Travel: Ferrari’s First-ever Race Car Comes out to Play

Ferrari’s First-ever Race Car Comes out to Play

By Petrolicious Productions
May 23, 2015
8 comments

Story by Giovanni Ferrari

Say “Ferrari” to most people and their eyes will sparkle with an image of a red sports car roaring through the scenery.

Now, ask the same person where the first Ferrari debuted and the answer will likely be one of the big names—Monza, Spa-Francorchamps, the Nürburgring—and he’d be wrong.

More than 68 years ago, the small city of Piacenza hosted Ferrari’s first race car, the 1947 125 S. Piacenza is a small city in northern Italy—and the first with Ferrari-made skid marks on its streets!

Thanks to a club of enthusiasts, in May the city woke up to find an oval street circuit with straw barriers and the good old smell of vintage combustion in the air. A 40-strong platoon of racing cars from the pre- and immediate post-war years gathered in the main square, the Piazza dei Cavalli, and then motored slowly towards the start line on the Pubblico Passeggio—amid the waving arms of the crowd, naturally.

First off, about 20 sub-1100 cc machines, most of them handbuilt around a modified Fiat 750 or 1,100-cc engine, now owned and operated by amateurs who proudly drove them while dressed like racing drivers from that era. Six laps with a single rule: no racing. Just pure enjoyment—a parade—with the crowd given the pleasure of watching marvellous machines roar in the streets.

After the small racers, it was time for the big ones to step on the track, and the first of the big ones was quite a sight: Ferrari themselves had decided that their first-born should take a break from being a museum gem and go back to what it had been made to do, on the very track that legacy was born. The 125 S was back on the Pubblico Passeggio.

Driven by Franco Cortese back in those days, this 1.5-litre V12 barchetta impressed right from the start, racing for the lead before having to retire for a fuel pump problem. Had it worked for three more laps, Piacenza would most likely have been the site of Ferrari’s first victory, as well.

Fast forward to today, this factory-commissioned (and owned) recreation 125 S by Michelotto was leading a group of authentic racing pearls, including Ferraris, Maseratis, an Alfa Romeo 4C, and an immensely beautiful Alfa Romeo TZ3 Stradale by Zagato. Recreation? The original 125 S is gone.

Parade over. The six laps began and every single driver floored his throttle to the full, the cars shouting, barking, spitting flames, and exhaling arousing odours.

Back in the old days, drivers averaged speeds around 87 mph (140 km/h), which means that on the straights they did more than 125 mph (200 km/h)—in a town! This time, the attitude and the value of the cars promised a more reasonable pace.

It was an immensely rewarding day in this small town. It pulled memories out of those who were there that first time, and it created new memories for those who were not. As long as these events continue to happen, we can rest assured that racing memories will not fade.

You can follow Giovanni Ferrari on Instagram as well as the photographer, @corra_dk.

Image Sources: ferraridatabase.com, ilpiacenza.itpinterest.com

 

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Anders Holmberg
Anders Holmberg
7 years ago

It should be mentioned that this 125 S is a recreation made by Michelotto. There is no real 125 S in existence.

Regards,
Anders Holmberg

Michael Banovsky
Michael Banovsky
7 years ago

Updated, thank you.

Anders Holmberg
Anders Holmberg
7 years ago

No worries, a great article about a great event!

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
7 years ago

Sorry Mr Holmberg , but the truth is not that cut and dry . In fact , there’s a raft of controversy surrounding another car that’s been featured at Pebble Beach etc and been accepted by so called ‘ experts ‘ that may in fact be a very real 125S that was modified over the years and currently brought back to its original status , body and all . And for the record . There were two 125S’s . Not one

And therein lies the difficulty when it comes to sussing out any of Ferrari’s history . The records are , how shall we say this , weak to say the least . Enzo was anything but an upfront and by the book . Almost every early Ferrari received some sort of modifications . 90\% of them off record be it major or minor . Many cars were rebodied and rebuilt as something else by Ferrari with little or no documentation . So the simple fact is : Descrepancies abound when it comes to Ferraris from its inception right on to Enzo’s passing

And the only absolute when it comes to historic Ferrari’s is : There are no absolutes . Period !

