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Porsche & Ferrari's Horse



There’s more than image commonality at play between Porsche and Ferrari's prancing horses. It's possible they both came from the same German heritage. 


1923 - Italy, at the Savio race track in Ravenna. Ferrari has just won the race. Among his admirers at the track is the Italian Countess Paolina Baracca, her husband Enrico in tow. By chance or by design, she and Ferrari meet. Looking at Ferrari, she sees in him the same intense competitive presence as was in her son. Emotionally moved, she offers Ferrari a necklace that holds a medallion with the image of a prancing horse on it. With this gift, she suggests to Ferrari that he paint the horse on his race car—”Per buona fortuna” she says---“For good luck.”

     The horse image, as a gift from the Countess, is more than a meer trinket. It represents the horse that was on her son’s WWI fighter plane. Italians, including Ferrari, knew who her son was—the top gun of Italian fighter pilots. Having died in combat, Countess Baracca’s son was immortalized as a national hero. The gift and suggestion received from the Countess was therefore of measured significance to herself, then too Ferrari.

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Why the horse exists on Count Baracca’s plane depends on who recounts history. Some say he just liked horses. Others thought the image related to the Piemonte Reale Cavalleria, an Italian army cavalry unit he had previously served with.

     The record that connects Porsche & Ferrari's horses has the Count having applied the horse to his plane to honor a highly admired enemy pilot he had shot down. That pilot was notably from Stuttgart, Germany---the prancing horse being the symbol of Stuttgart. Whatever the case, any German pilot seeing the horse-painted fighter knew exactly who was in it and were likely not too pleased seeing the Stuttgart motif on an enemy plane, particularly since it represented a fallen comrade. More detail on the topic of Stuttgart's horse can be found in "Crest Origins."  What is fact and what is fiction concerning the count's use of the horse remains speculative. Ferrari proceeds to use the prancing horse—albeit with significant delay—in honor of the Count and surely paying his respect to the Countess for her kind gift and thoughtful suggestion.

     Because many Italians knew the horse’s symbolism related to a national hero, it benefitted Ferrari’s image, by association, for him to present the horse as his own logo. Luck? This was most likely not on Ferrari’s radar. Simply put, he was an indomitable force of nature. His steely, affirmative character is said to have been forged in him by the fires of heartache he endured early in his life. Both his father and brother died in 1916 from the flu pandemic. Enzo barely survived a similar bout himself. His son from marriage, Alfredo, “Dino,” died at age 24 from muscular dystrophy. For Enzo, Dino’s death was a tragedy he’d never live down. Beyond being an adoring father living past his son’s life, Ferrari had also lost the heir to all that he had worked so hard to create. Always wearing dark glasses following Dino’s death is said to have had something to do with Dino’s absence in his life. Some speculate Enzo suffered over Dino to the extent that it made him "weak in the eyes."  The dark glasses were a guard of sorts.

     Ferrari was also a man torn between two lives. One life was with his wife, Laura. Known to have been a difficult, meddling individual, Ferrari employees quit due to her interference within his business. Ferrari’s other life was with his mistress, Lina. With her, Ferrari had a second son, Piero, born the 22nd of May, 1945. This dual life was not spoken of publicly until after Laura Ferrari’s death in 1978. Piero did not inherit the Ferrari business as Dino was intended to do. Instead, as of this writing, he owns 10.23% of Ferrari and is Vice Chairman of the company. He also owns 13.2% of Ferretti Group, an Italian multinational ship building company.


Count Baracca, WWI fighter pilot ace. Ferrari's horse originates from the image painted on his plane. Above his photo: His parents, Countess Paulina and her husband, Count Enrico Baracca.

Photo credits: Wikipedia

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Father and son "Dino"  August of 1947. Dino is 15 years old here. Following Dino's death in 1956, his father honored Dino's memory by naming a number of Ferrari racing and production cars after him.

Photo credits: Wikipedia

Enzo Ferrari's two worlds. His mistress Lina Lardi (left) and wife Laura Ferrari (right.)

Photo credits: Unknown

Piero Ferrari. Following in his father's racing and auto production footsteps, he has added luxury ship building to his portfolio. His net worth is estimated to be $4.6 billion. 

Photo credit: FanPage

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Laura and Enzo Ferrari  (date unknown.)

