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My first trip to Maranello

3 years ago

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Andrew Frankel | Ti co-founder


9 April 2021

It had taken five years, which I didn’t think was too bad. Five years of hard slog, nearly losing my job on countless occasions, schlepping around Autocar’s various departments and rising through the ranks before, finally, I was deemed qualified for the most coveted task in motoring journalism: I got to go to Maranello.

It’s not the same these days: Ferrari launches too many cars and invites too many journalists, not to mention influencers, to drive them for the mystique to remain. Do not mistake me, knowing you’re off to the factory still quickens the pulse but back in May 1993, I could scarcely sleep.

In my heart I’d not really believed the stories of those who’d made the journey before me: how whoever you had gone to meet would always be late, the car you’d gone to drive later still, and how they would always pretend they’d not known you were coming. It was part of Ferrari lore. But if I had to wait, wait I would. After all, the prize was a drive in the new 456, with its new 5.5-litre V12 engine, ahead of any other journalist in the world. And that seemed worth waiting for.

So I followed dutifully in their footsteps, flying to Linate, hiring a Fiat Uno and holding it flat to the floor past Piacenza, Parma and onto Modena before turning due south to Maranello. My photographer, Autocar’s Stan Papior, was already a veteran of such trips, so we soon found Via Abetone and that archway, the rather plain square hole in the even plainer façade of the original factory building, with the word ‘Ferrari’ spelled out above, the upper horizontal of the ‘F’ stretching extravagantly across the word until it met the tip of the ‘i’, just as the Old Man used to sign his name.

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