Galleria Ferrari. Click image to enlarge
Story and photos by Peter Bleakney
Maranello, Italy – With Ferrari recently celebrating its 60th anniversary, a visit to the Galleria Ferrari in Maranello carries special significance this year. If you’re one of the legions who worship at the altar of this most storied and mythical automaker, it is a worthy… nay, essential pilgrimage.
Or maybe you just like fast red cars and want to buy a T-shirt. That’s okay too.
Either way, Ferrari’s official museum, which sits just down the road from the Ferrari factory and is within earshot of the famed Fiorano test track, offers a fascinating overview into the six decades Ferrari has been building race cars, road cars and pressing the technological envelope. Even if you don’t know a camshaft from a carburetor, the sheer aesthetic beauty of these cars is worth the 12-euro admission price alone.
1955 Ferrari-Lancia D30. Click image to enlarge
Opened in 1990, Galleria Ferrari was expanded in 2004 with the addition of two galleries, and now boasts over 2500 square metres of floor space. It is divided into four main areas: the first floor is dedicated to F1 cars, the second floor gallery has rotating displays, the third floor features Granturismo road cars and technical exhibits, and another gallery on this floor exhibits automotive art.
There are about 50 cars on display, but the museum is far from static. Along with a core of permanent historical vehicles, many displays are dynamic, drawing on vehicles owned by Ferrari, private collectors and other museums. You can count on the whole experience being bookended by an exact reproduction of Ferrari’s first car – the 1947 1.5-litre12-cylinder 125 S – and the latest production model from the nearby factory.
Unlike most auto museums housing priceless treasures, the Galleria Ferrari has no ropes around the cars. This proves especially interesting in the F1 exhibit where one can peer into the sparse and beltless cockpits of the vintage racers and wonder just what sized cojones these road warriors must have been sporting under their non-fireproof driving suits.
The beautiful 1955 Ferrari-Lancia D30 racer with its big, riveted and oh-so-exposed external fuel tanks hanging off either side of the cockpit is enough to send chills down your spine.
Gilles Villeneuve’s 1979 Ferrari 312 T4. Click image to enlarge
Of particular interest to Canadians will be the 1979 and 1981 Grand Prix cars that were piloted by Gilles Villeneuve.
Bringing the visitor to present times is a mock-up of a modern F1 pit with the F2004 in which Michael Schumacher won the 2004 World Championship.
The second floor gallery is currently running an exhibit entitled Ferrari Sport and Sport Prototypes, featuring ten one-off cars that span the six decades of Ferrari.
Heading up to the third floor, visitors are first greeted by one of the 399 2003 Enzo supercars – a formidable presence if you’ve never seen one in the flesh… er, carbon fibre. A quick look around reveals some more treasures: a 1997 F50, a 1948 166 Inter Coup�, and a yellow 1968 Scaglietti-bodied 275 GTB/4 which, in my opinion, is perhaps the most gorgeous of Ferraris. With a 300-hp 3286cc V12 under its long hood, it was the last road car Ferrari built as an independent before Fiat took stake in the company.
1951 Ferrari 166 F2. Click image to enlarge
A big name in the Ferrari pantheon – the 1962-1964 250 GTO – is not to be found here. Considering Ferrari built only 39, and they’re worth insane money, it’s not surprising the Galleria couldn’t pry one away from a privileged owner.
There is more to this museum than just art of the rolling variety. A show entitled Ferrari’s 60 Years in Race Posters occupies the gallery on the third floor. It features a unique collection of 200 posters that illustrate Ferrari’s history on the world’s circuits.
Of course, Enzo Ferrari, the man behind the myth, is omni-present at Galleria Ferrari. The walls are adorned with historical photos of Il Commendatore, a small cinema shows videos and films spanning Ferrari’s history, and there is a reconstruction (with the original furniture) of Enzo’s office in Via Trieste, Modena.
A must-do while visiting Maranello is taking lunch at the famed Cavallino Ristorante that sits just across from the Ferrari factory gates. It’s dripping in Ferrari history, having hosted the Old Man himself on a daily basis, along with most of his drivers. Best pasta I’ve ever had.