Anders Holmberg
Anders Holmberg
7 years ago
Reply to  Guitar Slinger

Don’t be so sorry Mr Musician!
This car in the story is a replica since it was taken from the museum.
I’m fully aware about the two cars originally built.
About the car you are referring to, I’m not entirely sure that the history is proven so I won’t pass that one off as the “real deal” just yet. It wouldn’t be the first “duplicate” of a Ferrari.
So to me and most others the oldest Ferrari in existence is still 002C.

/Anders Holmberg

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
7 years ago

Mr Homlberg ; I was making no conclusions about the other car in my comment but several so called ‘ experts ‘as well as the judges etc at Pebble Beach have claimed the cars history as authentic . My point being no one can be completely sure about anything when it comes to classic Ferrari’s and especially pre 1969 Ferrari’s . The only thing less reliable than Ferrari’s records are the so called ‘ experts ‘ themselves in particular the so called ‘ experts ‘ at Ferrari’s official restoration department . Enzo was all to well known for his ‘ shell games ‘ when it came to his race and road cars . Taking from this to create that keeping no records in between , changing serial numbers on a whim etc . Customer cars being the worst . Especially celebrity customer cars . Many being built out of the wreckages and remains of race cars then rebuilt , rebodied , re named/numbered and then sold as new . Those realities being part of Ferrari’s many dirty little secrets that many today are trying desperately to ignore .

As to the ” most others ” comment ? I don’t know you , but all bets are you know me ( or at least of me ) And I’m telling you most in fact the majority do not agree with you . In my personal opinion ? Like I said : knowing the ‘ facts ‘ about Ferrari’s record keeping and history as I do from an inside view I have no opinion on the matter : seeing as how in reality with no accurate and reliable proof no conclusive case can be made for anything Ferrari , never mind pre 1969 Ferrari . But , the last thing I’ll say is that separating out the romantic myth from the reality and regardless of the power train as well as the name on the hood the 815 by all rights was , is and always will be the first Ferrari . With most ( including every major Ferrari historian of note ) being in agreement with that statement !

Ciao baby !

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange
7 years ago
Reply to  Guitar Slinger

002C is almost certainly the oldest surviving Ferrari badged car in it’s original form with the original engine and chassis. It seems there is evidence to support that later chassis 010I was built using some parts (chassis sections) from the scrapped 01C but IMHO that does not make it the oldest surviving Ferrari. I would also agree that the AAC 815 was the first Ferrari in all but name.
Guitar Slinger is also correct in that there are a number of 50s Ferraris that were restamped in period, certainly some of them with the full knowledge of customers who were looking to get round import taxes by having cars stamped with chassis numbers of existing cars to get round import duties. it would not surprise me if the rival manufacturers such as Maserati were doing the same thing at the time, as I’m sure funds were tight for these companies and bending the rules to bring in cash was necessary for survival.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
7 years ago
Reply to  Guitar Slinger

Mr Lange ; Molto grazie . But if I may . Many if not most of the owners that fell victim to the trend , and especially the celebrity owners had no clue their luxury Ferrari sports cars had in fact been built out of used and/or crashed race cars . A few after the fact coming back on Ferrari and a couple even receiving compensation from Enzo in order to maintain their silence . Someday when the topic is relevant I’ll fill you in on a couple of stories . In the mean time though suffice it to say Enzo was somewhat less than honorable when it came to the customer cars he sold : especially during the 50’s and early 60’s . The man was and is a Legend . But he’s a flawed legend at best .

As to the likes of Maserati doing the same ? Its possible but kind of doubtful . They neither had the cache or the despotic leadership -political/legal connections of Ferrari to get away with it the way Enzo did . But it was ( and is ) Italy . Therefore almost anything is possible