Photo credits: D. Hoty

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Yellow & blue flag of Ferrari's home town, Modena, Italy. The Scuderia Ferrari, "SF, "  logo inspired by Countess Baracca in memory of her son.

Scuderia Ferrari logo: Ferrari. Map credit: Google maps

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Enzo Ferrari in 1920. He signs with Alfa-Romeo as a mechanic & driver at this time. In 9 years, he will form Scuderia Ferrari and head Alfa's racing interests. Ferrari departs Alfa-Romeo in 1933 due to the company's financial constraints. He returns to Alfa-Romeo in '37, and departs once again in '39 due to a disagreement with the company's Managing Director. In 1947, Enzo begings his production car company, Ferrari S.p.A.

Photo credit: Unknown

For the Ferrari crest, Enzo chose black for the horse’s figure as “That was the color it had always been—and always would be." (When Ferrari made up his mind, that was the way it was.) The yellow field in the Scuderia Ferrari crest is Ferrari’s tribute to Modena, Italy, where he was born the 18th of February 1898. Officially, records say he was born on the 20th. This is because a snow storm delayed his father from getting to the register office until 2 days after his birth. (Enzo Ferrari died on the 14th of August in 1988 at 90 years of age. By his own request, and to honor his father, public notice of his death was postponed for 2 days.)

     First appearance of Ferrari’s prancing horse comes the 2nd of July, 1932. Interestingly, it's not on a Ferrari-made car at this point. Rather, it’s on an Alfa-Romeo 8C “Monza.” Ferrari is competing with this car in the 24 hour endurance race at Spa, Belgium. His team takes 1st and 2nd place in this race.

     Ferrari had joined Alfa-Romeo as a mechanic & driver in 1920. He rose through the Alfa-Romeo racing ranks to eventually form Scuderia Ferrari in 1929. This Ferrari-managed entity served as Alfa-Romeo’s unofficial racing division. When Enzo’s son Dino was born in 1932, Ferrari retired from driving to focus entirely on racing management, that focus being dedicated to his company, Scuderia Ferrari. ("Scuderia" in Italian means "stable". Or, "Team.")

     Departing from Alfa-Romeo, Ferrari needed capital to finance his insatiable racing passion. To generate the necessary capital, he started the production car company that bears his name. Ferrari’s measurable displeasure with production car making is the stuff of automotive lore. He only wanted to be involved with racing but put up with car making to fund what gratified him the most.

     First use of the prancing horse on a genuine Ferrari car appears in 1947, on the Ferrari 125 S. Exactly how Ferrari got away with taking the branding that first appeared on an Alfa-Romeo and moving it to his own product is a curiosity. Either he had an agreement with Alfa-Romeo in this regard, or, he just did it. If Alfa-Romeo did raise a concern, it’s possible Ferrari “suggested” they had more pressing matters to attend. Ferrari’s assertive charisma was such that he often got what he "asked"  for.

     Between Porsche & Ferrari, there was no conflict of note regarding their similar prancing horses. Bear in mind Porsche’s crest arrives 20 years after Ferrari’s. Ferry Porsche and Max Hoffman---the one who instigated Ferry to create a Porsche logo---both knew Ferrari well as they were all entwined by the competitive cord of racing. Given the sophistication of Ferry and Max as businessmen, they and whomever else was involved in the Porsche crest design, must have taken Ferrari’s existing logo into consideration when designing the Porsche crest. It is unknown whether they consciously decided to avoid being too close, visually speaking, to Ferrari’s horse design, or, Porsche’s much smaller horse + other elements were arrived at by design-default.

     Given Ferrari being a man of tremendous inner focus, his attention to what others were doing—racing aside—often seemed near non-existent. Keeping kings, princesses, dukes and others of supposed rank waiting until he decided it was time to meet them, that was Ferrari’s way, and people knew it. It’s no stretch of the imagination to conclude that after Porsche’s crest had become public, and when others drew Ferrari’s attention to it, Ferrari responded in his unabashed style…“E alora!” —"So what!”

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Enzo Ferrari at the Grand Prix of Italy, Monza, 4th of September 1966. He is 68 years of age at this moment in time. And, as passionate & aggressive as ever for "Vincendo questa corsa!"---"Winning this race!" 

Photo credit: Bernard Cahier / Getty Images

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