Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Ferrari

I've written before that Italians do everything with passion. Whether it's driving, shopping, communicating or even eating; it's all done without sparing any energy. On the road, this passion tends to be seen as dangerous driving… it's not that bad though :-) They just don't know the meaning of words like patience, slow or careful and thus substitute it with wild, fast and wot. Wot? Yes wot. Wide Open Throttle! That is what the Italians consider driving. Things like low down torque and bottom power mean nothing here, Italians are never using the lower rev bands. The Americans look at bottom power, the Italians at high rpm.

All of the above means that fast cars are a passion too in Italy. It's no wonder that Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Lamborghini, Ferrari and Pagani for instance are all Italian companies. In the past designers like Pininfarina and Michelotti designed the most flamboyant cars right here too. Just look at the crowds at Formula One. Even though Ferrari isn't doing all that well in F1 at the moment, the fans still 'paint' the grandstand red. But when Ferrari does win, the party that follows is unbelievable. 
So, what were we to expect when we went to the Ferrari museum? A dusty collection of old cars? Row after row of mundane motoring history, housed in an old building? No. We expected, and found(!), chaos, madness, exuberance, excitement… and lots of it! It already started while riding towards Ferrari. The closer we got to Maranello, the more 'enthusiastic' the traffic became. Why move in an orderly fashion when you can do it with 10,000 rpm, release 500 horses and smoke some tyres? After all, there's nothing like a Ferrari V12 on full bore. The Police seems to agree, instead of handing out pesky tickets for hooning,they just smiled. Simply riding through Maranello on a Saturday is an event no to be missed. 


The museum can hardly be described as 'low key'. Bright red, chrome and a styling that's about as loud as can be. It's not just Ferrari who's loud and flamboyant, but virtually everyone that makes cars and motorbikes in this country. After all they don't call Lamborghini 'The Raging Bull' for nothing. These people are full of life and full of Go! Ferrari isn't any different. The museum is surrounded by a range of business that try their best to be even more inconspicuous than Ferrari themselves… bright red and bright yellow are the colours of choice everywhere. Yes it's chaos and yes you need eyes in the back of your head… but the energy on display is amazing, I love it!

Once inside the museum, things become very un-Italian however. No more chaos… everything is seemingly well under control…! There are lockers for motorcyclists to leave your helmet and jacket. Getting a ticket is an easy process and there seems to be a very well organised museum behind it too. Oh, bugger! I was so much hoping for an explosion of Italian madness… Once inside the museum though, things get very much Italian again… pfew. The sounds of screaming engines, incredibly red paintwork, engines that can only be described as a work of art and lots of it. Bring it on!

We weren't even inside for half an hour or I was in problems with one of the bright red clothed Ferrari security ladies already. It's forbidden to touch the cars… fair enough too. But when I found an open window and put my camera through it to photograph the dashboard… she went ape! With lots of noise she explained that I was not to touch the cars… I didn't move the camera and showed her I wasn't touching it… but of course once a pizza is hot, it's hot and she wasn't having any of it :-) I must have been black listed as for the rest of the visit there was always a security guard in the vicinity, I was pretty sure they followed me!

British tyres, no wonder Ferraris handle so well...!
The museum is great. Lots to see and clearly a lot of effort has been put into it. There is a large number of Ferraris on display, including plenty of racing cars. Of course it is completely over the top. Extravagant and a lot of it is fake too. It doesn't matter though. The Italians get away with it. Ferrari wouldn't be Ferrari without it. Quite to my surprise Ferrari used Avon tyres for a number of successful cars… now maybe if they start using Avon tyres again, they might have some success again too!

So why are most Ferrari's painted red? We have to go back in time a bit to answer that question. The colour is a national racing colour and dates back to the 1920s when it was customary in Europe to have national racing colours. Germany's national racing colour is white (later also silver), Britain's is green (aptly named British racing green) and Italy's racing colour is red. While most Ferrari's are painted red, Yellow is the dominant colour of the Ferrari emblem. The prancing horse of the Ferrari emblem dates back to 1923, when Countess Paolina, asked Enzo Ferrari to use the same horse on his cars as her son had on his WWI plane as it would bring him good luck.

The photo that got me in trouble
with the security guard...
Visiting the Ferrari museum should be high on everyone's list. It's an adrenaline rush, a day full of madness and the best time to visit is probably on a saturday like we did: the shear amount of people on the road in Maranello is not to be missed and the museum itself is, as you can see in the photos, spectacular to say the least. Mike couldn't make up his mind on which one to take home with him… :-)


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