Horacio Pagani; Yet Another Great Car Guy…

Imagine driving in the most beautiful car you can imagine, high up in the Argentinian Andes.  The views of an amazing coastal city from this high up make it look like a postcard.  The windows in your car are down.  There’s amazing birdsong, and the occasional cry of an eagle.  There’s a curve in the road.  You turn the steering wheel one rotation, pull the handbrake, and you drift through the curve effortlessly.  You punch the skinny pedal, and a whir, rumble, and screeching of tires tells you that no officer of the law can catch you now.  You can’t have a care in the world except that you might break down.  This is the Pagani video of their new Huayra (WHY-RA).

Horacio Pagani is one of the least-known men in the auto industry.  He has founded Modena Design; an advanced composite design consulting company.  He has created some amazing cars such as the: Zonda, Huayra, and so few others.  Pagani makes special cars that look even more macho than a Lamborghini Murciealago (bat in Spanish) 670-4 Super Veloce (Super fast in Italian).  I personally happen to like the sleek lines of the Huayra (the newest car).  So, enjoy Horacio Pagani’s life story.

Horacio Pagani was born in 1955 to a family of bakers in Casilda, Argentina, on November 10, 1955.   One of his life-long friends said “We never ran out of bread…In high-school, we’d head over to his family’s bakery, and grab a loaf of bread.  Horacio would grab a pastry of some sort; usually a danish, and split it with me.  If we ever didn’t have bread, I’d hop on my bike, and go over to the bakery.  They’d almost always have a loaf of bread in the oven for us.  We weren’t poor; we were actually well off.  We just liked their bread.”  Horacio liked to draw cars, and would carve them out of balsa wood.      When he was 12, he constructed his first balsa wood model car that looked similar to a Porsche 917, missing the top.  Those early, small balsa wood cars designs have been transferred to the real world, and are now  seen on his cars today.  He also designed and constructed a Mini Moto (which he still owns) in 1971.

1972 was a big year for Pagani.  He received his diploma from a technical high school, and he also built his first car; a buggie with Renault mechanics (cannibalized from various family cars).

Horacio went on to study industrial design at the University of La Plata, in Argentina from 1972 through 1974.  The following year, he studied mechanical engineering at the University of Rosario, Argentina.  You’re probably wondering how he founded an automobile company in the first place.  Well, one of his friends asked him to build a “cool car.”  Horacio did.  His friend then asked him to convert it to a race-car.  Horacio did, and loved it.  Making race cars was just a full-time hobby.

In 1977, he began working at his one-man business of making race-cars in Argentine, Argentina.  He also worked on bar manufacturing and design, to support his small race-car business.

Due to a slow market for race cars, Pagani needed to diversify.  The following year, he started designing and building caravan campers and RV trailers.  He was selling them out of his garage.  Since he sold them cheaply, his clients were mostly serious campers on a budget, or radio stations in Argentina ( he would install them with a desk and microphone).  He also studied and designed a Formula 2 (F2) single-seater race car.  Formula 2 is what comes before Formula 1.  It started out as a street racer.

In 1979, he built a Formula 2 single-seater in his garage (only a part-time hobby…), designed and constructed a camper-van for Chevrolet pickups.  A few months later, he collaborated in a study for orthopaedic chairs and beds.

1981 was a very big year for Horacio Pagani.  He designed fiberglass reproduction cabins for the following; Chevrolet Cheyenne pickups, Ford F100 pickups, the Toyota Hilux, and Peugeot 504. While doing this, he also took a class on “Human Factors in Industrial Design,” at the University of Rosario, Argentina.  To add to this workload, he also designed a cabin for a combine harvester made by the Marinari, Argentina, company S.P.A.  It seems that wasn’t enough, so he designed two touring bicycles; for men and women.  Some of the cabins were hand-built.

The following year brought new and different challenges.  He designed and constructed a Mays JMF roughness meter, to be used to measure road deterioration.  It was commissioned by The Centre For Research And Development at the University of Rosario, Argentina.

In 1982 and 1983, Horacio Pagani won two scholarships:  one from the Rotary Club International For The Royal College Of Art (in London).  The other scholarship was from the Art Center in Pasadena, CA.  He also moved to Italy in 1983 to pursue his dream of working for Lamborghini, working as a design consultant.

At twenty-nine, his career got rolling.  He helped design the Jeep LMA, and was on the team at Lamborghini design and build the Countach Evoluzione; the first car in the world with a carbon-fiber frame.

For the next three years, not much is known about him (good and/or bad), but in 1987, he was responsible for the design of the Lamborghini Countach Anniversary.  Battista Pininfarina (the man who started the legendary coachbuilder company, Pininfarina) hated Pagani’s “subtle” design of the Countach Anniversary.  Yet, if you look at a picture of the original Countach, and then at the Anniversary Edition, you will see so many differences, it is amazing.

During the late Eighties, and early Nineties, he designed, engineered, and built various parts of a Formula 1 engine (Lamborghini uses the technology today in their sweet new ride; the Aventador).  In 1990, he collaborated in the establishment of design and engineering of the Lamborghini Diablo bodywork.  Later in the year, he built models and moulds, and transferred his know-how to Lamborghini, for the construction of bodywork, built with composite materials.  From 1990-1991, he designed the Lamborghini L30.  To get into deeper detail, he designed the bodywork, engineered, modeled, moulded, and used technology of composite materials.  Also, in 1991, he founded Modena Design.  Modena Design was a design consulting company that would help companies design, engineer, and help with anything in general.   In 1992, he collaborated in the design of the Lamborghini Diablo Anniversary.

Pagani left Lamborghini in the early nineties, to work for a Rossignol-Lange Racing partnership. There, he designed ski boots for snow mobile racing.  He started making parts out of advanced composite materials.  He also designed and started the prototype for the Pagani Zonda.

The following year, he worked at Nissan, where he studied spoilers for a race-car.  He also designed interiors for Automobili Lamborghini from 1994-1997.  During this time, he also worked for Aprilia; designing, moulding, and constructing parts for their 250/400  racing motorcycles.

He moved to Renault, and from 1995-1996, he worked at Renault France, engineering and moulding, for the prototype “NEXT.”  He also worked for Ferrari Automobili; making various parts for their Formula 1 engines.  Also, in 1996, he worked at Berman: designing, engineering, models & moulds and parts for the Suzuki Vitara/Dahiatsu Move.  In 1997, he did moulds and construction for the Dallara F3.  Dallara, by the way, is one of the best-known racing teams in the world.

A masterpiece of masterpieces was born.  1999 saw the birth of the Pagani Zonda C12 and it was introduced to the public at the Geneva Auto Show.  The following year, the Pagani Zonda S 7.o was introduced, where it’s ancestor had stood, just a year before.   In 2002, the Pagani Zonda S 7.3 was introduced by Horacio Pagani himself.  He also did work on the study and concept of the Chrysler ME412

2003 was a big year for Pagani Automobili.  The Pagani Zonda S 7.3 Roadster was introduced in the exact same spot that it’s ancestors were introduced in.  Two years later, the Pagani Zonda F was introduced at you guessed it!  The Geneva Auto Show, Stand 188.

