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A Relentless Passion
"It is an enthusiasm which is not a desire for gain and isn't even an ambition that drives one. It is a passion like a fever...."
He continues to build the modified Lancia Grand Prix cars which Fangio drove to the world title (probably to be improved this season by a beefing-up of the clutch assembly, which caused considerable difficulty in 1956), the competition sports cars (see drawing on page 58) which won the manufacturer's title and the slightly tuned-down touring cars on which the famed Italian coachbuilders lavish some of their best work (see pages 53-56).
By American standards Ferrari's factory is tiny. He employs only 350 men ( General Motors in 1955 employed 624,011) and he makes engineering changes with such rapidity that rarely are two models-even of the same make-exactly alike.
Ferrari depends heavily upon prize money for winning races to continue in business. When Mercedes-Benz swept the boards in 1955, Ferrari called on the big Italian Fiat auto combine for financial assistance. The rest of his income comes from the sale of high-speed touring cars-some to Europeans (customers include ex-King Leopold and his wife, Princess de R�thy), but half of his 100-car yearly output goes to the United States.
The leader of the touring line is the 410 Superamerica, whose 4.9-liter, three-carburetor V-12 engine develops 340 hp at 6,000 rpm. Depending on rear-axle ratio, body weight and the customer's nerve, this car can reach a top speed of 163 mph. The less expensive V-12 250 Granturismo is a three-liter, 240-hp (at 7,000 rpm), three-carburetor model which is said to be capable of 157 mph. Youmust pay at least $9,111 (f.o.b. Italy) for the 250 and at least $14,000 for the cheapest 410. These princely equipages, of course, take second place with Ferrari to the stripped-down, souped-up, scoop-nosed racers whose acceleration is phenomenal, road-holding exceptional and top speed frightening, and whose unmistakable unmuffled exhaust shriek fires the hearts of the volatile Italians.
Although Maserati is weakened by the loss of Stirling Moss (whose decision to drive British Vanwalls in 1957 may have been prompted more by patriotism than good business sense), Ferrari still has the best team of drivers going. With the prospect of at least some use of Fangio, who has elected to be a free agent for the coming season, and the services of the ascendant British star Peter Collins, the leadfoot Italian Eugenio Castellotti (SI, May 7), the artistic veteran Italian Luigi Musso, the fleet Spanish Marquis de Portago and the improving German Graf von Trips, the man from Maranello should have a laurel-strewn year.
If the Ferrari team doesn't make it to Argentina next month for the first 1957 world-championship races ("We pray to God and hope the Russians won't interfere," says Ferrari Racing Manager Eraldo Sculati. "At the present moment our prayers are stronger than our hopes") or to Florida's 12-hour race in March, watch out for the prancing horse when the European season begins. Enzo Ferrari's passion is not to be denied.