp with one carburetor, 170bhp with three). This model was built up until 1953 on short (2250mm) and long (2600mm) wheelbases, the total production being about 80 cars.
Returning to 1950, the lack of success with the supercharged 1500 led to the decision to build an eqivalent normally aspirated unit, which under F1 rules could be up to 4.5-litres. This new V12 was designed by Lampredi and initially appeared with a capacity of 3322cc.
The first road car with the Lampredi V12 was the 340 America (4102cc with 220bhp) introduced at the Paris motorshow in 1950. As usual bodies came from various sources including Ghia, Touring, Pinin Farina and Vignale. Shortly afterwards the 340 Mexico replaced the America and through different carburettors (three 40DCFs) and a higher compression ratio (8:1) produced 280bhp. A significant loss in weight also helped improve the performance.
Until 1964 all the road cars were powered by either the Colombo or Lampredi V12 engine monted at the front and driving a live rear axle. The bodies continued to be designed and built by various coachbuilders until about 1960 by which time Pininfarina had become the standard designer and Scaglietti the preferred constructor.
The 1960s saw the first mid-engined Ferrari, albeit with a Dino badge, and the emergence of independent rear suspension. In 1969 Fiat purchased 50% of the company, the remainder being purchased in 1988 after Enzo passed away.
By the 1980s Ferrari had changed to the opposite extreme, producing only mid-engined cars, but under Fiat the front mounted V12 driving the rear wheels came back to join that layout.
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