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Ferrari and me

3 years ago

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Peter Robinson | Journalist


25 June 2021

When I first visited Ferrari in September 1982 on a private visit to Italy, Il Commendatore Enzo Ferrari was still very much the autocrat, at least of the racing department. Maranello’s disparate road car range included the V8 308 GTBi and GTSi, the bigger, 2+2 V8 Mondial and two unrelated 12-cylinder models: the flat-12 mid-engined BB512 and the front-engined V12 400i. Production of the largely Fiat-managed road car business totalled a mere 2209 cars.

My cheeky requests, as editor of Australia’s Wheels magazine, were various. The theory being that if I asked for much, Ferrari would grant at least a couple of my wishes. I wanted to go out with a test driver; try the recently revised 308 32-valve quattrovalvole; inspect the assembly plant; and, of course, meet the then 84-year old Enzo.

Factory tour out of the way, I sat down with Luca Matteoni, a marketing operative with responsibility for Australia and, I perceived, some public relations remit under the legendary Franco Gozzi, Enzo’s ‘assistant’ and close confidante. Feeling each other out, my Australian naivety no match for his Italian suavity, I slowly became aware of a building irritation on the other side of the desk.

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