Ferrari Classiche Department Restores Rarities In The Storied Town Of Maranello
Photography by Tania Feghali
For someone afflicted with car fever, a trip to Maranello becomes a pilgrimage. It’s like visiting a fantasyland that only exists in your head, but in this dream-like instance you’ll find no chocolate rivers running alongside you nor sci-fi technomobiles whizzing overhead, just the beautiful works of art created under the visionary directing of Enzo Ferrari.
It’s a foggy wintry morning in the Po Valley as I make my way toward the famous Ferrari gates, and the plains near Maranello slowly resolve into a landscape dotted with a succession of factories and plantations. Everything around me is shrouded in a thick mist that only elevates my perception of dreaming all of this up in my head instead of actually doing it. Considering where I am, the mist here reminds me of a scene from the great Italian director Fellini.
It’s still very early when I arrive at the factory gates, but my nerves and excitement supersede any physical exhaustion; it’s an honor to have this kind of access to a place with such mythological history. As I cross the hallowed entrance to collect my pass, waves of happiness and unadulterated giddiness overtake me.
I immediately head for the Ferrari Classiche Department at the entrance of the factory, where some of the most incredible machines from the marque’s past are displayed in various stages of restoration and completion.
The department is in the former foundry, and occupies 1,000 square meters of space packed with Italian automotive pedigree. Since its inception in 2006, the crew at the Classiche Department has completed over 100 full restorations, and so deserves some recognition for the work done in pursuit of preserving Ferrari’s history.
Upon entering the workshop, the devotion with which the twenty people working here are religiously focused on their task is immediately apparent. The crew is composed of these twenty people split in different divisions: mechanical, electrical systems, body, frame, external suppliers, and everything else involved in bringing these cars back to concours quality. Six more employees work in an management capacity, and are tasked with deciding the conformity of the cars, performing thorough inspections before the certifications are given and the cars are released back into the world. International teams exist too, but for Ferrari, the exceptionally special cars around the world that have a real historic and economic value are inspected solely by the Ferrari Classiche team.
Everything is well lit and the small groups working on the various projects seem akin to laboratory scientists. Around 50 cars enter this facility yearly, and usually less than 10 will be completed in that same timeframe, illustrating the demand for the service and the intimate care given to the cars.
My love-at-first-sight /near heart attack occurs suddenly as I find myself staring down the 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 by Scaglietti, which was built in Maranello before being delivered to Steve McQueen on the set of Bullitt. But my knees went weak at many of the other machines in residence too: from the nearly priceless 250 GTO to the 250 Testarossa, the 365 P or the 330 P, these are the kinds of cars you can bump into walking around in here.
So, back to my love at first sight, the legendary Steve McQueen’s 275. She was cut up at one point to be transformed into a replica Nart Spider, and the actual collector asked to the department to restaure it to the original.
In the workshop I also had the occasion to admire a 275 GTB; a 250 LM, which placed 2nd at LeMans in 1960 with drivers Olivier Gendebien and Paul Frère sharing the seat; a stunning 250 TR fully restored to its original condition when delivered to Askolin in 1952; a 1953 Monoposto Corsa Indianapolis that just took my breath away; a 1952 212 Inter with lines of pure poetry; a 250 GT Passocorto Le Mans; a 275 GTB from Japan, the list goes on.
As the time for lunch approached, I was dismayed to learn that the famous Ristorante Cavallino was closed for renovation (how fitting). However, we headed to Ristorante Montana, the very famous family restaurant close to the Fiorano test track where Schumacher used to come everyday to visit “Mamma Rosella,” Montana’s owner, who’s fed some of the most world’s best known drivers, from Villenuve to Lauda. Helmets, race suits, and other incredible F1 relics are hanging all around on the walls inside.
The legend says that Schumacher came to Montana on a Christmas day and as it was fully booked, so he headed upstairs and had dinner with Rosella’s family instead. Clearly, from the cars to the drivers to the stories of both, Maranello is a home for some of the best automotive history in the world.