Enzo Ferrari was a racing man ever since, at the age of 10, he watched a driver called Felice Nazarro win a Grand Prix race. His first job was as a test driver, then a racing driver, then by 1929 he had set up a team of top racing drivers called Scuderia Ferrari (which translates as the Ferrari Stable), which was the racing division of Alfa Romeo. Byy the time Ferrari himself retired from racing he had achieved a record 11 wins out of 41 Grand Prix that he raced in!
By 1939 however, after a few ups and downs with Alfa Romeo he started to race with his own team, even against Alfa Romeo, as well as building and selling a few racing cars to other drivers. In 1948 came the first major victory of Ferrari built cars; they took the victor's podium at the Mille Miglia, a 1000 mile race, with a 166 S, a race that Ferrari were to win a further seven times over the next nine years, before it was eventually banned because of a dreadful accident record.
Developing, building and racing cars was a very expensive business generated enormous good publicity for Ferrari and so the decision was made to sell road cars, in order to subsidise the racing. The first one to come on the market, in 1949, was essentially the 166 S which had been so successful in the Mille Miglia, which was adapted for road use. As a result of it's pedigree this car was fast and powerful, with excellent handling characteristics.
With a two litre V12 engine and a five-speed manual gearbox this car, called the 166 Inter, was capable of 111 mph with nought to 60 in 11 seconds; which was extremely fast in those days. In common with most other car manufacturers at the time Ferrari delivered only a ‘rolling chassis’ which was basically chassis plus engine, brakes, radiator et cetera. The buyer was then free to commission which ever coach builder was favoured to put a body on it, with the result that every single car was different. Most of them were coupes or ‘barchettas’; a barchetta was so named because it looked like a little boat. Production hardly broke records however, despite the wonderful publicity that Ferrari received from their racing; a total of just 38 were produced between 1948 and 1950 which is a good reason for these cars being so valuable now; one sold in 2008 for more than half a million pounds.
If Ferrari was going to be a major car manufacturer then extra finance would be necessary but it would be more than a decade before this became available.