2005 was an even better year for Pagani.  The Zonda F was introduced at Stand 188, Geneva Convention Centre.  Just two months later, a Zonda S 7.3 Roadster was the Pace Car for the Indy 500.  A Zonda F also won 14th place over all at the 24 Hours of Nurburgring.

Just another two years later (you can see a pattern here), the Zonda R was introduced.  It was called “the cool alternative to the Lamborghini Gallardo.”  But, I guess that Horacio Pagani begged to differ, so he introduced the Pagani Zonda Roadster F at the same stand… In 2008, the introduction of the super-rare Pagani Chrono, and the still  rare remaining Zonda R models got to be at the same stand.

In 2009, the Italian preview of the Zonda R was introduced at the Milan Auto Show.  The presentation of the Zonda Cinque, Zonda R, and the sound system of the Zonda R were all introduced at the same spot.

2010 wasn’t nearly as big as previous years, but it still deserves attention.  At the 2010 Geneva Auto Show, the Zonda Cinque Roadster and Zonda Tricolore (three colors) were both introduced.  A buyer could get a Zonda Tricolore in any three colors he/she wanted. The Sultan of Brunei ordered a Zonda Tricolore with the following colors: Bottom color: Matte black.  Middle color: Gold leaf plates.  Top color: Ivory sheets.  I guess that’s what happens when you have too much money…

February 18, 2011:  The Pagani Huayra is introduced at the worldwide headquarters of Pirelli Tires, in Milan, Italy.  Just a mere three months after, the U.S. was the first country to get a Huayra delivered to a customer.  But, the owner is a Canadian who met Horacio Pagani in Vermont, and then drove it up to Canada (nice road trip in a cool car…).  Just a few days after, Horacio Pagani flew to Japan, to introduce the Huayra to the Asian market.  He left Japan the day before the earthquake.  Isn’t that lucky?  I think so…

Trivia facts (look for answers Tuesday):  Do you know what Huayra means?  What does Zonda mean?  How long did it take Horacio Pagani to design and produce the Pagani Huayra?

Please check out the awesome website of Pagani at: http://www.pagani.com/

Watch the video of the Huayra in action!  Awesome!  The video is maybe five minutes, maximum.  It is truly worth those five minutes.  Besides, if your boss sees the video, they’ll need to get it too…

Harry Stutz, A Trailblazer on the Automotive Road

Harry C. Stutz was a very interesting man.  He was the first American automobile entrepreneur!  Here is the story of one of the most famous ‘auto-related’ Americans ever.  He was as American as Uncle Sam, baseball, or apple pie.  That’s about as American as you can get! It makes me proud to think that many automakers started out American, or with American CEO’s.

Harry C. Stutz was born in 1876 to John and Wilma Stutz, on a farm a few miles outside of Indianapolis, Indiana.  Cool trivia: John Stutz was a Polish Jewish immigrant who met his wife on Ellis Island while waiting to immigrate to the United States.  They were married on the ferry boat!  From a very early age, Harry was interested in mechanical items. When he was 12, his father had him work on the farm equipment. Sometime around 1887, his father bought a John Deere tractor.  Harry was intrigued, and soon built a tractor of his own, using random parts from around the farm.

Around 1911, Harry graduated from college with a degree in engineering.  Soon after, he started the Ideal Motor Car Company, which was based out of Indianapolis.  Eleven months later, he renamed it the Stutz  Motor Car Company.

It wasn’t until Harry had renamed the company that it became well known.  The Stutz Bearcat was the fastest car of it’s time, that was in production.  With a center of gravity that was low enough to prevent rocks and debris from flying off to the sides.  It had a 10.3 liter V8 that put out more than 240 horsepower!  Most V6’s make that, but they have direct injection, variable valve timing (VVT), and other goodies.  With it’s powerful V8, the Stutz Bearcat would often be seen flying down the road, at speeds in excess of 90 mph!  VROOM!

In 1920, Harry got the idea into his head to sell the Stutz Motor Car Company to Charles M. Schwab, and two other investors.  In 1919, Harry had created the Stutz Fire Engine Company, and the H.C.S Motor Car Company.

In 1929, he formed the Stutz-Bellanca Airplane Company.  During the Great Depression, the Stutz-Bellanca biplanes were used by the U.S. Army Air Corps, because of their sturdiness and cheapness to operate.  According to F.D.R, “12,000 Stutz biplanes cost the U.S. around $5,000 (now about $34,000).  It’s good to keep our boys flying.”

For a long time, the Stutz Motor Car Company was a parts supplier to the U.S. Army for the VIP’s.  In 1970, Stutz came out with their first new car in over 70 years.  It was called the Stutz Blackhawk came out.  Wanna see a picture of this beauty?  I thought so.  Stutz Blackhawk FVr   (1982)

The sleek, flowing lines of the Stutz Blackhawk show a hint of Jaguar’s, Lincoln’s, Caddy’s, and Ferrari’s!  In fact, the car was so luxurious that Elvis Presley was the first buyer.  The flowing Blackhawk remained in production until 1987.  It used a 400 horsepower, 5.9 liter V8 that borrowed many parts from Cummins Diesel.

Today, the building where the Stutz Bearcat was built is now called the Business Center.  It has offices and studios for over 100 Indianapolis designers, artists, and entrepreneurs.  There is a small area where there is a Bearcat being assembled.  There is a large plaque telling the world of Harry Stutz’s great invention.

In 1997, when the Automotive Hall of Fame was moved to Dearborn Michigan, Harry Stutz was the first Inductee to be inducted on the new site.  Harry is Inductee #14.

Ferdinand Karl Piech; one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the auto industry.

Ferdinand Karl Piech is one of a handful of accomplished businessmen/engineers in the auto industry.  He is on the board of Volkswagen, and one of the chief engineers for Porsche.  He was the CEO of Volkswagen, Chairman of the Board for VW, chief engineer at Audi, and Chief Racing Engineer for Porsche.  SLACKER!!!  He is a ruthless man, firing any “idiot that makes the same mistake twice.”  The big-eared, stick-skinny, balding 74-year-old may not look like he’s done a lot, but you will be pleasantly surprised when you see how much he HAS done.

Born in 1937 to fabulous wealth, to one of Ferdinand Porsche’s sons, Ferdinand Karl Piech knew that he liked cars from the moment his father bought a Volkswagen Beetle in 1941. He loved its cute lines, and small, but get-the-neighbors-mad, 1594 CC engine.  Piech graduated from the ETH Zürich, in Switzerland, with a degree in mechanical engineering.

