In the first of a look around some of the greatest museums in motoring, we find ourselves in Maranello
When I was 12 years old, my parents used to take us away for the summer.
We’d often go and stay in the New Forest for a week – a gorgeous slice of Hampshire perfect for walking and exploring and long summer days. In the centre of Lyndhurst – the New Forest’s largest town – there was a special place that young Jonny had never seen before. It was a Ferrari dealership. A bright red patch of Italy’s proudest sat right in the middle of a traditional British high street. Imagine the look on my face when, for the first time, I gazed upon more Ferraris than I’d ever seen in my whole life up to this point all in one place.
Upon driving into the small Italian town of Maranello, I was reminded of setting my eyes on the Meridian Modena dealership of Lyndhurst. The same sense of ‘wow’, the same increase in heart rate, the same sense of being in the midst of something truly special. This is the town Ferrari built, and don’t you just know it when you get there. The Prancing Horse is everywhere. Hire companies for excited visitors waiting to drive their dream machines line the streets, shops selling souvenirs, cafés selling human fuel, petrol stations selling Ferrari fuel – oh, and of course, everything’s red.
On the way into Maranello, an exciting taste of things to come as a Ferrari test car covered in camouflage followed my little Abarth before turning off into one of the numerous Ferrari buildings on the outskirts of town. A little more than five minutes later, we arrived at the Museo Ferrari, home to as many Ferrari treasures as you’re ever likely to find in one place.
The Museo displays many significant objects from across the history of the world’s most famous car manufacturer – one of the most striking being immediately as the exhibition begins. A mock-up of Enzo Ferrari’s office, his desk outfitted with a phone and ashtray with pictures of Ferraris hanging on his wall. It’s as if Enzo himself has just popped out for a minute – you can imagine how easy it would be to feel nervous waiting for ‘The Drake’ to meet you in that office.
Of course, the museum is littered with some of the finest cars ever made. Right from the simplicity and elegance of the early Ferraris, all the way through to the weaponised aero-heavy creations of the 21st century. In one room, a beautiful 166 MM sits behind the 1990 ‘641’ Formula 1 car raced by Nigel Mansell, the two race cars look like they come from different planets, despite only being seperated by less than half a century.
The demonstration of progress is further enhanced by the black LaFerrari sitting around the corner in front of some of design genius Flavio Manzoni’s technical drawings of the car.
In one room you get a visual demonstration of the progress, the constant desire to improve and be better that sums up the famous “The finest victory is that which is yet to be won.” quote from Enzo himself. Oh, and I haven’t even brought up the fact that there also happens to be an F40 sitting alongside a 275 GTB in that very same room.
One room in particular perhaps embodies Enzo Ferrari’s hopes and dreams for his marque. It lies behind a smaller, more modest room in which two Formula 1 cars sit facing each other. These Maranello legends were piloted by Gilles Villeneuve, perhaps the only pilot that Enzo Ferrari was truly affectionate to, and a man taken far too soon at the wheel of one of his cars.
After pausing a moment to walk around the cars of a man destined never to be an F1 Champion, you enter the room which crystallises the glory of the F1 team. It feels like a religious building in there, Formula 1 cars resting in a semi-circle upon a platform with a film playing behind them that shows some of the great moments of the Scuderia’s illustrious history.
When you turn around to face where you came from, a glittering wall of trophies from F1 runs up to the ceiling. These are the relics of Ferrari’s crusade for victory, collected from across the globe. In here you could almost be in Enzo’s imagination many years ago, when he first dreamed of what his team could become.
Some things you must discover for yourself, of course. To visit the Museo Ferrari in Maranello is to visit a place where you can see not only your dreams, but the dreams of Enzo, and all those who made Ferrari what it is.
There’s really nowhere else quite like it.
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