Maranello, Italy - On 12 March 1947 Enzo Ferrari started up the engine of the first car to bear his name and drove what was then just an unbodied steel chassis through the main gate and out onto the streets of Maranello.
On Sunday, 70 years to the day after that first test drive, Ferrari released a video featuring a re-enactment of the first car to carry the prancing horse emblem, the 125 S, driving through the gates on the Via Abetone Inferiore.
The 125 S was the very first Ferrari - and it set a very high standard, with a jewel-like 1.5-litre V12 engine designed by Gioacchino Colombo, delivering 87kW at 6800rpm. Two months later - now with a body of which the one you see here is a replica - its racing debut at the Piacenza circuit on 11 May turned out to be what Ferrari himself later described as “a promising failure” - Franco Cortese was leading when the fuel-pump failed.
Just nine days later, however, Cortese won the Rome Grand Prix, completing the 137km race at an average speed of 88.5km/h. The 125 S and its sister car (only two were built) went on to win six races from 20 starts during the 1947 season, including the Parma Grand Prix, with the legendary Tazio Nuvolari at the wheel.
Both cars were stripped and their parts used on later 159 and 166 models; it’s thought that the first 166 Spider, chassis number 0101, was in fact that first 152 S, cleaned up, rebodied, with the later 166 engine and a new chassis number on an aluminum plate riveted over the original chassis number, 01C.
The story goes that the customer, who’d ordered a new car, spotted that this was actually a well-used race chassis when he took delivery and when he made a fuss about it, Ferrari simply wrote out a new invoice for a much lower price!
Recently that car, which may or may not be built on the very first Ferrari chassis, was retrofitted with a 125 S body copied from the one made by Michelotto in 1987 for the factory’s own 125 S replica - so it is in effect a copy of a copy and the subject of much debate among enthusiasts wearing red anoraks.
Fast forward to 2017
In the spirit of the 125 S, which had no provision for a roof, Ferrari has chosen as the signature car for its 70th anniversary the LaFerrari Aperta, the limited-edition spider version of the LaFerrari hybrid supercar, with the same 588kW, 6262cc CV12 coupled to a 120kW electric motor for a total of 708kW.
The first example of the Aperta will be present at every anniversary event around the world, culminating in Maranello on the weekend of 9/10 September; you can follow the events on the special Ferrari70.com website.