In 1963, Piech was hired by Porsche to work on their racing program.  The brilliant, dyslexic engineer soon came up with a 3.0 liter naturally aspirated V8 that made close to 850 horsepower and 630 pound-foot of torque.  He made a fortune within one F1 season when his engine propelled the Porsche 906 to 37 out of 40 victories.  All of the victories were first-place finishes!  A couple of F1 seasons later, a Porsche executive came up to the 28-year-old Piech, and had him start working on the hugely successful Porsche 917.  A few months later, Piech was in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the world’s youngest millionaire.

Eight years later, “the wing-nut eared”*, slightly balding 36-year-old engineer moved to Audi.  He immediately started working on the Audi 80.  Not long after, he started work on the Audi 100.  He then helped with the concept and production cars.

For Piech’s 40th birthday, he had a gala event at the Porsche Hotel, with geniuses such as Giorgio Giarguetto (founder of Pininfarina).  When the birthday cake was brought out, Piech was crying:  The cake was an Audi 80, that was constructed out of marzipan, and 16 inches long!

Later that year, Piech started work on what would become the Audi Quattro.  He firmly believed in the five-cylinder engine.  When the Audi Quattro came into production, it was the fastest car that ever went into the World Rally Championships.  It had a turbocharged five-cylinder engine that made over 510 horsepower in some iterations.  As the British car magazine, Top Gear, put it, “It’s @*@%^!# fast, macho-cool, and epic…).

When Piech (through Volkswagen) bought Rolls-Royce and Bentley, he was denied the use of the name Rolls-Royce on any new luxury vehicles.  In a rage, Piech put Rolls-Royce back onto the stock market, where BMW bought an 96% share (Now they have 100%).

In the 1990’s, Piech was instrumental in keeping the remaining bits of Bugatti Automobiles SAS, around.  Thus, the Bugatti EB110 was born.  Faster than the Jaguar XK220, Lamborghini Countach, and the Ferrari 575 Maranello, the EB110 made anybody lucky enough to buy and drive one feel like a man again.

Two decades later, the Bugatti Veyron was introduced at the Geneva Auto Show.  With a 1,001 horsepower, 922 foot-pound of torque 8.0 liter W16 engine, it persuades pedestrians NOT to jaywalk, and wait until there’s a red light.  Just so they can stare those extra five seconds at those headlights coming closer at 253 mph.  I’m sorry, I REALLY don’t want to give you nightmares!

In 2002, the Automobile journalist, George Kacher made peace with Piech after years of bickering.  When a few journalists were invited to take a prelaunch drive of the VW Phaeton in Abu Dhabi, Piech told George “Keep your foot down.  It’s all paid for.”  When he said that, Kacher had his foot planted on the floor, with the Phaeton going an indicated 186 mph.  Piech’s fourth wife, Uschi Piech was giggling in the passenger seat as moped riders were giving them rude hand gestures!

Piech is the father of twelve children, from four different wives.  Three of his sons are into racing.  One is an instructor for the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, another is a mechanic for the Flying Lizard Porsche 911 racing team.  The other is a mechanic for VW’s rally teams.  The other four sons have various jobs.  This leaves Piech’s five daughters.  I think that the most notable job of one of his daughters is working as a paramedic for the Nurburgring Racetrack!

Some of the cars that Piech and Uschi own are: two 2009 Bugatti Veyrons, one Bentley Mulsanne, an Audi Quattro, an Audi TT RS, and a Rolls-Royce Corniche.  By the way, the Veyrons are used as daily drivers by Piech and Uschi!  Piech’s odometer on his Veyron just reached 70,000 miles!

*Thank You, Automobile Magazine!

John Deere, an Amazing Man in the tractor industry

Okay, we all know that John Deere Tractors, Ltd comes nowhere near the automotive industry.  But, John Deere was an amazing man who deserves more attention than he’s received.  So, I want to honor that, and the memory of John Deere.

John Deere was born into a family of deep poverty on February 7, 1804, in Rutland, Vermont.  John Deere was the third son of William Rinold Deere and Sarah Yates Deere.  In 1805, the Deere family moved to Middlebury, Vermont, where William Deere got a job as a merchant tailor.  Three years later, William boarded a boat heading to England, in hopes of finding a better life for his family.  William Deere was never heard from again, and after a lengthy search, presumed dead.

Raised by a mother on a barely existing income, one can only guess the John Deere’s education was probably rudimentary at best.  At age seventeen, John Deere was lucky enough to get random apprenticeships around Vermont.  By learning the trade of smithing, John Deere was able to find small jobs in Vermont.

In 1837, because of extremely depressing business conditions in Vermont, John Deere decided that it was time to move his small family to Grand Detour, Illinois.  His amazing blacksmithing skills immediately found him a job.  He found out that the plows manufactured (and used) in Vermont didn’t work in the heavy soils of the Midwest.  John Deere thought that a plow with a sharp, polished blade could turn the heavy, sticky Midwest soil.  Within two weeks, his plow was ready.  John Deere then decided to try it out.  It had a broken saw blade that had been polished to perfection.  He then took it through his backyard.  It worked so well that he was able to plant potatoes in the same day (normally a two-day job)!

Within four years, John Deere was making 100 plows a year.  Business was getting so out of hand that John Deere got a patent for the plow, and partnered with Leonard Andrus to keep up with demand.  Six years later, 1000 plows were being made annually.  But, Andrus kept bugging John Deere about the constant changes made to improve the plow.  Andrus told Deere that “the farmers will keep on buying the plow for a long time.”  In other words, farmers will keep on buying Deere’s plows because they dodn’t have a choice.  Deere didn’t feel this way.

Deere retorted with “They ( the farmers) haven’t got to take what we make and somebody else will beat us, and we will lose our trade.”  This was the foundation for the John Deere company philosophy.  It also is one of the company’s motto’s.

In the midst of the Civil War, in 1863, John Deere built a new invention.  It was called the Hawkeye, and was a riding cultivator/plow.  This meant that if a farmer was going to cultivate his field, he no longer had to push it; with a horse pulling.  Now he could sit on the Hawkeye and guide the horse.  Other inventions of John Deere before the Hawkeye were: other cultivators, a lot of steel plows, cotton and corn planters, wagons, buggies, and harrows.  He also considered making a hearse!

John Deere had a challenging life.  He had suffered food loss and destruction near Moline, during the Civil War, and was fatherless for most of his life.  He was actively into politics.  He served for about seven years as the president of the National Bank of Moline, served ten years as the president of the Moline Public Library, and served two terms as the Mayor of Moline.  Twenty-three years after making his first plow, on May 17, 1886, John Deere died at his home in Moline, Illinois.

John Deere started building tractors in 1903.  The first tractor off the production line was called the Model D.  It was so popular that it remained in production until 1935.

During WWII, all the automotive, aircraft and tractor industries were all asked (more like forced) to join the war effort.  The John Deere Company was no exception.  They made aircraft parts, tractors, and guns for the Allies.

