Ferrari factory, museum and Fiorano test track - Maranello Italy
Tourist visit Italy. Racing enthusiast visit Maranello, the mecca of Ferrari.
Maranello is the place we have heard about since childhood. It's the birthplace of every
Ferrari road car, home of the Formula One team factory and the Fiorano test track. It is
where they build cars with the famous Cavallino [or "Prancing Horse"] badge.
This is Ferrari..... where Enzo Ferrari constructed wheeled machines, and lunched across
from the factory gates at il Ristorante. These same gates welcomed the first true Ferrari
driver Alberto Ascari. Ferrari trivia-ist know Enzo’s earlist cars were FIATs, not
Ferrari’s. Mike Hawthorn and Juan Manuel Fangio came through the gates in the 50's,
Richie Ginther, John Surtees, and Americans Phil Hill & Dan Gurney, in the 60’s, Jacky
Ickx, Niki Lauda, Gilles Villeneuve, Jody Scheckter, in the 70’s. Ferrari Formula One started the 1980’s with Gilles Villeneuve, Jody Scheckter, René
Arnoux and Patrick Tambay. Enzo Ferrari died at the age of 90, on August 14, 1988. The
next week, Gerhard Berger and Michele Alboreto completed a 1-2 finish at the Italian
Grand Prix, the only time in the 1988 season any team other than McLaren won a race. The
church bells rang in Maranello. The 1990’s saw the arrival of Alain Prost, Gerhard
Berger, Jean Alesi, and our good buddy, Nigel Mansell. Rubens Barrichello, always had a smile during
the Michael Schumaker era. The torch was passed to Felipe Massa and Kimi Räikkönen in 2007.
No trip to Maranello is complete without a visit to the Ferrari factory. You won’t miss it.
The famously photographed gate, is the center of attention in Maranello, on the main
road in town. The first surprise upon entering the factory is it's size. A map of the Ferrari
facility is in the welcome center. Every Ferrari is crafted within these walls, from
beginning to end. Ferrari automobiles are truly hand-built by experienced workers, no
robots or Henry Ford assembly line here. Less than 4 thousand cars were built in 2006,
every one of them anxiously awaited by an owner [and a dealer].
When you walk from the body shop to interior shop to engine room you can see the skill,
love and talent of each worker. My favorite spots are the interior shop [I imagine working
in a constant -new car smell-/leather environment] and the crankshaft manufacturing
section. Once a Ferrari is completed, it's road-tested to ensure perfect performance. At the
end of the tour, you'll see finished cars driven out of the compound. Do not leave town
without a trip to the winding local roads that run from Maranello into the surrounding
mountains. Drive yourself, or a local hire-car will oblige. These are the roads used by
test-drivers for the standard 93-mile road test, that finishes that assembly process for
every Ferrari. No other factory gives each car a public birthing.
These local roads are where the auto-paparazzi wait and wait... not so patiently waiting to see the
"new toys". We saw the red Ferrari 430 GT [below] running with few disguises, before
it's debut in Japan. The gray Ferrari 599 GTB [deep/below] was a customer car, just
Galleria Ferrari is the Ferrari museum, home to dozens of automobiles we know from the
past, today’s models and some future ideas. Many local shops sell must-have items.
The most famous is Hors Ligne, selling original, [read:expensive] Prancing Horse items
of all shapes and sizes. A Ferrari F1 team cap is much more valuable and special, when
purchased at Warm Up in Maranello, within sight of the factory. How many tourist
spend untold hours deciding on just the correct souvenir to take home?
Beautiful sounds erupt from the Fiorano test track at the Ferrari facilities. Since we can't
see inside, the imagination runs wild. Is Felipe Massa testing the newest Formula 1 car? We now
know the car we heard on one visit was the Ferrari F40 test-mule, that we first saw at the Frankfort Auto Show.
The il Ristorante wall sign [bottom image] is just as famous as McDonald's, or Quick or KFC.....
to those who "know" where to eat, when visiting Ferrari.
Maranello and Modena, near by, are still bustling, small historic towns with charm of the old days. The Ferrari factory, the museum and the
Fiorano test track are the highlights of what to see in Maranello, but don’t neglect
Modena [the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari] and other area points of interest for Ferrari enthusiasts.