Ferrari family: Getting to the core of the luxury sports car brand

As Casa Ferrari prepares to return to Abu Dhabi, director Giorgio Turri shares how the supercars remain a meeting point for life

The Ferrari SP-8, a one-off design inspired by the F8 Spider. Photo: Ferrari
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“When people buy a Ferrari, they don’t buy a car; they buy an emotion,” says Giorgio Turri, managing director of Ferrari Middle East.

“It can be the emotion of realising the dream of a lifetime; or: ‘I achieved something, and I want to reward myself’; or the pure emotion of driving something so special. This emotion is something they want to share, and Casa Ferrari is the meeting point of all of that.”

Casa Ferrari is the Italian car manufacturer’s glittering event for owners and enthusiasts, running parallel to the Formula One Grand Prix in various cities around the world, including Abu Dhabi this month. It brings together clients and cars to celebrate the brand’s rich heritage.

Strictly invite-only, the event unites the Ferrari community and underscores the brand’s unique connection to Formula One, as the only company to have participated in every championship since it began in 1950.

“We call them Ferraristi,” says Turri of the collectors. With only about 10,000 Ferraris made per year and each one still largely handmade at the headquarters in Maranello, Italy, this is a tight-knit and elite group.

“The idea behind Casa Ferrari is to bring the spirit and a taste of Maranello to the Middle East. We have our new cars on display, and the most beautiful cars of our heritage,” he adds.

The Abu Dhabi event started in 2019, to mark the quarter-century anniversary of Ferrari in the Middle East, and is expanding each year.

In 2021, the Cavallino Classic parade was launched, dedicated to cars more than 30 years old, with supercars such as the Ferrari 288 GTO, LaFerrari Aperta and Monza SP1 on display.

Last year, the brand marked its 75th birthday. To celebrate the first Ferrari made, the 125 S was shipped from the Ferrari Museum to Abu Dhabi. This year, the event is going to be even better, Turri says.

The soft-top Roma Spider will be on show, as will the Daytona SP3 – a first for the UAE. “And we are going to have the launch of the SF90 XX Stradale for the first time in the region,” he adds.

As part of the brand’s XX line of race cars built exclusively for Ferrari owners to drive on a closed track, the SF90 XX is the first road-legal version. Such power-focused, precision engineering is Ferrari’s DNA, Turri explains. “Ferrari started as a racing company, not as an automotive manufacturer. That came later.”

Having joined the company in 2012, Turri is well-versed in its history, and how it elicits a devotion that extends beyond the lure of the engine. Instead, he says, Ferrari is about dreams.

“Everything started with the dream of Enzo Ferrari to be a racing driver,” he says.

Aspiring driver Enzo started racing for Alfa Romeo in 1920 and founded Scuderia Ferrari in 1929, as a sort of gentlemen’s club where drivers would use their own cars to race under the Alfa Romeo flag. Enzo's flair for mechanics began to outstrip his driving skills, however, setting him on a new path.

“The moment he realised that driving was not his destiny, he decided to start preparing cars for racing,” Turri says.

Able to coax ever more out of a race car, Enzo set up his own workshop in 1943 in Maranello and in 1947 he produced the first car under his own name, the Ferrari 125 S. “It was an amazing racing car that started winning immediately.”

By the start of the 1950s, Ferrari was beginning to build individual cars, for a select few.

“He saw an opportunity to sell cars to finance the racing activities, because racing was expensive,” Turri says.

With these carefully hand-built creations, Ferrari’s reputation ensured demand outstripped supply, as the rich and fashionable clamoured to get their hands on one of his cars. Coupled with Ferrari’s success on the racetrack, it sparked a demand that has not yet abated more than eight decades later.

With codes now recognised the world over, each car carries the famous prancing horse logo, il Cavallino Rampante, which first appeared at Belgium’s Spa 24 Hours race in 1932. Ferrari’s distinctive red livery, meanwhile, dates from the earliest days under Alfa Romeo, when racing cars were painted according to nationality.

French cars, for example, had to be blue, German cars were silver-grey and British cars were green. Italy raced under red. Although this rule was scrapped in 1968, Ferrari kept the colour and named it “rosso corsa”, making it so intrinsic to the brand, that half of all owners continue to choose it for their paintwork.

Over the decades, it has maintained a reputation for technical innovation stemming from Formula One. Meanwhile, cars such as the F40, the 365 GTB / 4 Daytona, the Dino 246 GTS and the Testarossa are coveted by collectors, becoming “the poster cars of different generations of petrolheads”.

Feeding into this are levels of personalisation for owners.

“They want a Ferrari that reflects their personality, their taste, their expectations. They want something unique,” Turri says.

The Tailor Made programme, for example, will colour code the interior to a client’s preference – “something very dear to you, perhaps a bag, or pair of shoes, we can replicate that same colour”. Then, for a lucky few, there are the one-off projects where – for a price – they can create a unique car. Becoming a part of the design team from the beginning, the client takes part in automotive discussion, design and testing.

“You have to be a collector, you have to be very passionate,” Turri says of the programme. “We don’t present projects off the shelf. The client is part of the team, to share their preferences and inspiration. This is for a client who is a connoisseur of the brand.”

Considering the level of commitment on both sides, this is an invite-only programme.

“We have to build a relationship, we have to get to know each other, as the process can take up to five years” he says. “It’s building a car from scratch, for one client.”

Given the investment every owner makes to own a Ferrari – in the UAE, prices start at Dh1 million – you may expect them to sit shrouded in dust covers in underground garages, far from harm. Not so, says Turri.

“We have many collectors, but most of our cars are driven on the road,” he says. “These are no garage queens. These are cars that are meant to be driven, and clients like to drive them.”

To this end, Ferrari arranges driving events around the world, where owners come together to drive through beautiful landscapes. Until now, the Middle East has been left out of such events, but that is set to change early next year.

“We are going to start Ferrari tours in the UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia, open to the clients from the region,” he says.

“Our goal is simply to give clients the opportunity to be part of a community, and we try to find as many excuses as possible to have them experience the cars.”

Be it an invitation to join a classic-car-only drive, or to enjoy the Ferrari Ramadan Lounge, there is a focus on bringing owners together.

While the phrase “family” is often grossly overused in today’s retail landscape, at Ferrari, it seems to be more than just a platitude. Case in point, at the beginning of the pandemic, when Covid-19 shut down Italy overnight, Ferrari owners reached out to offer financial support for the families of Ferrari workers who were hardest hit.

“Our clients from all over the world connected with each other to make donations,” says Turri. “It was completely spontaneous. It was created by itself.”

Perhaps what is most telling about Ferrari, however, is that of the 200,000 or so cars it has made, many are still being driven.

“The vast majority of the cars built in the last 75 years are still on the road,” he says, citing the Ferrari Classic department, where cars can be “maintained and restored”.

Armed with an archive containing the technical specs of every Ferrari ever built, the team can undertake any project, Turri says.

“If you own a Ferrari that is 50 years old, and you would like to have it restored to its original condition, we can do that,” he says. “We can build it the way it was built 50 years ago.”

Updated: November 15, 2023, 5:40 AM