In 1946, Caterpillar merged for a short time.  However, in the 1960’s, they went their separate ways.  Caterpillar wanted to build heavy machinery, and the John Deere Company wanted to build backhoes and tractors.started making lawn and garden tractors.  In the 1980’s they got interested in mowing golf courses.  After all, the golf courses were snapping up all the lawn tractors the minute the for sale sign was placed on their hoods.  Why not take a chance?  The result turned out to be so popular that John Deere had to open a new factory!  Now, there are many different lines of products for John Deere.  They include:  Backhoes, Skiploaders, Lawn and Garden tractors, pesticides, large tractors, just to name a few.  Oh, I forgot to mention that they make snowmobiles and snow-blowers!

One can always tell a John Deere tractor by it’s characteristic signature; a green tractor with yellow writing.  Their backhoes are a different story.  They are yellow, for better visibility.

For more information, you can visit the John Deere website at http://www.deere.com/wps/dcom/en_US/regional_home.page

Louis Chevrolet, possibly one of the greatest men in the car industry

Louis Joseph Chevrolet was born in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Canton of Neuchâtel, Switzerland on Christmas Day 1878.  In 1886, his family moved to Beaune, in the Cote-d’Or département (country subdivision) region of France.  It was there that young Louis became interested in autos, or anything that was motorized.  Soon after he moved to Beaune, he got a job in Paris, working for the Roblin Mechanics Shop; where he worked fixing bicycles.  In 1900, he emigrated to Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  In 1901, he moved from Montreal to New York City as a mechanic.  When he was in Montreal, he was working for the De Doin-Bouton “Mottorete” company (car biz).  In 1902, the company was bought by private shareholders, and Louis lost his job.  About a week after he lost his job, he got a telegram informing him that his father had just died.  He immediately sent back a telegram urging his mother Angelica, and family to come to the U.S.  On May 2, 1902, the Chevrolet family arrived in Brooklyn. 

Eventually, Louis got a job at Fiat in Manhattan, working for the racing team.  In 1903, he watched his first auto race. 

On a sunny and beautiful July 3rd, 1905, Louis Chevrolet married Suzanne Treyvoux.  His honeymoon was in Niagara Falls, in between races. 

Louis had two sons:  Charles Chevrolet, born in 1906; and Alfred Chevrolet, born in 1912. 

Not long before Charles was born, Louis got a job on the Fiat Racing Team.  Louis’ first documented race was on May 20, 1905.  He drove William Wallace’s 90 horsepower Fiat.  He performed considerable mechanical work on it.  Louis beat the previous one-lap mile record, which was 53 seconds.  Louis did it in 52.4.  He then went on to Chicago for an ACA race, where his Fiat developed radiator problems.  At his next race (with a repaired Fiat), he beat Barney Olfield.  Over the next 6 months, he would beat Olfield in 10 out of 11 races. During an early morning practice for the second Vanderbilt Cup, Louis went into a patch of fog and hit a telegraph pole!  Oh, and did I mention that he was driving a 110 horsepower Fiat? 

On March 5th, 1909, Louis and Arthur (his brother) Chevrolet were hired by the Buick Racing Team.  In one of the races that Louis was competing in, he was leading, and his front suspension failed, giving the lead to Harry Grant.  Louis was able to bring the broken Buick to a halt safely. 

In 1917, William C. Durant (founder of GM) thought that ‘Chevrolet’ had a pleasant sound to it.  He then pressured Louis to design a six-cylinder car.  Louis agreed and designed and built the first Chevrolet prototype.  Durant was wise in marketing the car as ” a fast, enjoyable family car designed by a race-car driver!” The car sold quickly.  Unfortunately, Louis’ relationship with Durant was loathing  at best. 

Durant started pressuring Louis to design a lower priced car.  Louis retorted by saying that he did not want his name to be associated with a lower-priced car.  Louis sold his stock in GM to Durant and left, thus leaving an opportunity to become extremely wealthy.  Oops!  Louis went back to racing. 

In 1928, Louis’s brother, Gaston was killed in a tragic racing accident on lap 146 in Beverly Hills, CA.  Louis, overcome by the loss of his youngest brother swore to never race again.  He sold all his race cars, and started to build race-car engines. 

In the stock-market crash of 1929, Louis lost all of his life savings.  He died penniless in 1941, working on a Chevrolet assembly line, making Army trucks. 

Thus ended the life of one of the greatest men in the auto and racing industry. 

Louis was inducted into the National Race Car hall of Fame in 1995.  He was also inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1989.  He is best remembered for so many victories in the early days of auto racing.

Carroll Shelby part 2

More Carroll Shelby!

When we left Carroll, he was roaring around every racetrack in the U.S., and in Europe!  He was the Dale Earnhardt Sr. of his day.  He was the girls’ cutie pie, and the boys’ hero (after Patton).  Here is the rest of his life. 

In 1959, he retired from roaring around Le Mans Raceway at 150 mph, to start his racing school:  ‘The Carroll Shelby School of High-Performance Driving.’  The reason that he chose to be stuck behind a desk all day was heart disease had become a large threat within his family.  And the track was (and still is) no place for a race car driver’s heart to blow. 

In 1962, Carroll decided that he’d better have a signature car.  So, he started thinking.  He bought an AC 260 roadster, and put a Ford 260 V8 that he had lying around in.  He still didn’t have a name.  One night, he had a dream where the car came to him and told him its name was Cobra.  He woke up and jotted the name down on a note pad on his nightstand.  In the morning, he told his friend that the car needed to be called Cobra.  And so it was.  That night, he went cruising around Dallas in the first Shelby Cobra prototype.  He was looking for Vettes (he didn’t find any).  But, the Cobra went into production two months later. 

By 1965, about 80 Cobra’s had been produced, with Ford V8’s ranging in size from 260 cu. inches to the mighty 427 V8.  To be homogolated (big word!  It means to register a specific automobile for international racing.  And it’s not even definition day yet!) for Le Mans, an automaker had to sell at least 100 vehicles.  What Carroll did was build about 80 cars, and skip about 20 Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN’s).  The Cobra won at Le Mans many times, leaving Corvettes and Ferraris in the dust (or biting the dust). 

By 1991, Carroll was on an urgent heart transplant list.  He realized that there were kids who had heart conditions as bad, or worse than his.  So, he started the Carroll Shelby Children’s Foundation.  It helps children who need a heart, to find a heart.  It has helped over 10,000 children, since it was started in 1991. 

When Lee Iacocca was at Ford, he called up Carroll, and asked him to make a higher-performance Mustang.  Carroll answered the phone and told Lee “Lee, I don’t think that anybody can make a racehorse out of a mule.”  But, Carroll decided to go with Lee’s idea, and tuned a Mustang.  Thus, the first Shelby GT350 was built. 

In the 25 years since the first Cobra, Carroll made a deal with Ford to have Mustangs shipped to his plant in Las Vegas.  He would then tweak them to make them into Shelby GT350’s and Shelby GT500’s.  In fact, he made over 50,000 GT350’s and GT500’s since 1965.  One cool fact!  After a 35-year hiatus, the Shelby GT350 is making a comeback (and a very strong one!) 

In addition to pumping out thousands of tuned cars (Ford Mustangs and other cars) from his Las Vegas factory, he came out with a chili kit.  He has been cooking chili since his racing days.  He also sponsors a chili cook-off in Texas.   

Once asked in an interview about his heart in early 2009, the 86 year old Texan replied “I’ve had this [heart] for almost 19 years now, and it’s been serving me better than the previous heart.  D’ya think that I’m about to die on you?  *#@%, no!”

Carroll Shelby: A Legendary Auto-Tuner

Since 1958, Carroll Hall Shelby has been one of the foremost race car drivers and auto-tuners in the U.S., or even the world!  He has raced all over the place, and tuned thousands (make that tens of thousands!) of cars.  Here is his life story.

In 1923, Carroll Hall Shelby was born to Warren Hall Shelby and Eloise Lawrence Shelby, in Leesburg, Texas.  His father was a rural-route mail carrier.  By the time Carroll was 7, he was suffering from heart valve leakage problems, and spent most of his childhood (up until 14) in bed.  When he turned 14, his heart problems “disappeared.”  When Carroll was 15, his family moved to the huge (to him) city of Dallas (Leesburg only had about 200 residents).  Young Carroll went to Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas, Texas.  According to an un-named Shelby biographer (not me!  I’ve got a name…), his passion (make that lust) for speed was shown when he got a speeding ticket for going 85 mph on an empty road. And, it was the first time he had ever driven the family car! 

As he graduated high school, WWII was already in its third year. America needed men to enlist, so Carroll joined the United States Army Air Corps.  He loved flight-school, but couldn’t go overseas, because of his history of heart problems.  So, he became a mechanic.  Not only did he repair engines, but he also would fly planes that had been ‘grounded’ (stuck on the ground because of various problems).  When flying the fixed grounded planes, he would drop love letters onto his fiancée’s front porch.  In turn, she would bring love letters to him, when she brought food to the base. 

After three years of serving his country, Carroll had a family to support (his wife, Jeanne Fields Shelby and his daughter, Sharon Anne Shelby).  He started a dump truck business in Dallas, but it didn’t work out.  So, he went into the oil business.  That didn’t work out either.  I guess that those things weren’t enough for a man who would make the Cobra an icon of speed and style.  So, he took an aptitude test.  Instead of indicating that his mechanical genius could take far beyond what he imagined, it said that maybe chicken farming was the right job.  So, he just went out and bought a flock of chickens…

After making a little bit of money in his first year of biz, the chickens started to drop dead left and right.  So, with the remaining chickens pumping out eggs and chicks, Carroll started buying old sports cars and tuning them.  An auto-tuner is a person who takes a car, an improves its performance.  He would then sell them in the local newspaper or Hemmings Motor News.  To test them out before selling them, he would often take them to races across the country.  Before he knew it, his garage was stuffed to the ceiling with trophies!  (He had to have an extension built onto the house!)  In 1952, he always won 1st or 2nd place.  So much for chicken farming. 

His racing fame spread, and soon he wasn’t driving his race car to the track, it was being shipped there!  He went to Europe for the first time in 1958, for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.  He won it, and the next year, won again!  So, he was now the cutie hanging in every girl’s room (not Justin Bieber, girls)! 

Some people happen to be so exciting, they need to be done in installments, so look on Friday for the remainder!

Lean back for the most luxurious post yet (or ever)

LATE POST (BUT WORTH THE WAIT!) 

It all began when William Lyons was born in Blackpool, England, on September 4th, 1901 to a music store shopkeeper.  So was born the founding father of Jaguar.  In his early days, he daydreamed of motorcycles, and when he turned 18, owned an “oil-bath” Sunbeam motorcycle.  (So-called because if you revved the engine, you would get an oil-bath!)  But, what he really wanted was a Harley-Davidson or a Brough Superior (the Rolls-Royce of motorcycles).  It was almost a coincidence that the future business partner of William Lyons lived across the street.  The name of this neighbor was William Walmsley.  Walmsley had a motorcycle and Swallow sidecar. Lyons bought a Swallow sidecar to match his own Norton motorcycle. Lyons became friends with Walmsley, who was 10 years Lyons’ senior.  With some financial help from their parents, they started the Swallow Sidecar Company.  The Swallow sidecars looked very good hooked up to a Brough Superior.

 In the mid-1920’s, their business flourished, and they started a small coach-building (car making) business.  Many cars only came in black, and it was appealing to see a two-tone Swallow going down the street.  The cars became so popular that they had to move to the Midlands area ofEnglandin 1928.  They found a large supply of workers that were unemployed, so they hired them.  During this time, production went up from 12 cars a week to 50.  The Swallow’s looked much better compared to theAustin100’s that they were using.  They also re-bodied whatever cars they could get their hands on.  Many of the design themes thatLyonsused for designing Jaguars are shown in those early cars. 

 Walmsley and Lyons became well-known when they started buying chassis’ from Rubery Owen (a chassis manufacturer), and engines from Standard 16.  Of course, they manufactured their own bodywork, which was designed byLyons. 

 One funny story is of Lyons designing the roofline of their car, the S.S.1, so low that a driver of average height wouldn’t be able to fit in!  But,Lyonswent to the hospital right before the car went into production.  When he came out, he saw that Walmsley had raised the roofline a few inches. 

 Lyons remarked that the passenger compartment looked “rather like a conning tower.” 

 The Motor magazine said of the S.S. 1 “…the S.S.1 is a new type of automobile in the sense that it is a car built for the connoisseur but is relatively low priced.  All the attributes of sport models are incorporated in a refined manner, and this, coupled with a striking appearance, is bound to attract motorists of modest means.”  There has been a lot of discussion over what the S.S. means. 

 William Lyons said “There was much speculation as to whether S.S. stood for Swallow Standard or Swallow Special.” – it was never resolved. 

 Walmsley and Lyons enjoyed immense success with the S.S. 1 and 2.  But, Lyons wasn’t happy with the handling of the Standard 16, which was the base for the cars.  So, Lyons wanted a new engine.  Walmsley left S.S. cars, leaving Lyons in charge. Lyons could design cars and be a good businessman, but he couldn’t be an engineer.  So, he did the next best thing, he hired engineers.  He only hired trained and self-motivated engineers and workers. Lyonswas very impressed by what Harry Weslake was saying about engine performance.  If you put the cylinder head on the top of the engine, instead of on the side, performance from the engine would rise.  So,Lyonstried it out with an engineer, and found that horsepower rose to 103.3 horsepower, from 70! 

Lyons, having achieved success, designed the S.S.100.  It was described by Phillip Porter as “The SS 100 was the company’s first genuine sports car and to many people it remains the epitome of the stylish pre-war sports car, Lyonswas at his flamboyant best. The beautiful, flowing feline shape suggested speed and when the new 3.5 liter engine was added to the range, a car of vivid performance was the result.”  Once again, the fiendish feline ruled the roads. 

Many automakers were killed by the Great Depression, and S.S. almost went under. Lyons needed steel for his saloons (sedans), and barely managed to get by on the little resources he had. 

 During WWII, Lyons and S.S. helped out with the war efforts.  They made key aircraft components for bombers and fighters.  All engineers were on “fire-watch” (the factory was a large German target), and they would work on cars and talk.  In addition, all the workers left to go serve in the Army, leaving the engineers and Lyons to build and design by themselves.

 The war meant change for S.S. and Lyons:  The name of the line was changed to Jaguar Cars, Ltd, because there was a very unpleasant connection to the German Secret Police, with the name SS. 

During the post-war years, all British manufacturers were encouraged to export products to North America.  Jaguar found a willing market there, and Lyons once said to his Export Manager, John Morgan “ I’m not going to accept crazy marketing plans forAmerica because I don’t believe in it.  It’s a volatile market.”

 Jaguar engineer Bill Heynes assembled a team of engineers to design a new engine.  Some of the engineers in the team included:  Claude Baily and Harry Weslake. 

The 1950’s were the golden years of Jaguar.  Jaguar enjoyed great sales and racing wins.  In 1951, William Lyons agreed to start racing Jaguars.  He did that,  because, if a Jaguar won, sales would increase.  That they did.  Jaguar wonLe Mans in 1951,1953,1955, and 1957.  The 1957 win was overshadowed by a tragedy.  The Jaguar stopped on the track, and a Mercedes-Benz 300SLR crashed into the back of the Jag.  The SLR went skidding into an Austin-Healy 100, and flew into a mound, where it blew up.  The axle and engine block flew into the crowd, killing 83, and injuring 120.  Unbelievably, sales stayed the same. 

 Lyons had Heynes design a racing suspension for the XK120.  Malcolm Sayer designed the body shell.  The car that came out was called the “C-Type.”  Sayer did such a good job that he was hired by Lyons.  He then went on to design the flowing D and E-Types. 

 1955 brought a period of sadness forLyons.  His son, John, died in a car accident on the way to Le Mans. Lyonswas devastated.  Shortly after, a fire swept through the factory.  Many photos show scrapped XK120s.  Jaguar simply cleaned up the factory and went back to work.  Shortly after the fire, Queen Elizabeth toured the factory and knighted William Lyons.  He was then Sir William Lyons.  Some people found him hard to be around after the knighting. 

 In 1960, Sir William Lyons bought Daimler because of their bigger factory inCoventry.  He tried to keep producing Daimlers for a while, but failed.  A funny story happened at the 1959 New York Auto Show;  Lyons is at the ’59 Motor Show inNew York. He was approached by a Jaguar XK140 owner who told him that the heater in his car didn’t work properly. At that point, Lyons, the customer and Tony Thompson, head of US Jaguar sales, marched downstairs to the garage to settle the matter. Thompson recalls the incident: “So we went down to his car and the man said, “look, the heater doesn’t work”.

Sir William replied, “the heater does work”.

The car was started up and the car had, if you remember, a Smiths heater with two little doors on it, and a control on the dash. I smoked soLyonsasked me to light a cigarette. He held the cigarette beside the heater and the smoke very gently wafted away.

“Look,” he said, “it works perfectly”.

“But, Sir Lyons,” the man replied, “temperatures get to 15 below zero.”

“Young man,” he said, “you just put on an overcoat”.

Each and every Jaguar has a personality.  The XK6’s design can be traced back to the Mark VII of the 1950’s.  The XK can be traced to the E-Type of the 1960’s.  By the end of the ‘50’s, Jaguar needed a replacement for the aging XK150.  So, Sayers designed the E-Type.  The flowing, curvy lines made instant Jaguar lovers out of ordinary people.  This was the car that put Jaguar ahead of the competition for many years. 

 The motoring world changed for good in 1968, when Jaguar introduced the XJ6.  The XJ6 was Sir William Lyons’ last creation, and possibly his best.  Over 200,000 were sold in the first two years!  As production of the E-Type would be coming to a halt soon, Sir William Lyons had a V12 developed.  The Series III E-Type was huge success.  When the E-Type ended production, the engine served service in the XJ.  There was an XJ6 or an XJ12.  The XJ12 was very fast and loved by many.  The press promptly named it Car of the Year. 

 In 1972, Sir William Lyons officially retired, and Jaguar had to continue without him.  His house, Wappenbury Hall was half an hour from the factory, and he would often go to watch Jaguars being built. 

 His dream coupe was to be a coupe version of the XJ.  Even though it was produced 2 years after he retired, he drove many test hours in it.  His dream coupe was the XJS, it had large styling influence by Sayer, but it lacked the true Jaguar look. 

 When interviewed in 1980 by Andrew Whyte, these were some ofLyons’ reflective thoughts: “I’ve been retired officially for over eight years now, of course, but I do like to take an interest,” Sir William admits.

“It’s been my whole life after all. Many of the people who worked for me are still there. They know the standards that must be set to remain successful in the motor industry. I think there are enough determined people there, still, to keep the essential Jaguar character in the cars, yet satisfy tomorrow’s legislation worldwide. Our aim from the very start was to give the motorist pleasure. Now, more than ever, I feel that motoring should be a joy and not a chore. I still enjoy it. . . .My favorite car? Well, that’s not too difficult to answer. I was determined that the XJ specification should be right. I believe it was. I don’t think I would have changed anything much if I’d been starting again, certainly not the overall appearance-a few details here and there, maybe-but I really do feel we established something universally pleasing. It does seem to be standing the test of time, doesn’t it?”

Five years after that interview, Sir William Lyons passed away at Wappenbury Hall.  Even though he has been dead for over 20 years, his legacy remains.  If somebody tells you that their XK120 is a “true Jaguar”, then you can retort “no, it’s aLyons AND Jaguar.  Beat that.” 

As Ian Callum (the Jaguar Design Director) said of his award-winning XK, XJ, and XF, “I know that Sir William Lyons would be proud of Jaguar right now.  From what I’ve learned from Heynes and Sayer, he’d probably choose the XJ…” 

TIMELINE FOR JAGUAR.  (Look for the funny story involving carpets at the bottom!) 

 1922:  Swallow Sidecar Company was created by William Lyons and William Walmsley.

1935:  The first Jaguars are made.  They are the SS90 and SS100 sport saloons.

1943:  The Jaguar XJ6 engine is made by engineers on fire-watch during WWII.
1949:  The Jaguar XK120 is created.  It then became the XK140 and XK150.

1951:  Sir William Lyons allows Bill Henyes and Wally Hassan to complete the I6 engine.  Also, a Jaguar XK120 wins the 24 Hours ofLe Mans.

1953:  Jaguar’s winning streak continues, with yet another win atLe Mans.

1955:  Yet another win atLe Mans!   William Lyons’ son, John Lyons died heading toLe Mans.  But, William Lyons became Sir William Lyons.  He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth for his services to the British industry. 

1956:  You guessed it!  Another win!

1957:  Jaguar wonLe Mans, but there was a major crash involving a Mercedes-Benz 300SLR and Austin-Healy 100.  The accident also killed 83 people and injured 120.

1958:  Jaguar comes out with the rare and beautiful Mark IX.

1961:  The Jaguar E-Type rumbles into production.

1966:  An E-Type wins the Rally Monte Carlo.  The Jaguar XK13 is made.  It is a one-off race car designed forLe Mans.  Unfortunately, race rules change; forcing Jaguar to store the XK13.

1968:  The Jaguar XJ is produced.  It is a large luxury car with an in-line-six cylinder.  It is also the last car designed by Sir William Lyons. 

1972:  The Jaguar XJ receives V12 power, and was the fastest sedan in the world, let alone a luxury one.  Given a long stretch of straight blacktop, one can reach 140 mph! 

1975:  Malcolm Sayer designed the replacement for the iconic E-Type.  The new car was called the Jaguar XJ-S.  It was built on the same platform as the XJ sedan, it was simply a coupe version with a V12 engine. 

1985:  Sir William Lyons passes away at Wappenbury Hall (LyonsMansion).  He is remembered by many for his thriftiness, attention to detail, and shrewd businessman. 

1988:  The Jaguar XJR-9 is unstoppable at the World Sports Car Championships:  It won six out of eleven possible wins.  It also took home the driver and team trophies.  It also got Jaguar to the winners circle atLe Mans, the first time since 1957. 

1990:  Ford Motor Company steps in and buys Jaguar for $2.56 billion!  That may seem unconceivable, but one can only expect that for a luxury car manufacturer. 

1992:  Ford brought the Jaguar XJ220 to market.  The prototypes had been seen with 6.2 liter V12s under the hood, but Ford had Jaguar use a 3.5 liter V6.  The XJ220 was driven by a 542 horsepower, 3.5 liter V6.  It could go up to 217 mph!  It wasn’t even legal to drive one in theU.S. 

1996:  Jaguar used a Ford V8 in its Jaguar XK8, making that Ford V8 the first V8 in Jaguar history.  The XK8 soon exceeded sales expectations, by being the fastest-selling Jaguar in history. 

2000:  Ian Callum achieved his lifetime ambition to become a Jaguar designer.  More than 30 years before, he had seen an XJ6 in a showroom, and been intrigued. 

2008:  Elegance is Redefined:  The XK is the first new Jaguar of the millennium, bringing with it a 4.2 liter V8 and six-speed automatic transmission.  The XKR version is supercharged, and brings 420 horsepower and more speed and macho with it.  Also, the XF is introduced.  The XF is designed to compete with the BMW 5-Series.  Even though the XF’s V8 is underpowered, it is a serious competitor.  The supercharged R version is as fast, as or faster than the XKR.  Also, Tata Motors of India bought Jaguar and Land Rover. 

2010:  The Jaguar XJ is redesigned, bringing stealthiness and power with it.  It has a 5.0 liter, 385 horsepower V8 and six-speed automatic.  The XJL Supersport has a supercharged 5.0 liter, 510 horsepower V8.  It also has a six-speed automatic.  All Jaguars are updated to a 5.0 liter V8 with 385 horsepower.  There are supercharged versions with 470 and 510 horsepower, respectively.  Also, the Jaguar XKR GT2 RSR is a one-off race car for ALMS GT2.  It has a 4.7 liter, 525 horsepower V8 with a six-speed automatic. 

2011 and beyond:  Jaguar unveiled the C-X75 concept car at the 2010 Paris Auto Show.  It shows a glimpse of what future Jaguar sports cars may look like.  It is powered by an electric motor and four small turbines. 

There are some funny stories involving Sir William Lyons and/or Jaguars.  Here is a funny story:

One time, Sir William Lyons was visiting the Piccadilly showroom, when the sales manager came up to him.  ‘Excuse me, Sir William.  The carpets in the showroom are becoming very worn, and threadbare in places.  May I order new carpets?’ 

 ‘Certainly not,’ repliedLyons, ‘there is plenty of wear left in those.’ 

 That was the end of the conversation.  On a subsequent visit a month or two later, however,Lyonshappened to look down and noticed – new carpet! The unfortunate fellow was summoned.

‘I thought I told you not to replace the carpet. I thought I told you that the existing ones were perfectly satisfactory. When I give an order, I expect it to be obeyed . . .’

Lyons carried on in this vein until the fellow managed to interrupt long enough to explain that they weren’t new carpets.

‘What I have done, Sir William is to turn them round. Half of each strip was under the show cabinets at the side of the room, and therefore not worn. So now that I have reversed them the worn area is under the cabinets.’

Lyonswas silent for a few moments, as he looked around him. The young man held his breath.

‘Remarkable,’ mutteredLyons. ‘Remarkable.’

There was another pause.

‘Right, my man. I want you at Wappenbury Hall (Lyonsmansion), nine o’clock on Monday morning. You can do the same thing for me at home.”

A Racer’s Life

Jerry in his Winklemann Formula Ford at Bridgehampton.

As John Lennon said, “You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one.”  I dream of racing cars.  Mom says “no”.  Today I am interviewing Jerry Gladstone (whose mom did not say “no”).  Among other careers, he is a retired race-car driver.

Interviews are a fun way to learn about lives that are different from one’s own.  They educate the reader and show an aspect of life that you might not have known.

Jerry, thank you for kindly agreeing to be interviewed.  I enjoyed hearing about your auto life. Your Winklemann Ford was very cool!

Jerry drove race-cars as a hobby in the amateur class in SCCA. http://www.scca.com/contentpage.aspx?hub=6

SCCA stands for Sports Car Club of America. Their goal is to bring car racing to all Americans.  Sounds fun!  Usually people collect cars as a hobby, they usually don’t race.  Jerry does both.  Jerry had fun racing in SCCA.  Today he is a physicist/electrical engineer with a Bachelor’s degree and two graduate degrees. He is married and the father of two adult children.

How did you get interested in racing and cars?

Jerry G:  When I was growing up boys and young men were very interested in cars — it was a car culture generation. (There were no computers or video games to distract us.) My first attendance at a race put the “bug” in my head that I would like to race too, as soon as I could figure out how to get into racing.

What did you compete in; NASCAR, Indy, SCCA, or NHRA?

Jerry G:  I competed in SCCA as an amateur racer. My racing was a “hobby”, I never intended to be a professional.

What car did you drive?

Jerry G: My first race car was a Winklemann Formula Ford. Later I drove a series of Formula B cars including a LeGrand, a Techno and a Brabham. I also had occasion to drive some sports cars including a Lotus, Alfa Romeo and Camaro.

What do you think was your most exciting moment in your racing career?

Jerry G: Believe it or not, my first day in driver’s school provided me with the most “shocking” moment. I could not believe how fast we were going on our slow orientation laps — it was so much faster than what I thought was fast in a street car.

Why did you stop racing and when?

Jerry G: I stopped racing when in 1971 as I could no longer afford to race and I was not good enough to be sponsored. It was also time for me to pursue a career.

How did you get into racing?

Jerry G: After I bought my MG I joined a sports car club. Many of the members were racers and as I made friends I was invited to come along for racing weekends. I was hooked. Joined the SCCA and went to driver’s school.

What tracks did you race at?

Jerry G: Bridgehampton, Lime Rock Park, Thompson, Bryar, Watkins Glen, Virginia International Raceway, Marlboro, Pocono and maybe a few others. If these names do not seem familiar to you it is because they are all on the east coast and many of them are no longer in existence.

What was your funniest experience when you were racing?

Jerry G: People used to laugh at me as I always took a nap between sessions. I took a lot of ribbing about being so relaxed.

Do you have any advice on how to become a race-car driver?

Jerry G: Go to one of the professional race driver’s schools. They were not in existence when I started; they are superior to SCCA schools and the best way to give it a try. Also, truly understand the commitment of time and money to even be an amateur.

What skills do you need to be a race-car driver?

Jerry G: Great eyesight and reflexes, competitiveness. An extraordinary “feel” for cars and machines. Some technical knowledge in either setting up a car or being able to communicate with your “mechanic/engineer”.

What did you do after racing?

Jerry G: Racing was only a hobby, I went on to pursue my career in technology — I am an applied physicist/electrical engineer with a Bachelors and two graduate degrees.  

What was your first street car?

Jerry G: My first street car was a black 1962 MGA Mark II.

You said that you  currently drive a Porsche 911.  What generation is it?

Jerry G: My Porsche — my fifth — is commonly referred to as a 911, also a Carrera. Technically it is a Type 993 — the last incarnation of the air-cooled cars.

Jerry is an officer in the local Porsche club.  Many of the tracks that he raced at are no longer in use or in existence.  Some of the tracks that Jerry raced at are the hardest and best-known in the country: Virginia International Raceway, Watkins Glen and Lime Rock Park.  I have plans to write a post on Virginia International Raceway and Richmond Speedway. 

Thanks again Jerry for being my first interviewee!!

Enzo Ferrari- a biography of a great man who invented the term fast

Enzo Anselmo Ferrari was born on February 18th, 1898 in Modena, Italy. At age 16 he joined the Italian Army and fought on the front lines of WWI. In 1916, his father and brother died as a result of the Italian Influenza. Two years later, he caught the flu pandemic (a disease throughout an entire country) and was very sick and discharged from the Italian Army. In 1918, as a result of being unemployed, he found a job at a company called CMN. CMN took old WWI trucks and converted them into small passenger cars. In 1920, he left CMN to work at Alfa Romeo in Turin, Italy. 

In 1923, he started racing for Alfa Romeo, where he won his first race and met Count and Countess Baracca, the parents of the Italian ace pilot Francesco Baracca.  Countess Baracca allowed Enzo to use the prancing horse logo.  Which, unless you have lived in a cave for the last 30 years, is known as the Ferrari logo.  It is also the coat of arms of Stuttgart, Germany.  He started racing as an official driver for Alfa Romeo.  His first major accident happened in 1921, when on the eve of the Brescia Grand Prix, he swerved to avoid a herd of cattle blocking the race route and went off the side of the road. 

In 1927 he started Scuderia, a racing company that tuned mostly Alfa Romeo’s and motorcycles and was very successful.   In 1928 he was made a Cavaliere, which is the Italian word for Knight.

In 1931, he finished his last race because of the impending birth of his son Alfredo.  He finished second place in his last race.  In 1933 he took the post of head of Alfa Corse (the racing division of Alfa Romeo) and held the post until 1939.  He moved to Maranello, Italy to have a new factory for Scuderia and to have a newer house. 

In 1941, he moved Scuderia to Milan, Italy as a result of the wartime fear of getting bombed.  In 1943, he started Auto Avio Costruzioni.  Later in the year, he moved Auto Avio Cotruzioni to Modena, Italy which was the old headquarters of Scuderia. 

In 1944, the factory in Milan was bombed, rebuilt and believe it or not, bombed two weeks later.  To most people that would be a serious bummer, but Enzo never really was sad about that.  He always helped out in rebuilding it, and always used his own money that he was saving for retirement to rebuild the factory. 

In September 1945, he started designing the first production Ferrari.  He had started a new company again so he could beat Alfa Romeo in everything.  He wanted the car built with a V12.  Why a V12?  Because it could be a good engine for winning races and be good for a supercar and for grand-touring.  In 1946, Enzo himself took the first road going Ferrari prototype out for a test drive on the roads of Italy, where it was a head turner for the peasants. 

In 1956, Enzo’s son, Alfredo died of muscular dystrophy.  Alfredo was involved in designing a new 1500 CC V6 until the very end of his life.  Alfredo was better known as Dino.  All Ferrari V6 engines have been named “Dino”.  It is not pronounced like Dinosaur, but Deeno. 

In 1962, he was awarded the Hammarsjkld Prize by the United Nations for his business and mechanics knowledge.  In 1965 he was awarded the Columbus Prize.

In 1971, he dedicated the Fiorano Test Track at the factory in Italy, to test new Ferrari’s. 

In 1979, he was awarded the title of Cavaliere di Gran Croce della Repubblica di Italiana (try saying that 3 times fast, if you do, then leave a post!) from President Percini.

In 1987, the last car to go out under Enzo’s leadership of Ferrari was the F40.  He had both design and mechanical influence over it. 

In 1988, Enzo Ferrari died at age 90.  He inspired a legacy of Supercars and Grand Touring cars that have set a standard for years, hopefully for years to come.  In 2003, Ferrari unveiled a car in memory of Enzo.  It was called the Enzo Ferrari.  Sound similar to anybody?

Enzo Ferrari was a man of great compassion for his race car drivers.  When his driver Nicki Lauda suffered nearly fatal burns at the 24 hours of Le Mans, he was in Lauda’s hospital room for days comforting him while he healed.  Enzo also cared about the quality of his cars.  He would be very upset if a Ferrari was not made right, and he would be in a rage for days until the car was fixed.  Enzo Ferrari was a man of great compassion for people he knew, and loved his cars.