The Spanish driver visits the Officina Classiche in Maranello and drives the sports car produced in the 1950s
The 166 Inter, becoming the 195 S, crosses the courtyard of the Ferrari Workshop in Maranello for a final test before being returned to its owner, with Enzo Ferrari on board. Seventy-one years later, Marc Gené, a friend of Maranello and ambassador for the Scuderia but also a tutor for drivers on the XX and F1 Clienti Programmes, flies along the road that bears the name of the founder in the same car. Time has passed at the sides of the road, and many things have changed. Technology has expanded, state-of-the-art systems have taken the place of the old workshops and the curved forms of the fifties and sixties have given way to the essential, pointed shapes of the cars of subsequent decades and tapered shapes of today. One thing has never changed, however. Now, as then, the sound of the V12 is unmistakable.
There’s also a corner of the company where time seems to stand still: the Officina Classiche, a place with an atmosphere encapsulating the history, passion and research that have always characterised Ferraris. “This place is magical,” says Marc. “Dreams are restored here.” And this is made possible through the invaluable, meticulous work of the people in this special division of the company, who dedicate months to restoring vintage Ferraris. Beside the Officina is the archive, which preserves all the original technical drawings and designs, from the very first 125 S to emerge from the gate in Via Abetone Inferiore. These notebooks and manuals constitute a map for performing perfect restorations, ones deeply attuned to Ferrari’s DNA. “It was all done by hand once, of course,” explains Marc. “The paper tended to perish and risked being lost, but here, with respect for the tradition that has now been passed on for nearly 75 years, it was possible to preserve these essential designs. Even now, though everything has been digitised, it’s still the practice of the people who work in this department to consult the original drawings, with the larger sheets, which are opened on the big table next to the shelves and consulted with the aid of a magnifying glass.”
When Marc enters the Officina Classiche to drive the 166/195 S Inter, it’s as if he had entered a theatre. In front of him are the stars about to take to the stage, cars that will feature in a concours d’elegance or historic re-enactment after their stop at Maranello. They are beautiful. There’s a Dino 246 from 1970, a 250 GT California from 1957, a 250 GT Spyder “Pininfarina” from 1959, a 340 Messico from 1952, a 275 P from 1964, a 500 TRC from 1957 and a 166 MM Touring from 1948. At the centre is the Ferrari 166 Inter Sport, an icon and undisputed star of the fifties. It’s a versatile car which has an elegant line, but a strong personality at the same time. Indeed, its name – ‘Inter’ plus ‘S’ for sport – refers to its appearance in international competitions. It had a particular feature which made it possible to fit and remove lights and mudguards according to the requirements of the various regulations.
The car was also available in both single-seater and two-seater configurations. This example, configured in this way, competed in the 1950 Mille Miglia. “I’m a lucky driver,” says Marc, “because it’s not every day that you can get behind the wheel of a car like this.” Gené turns on the engine; the sound is unmistakable. The Spanish driver follows in the footsteps of Vittorio Marzotto and Paolo Fontana, who came ninth overall and sixth in class in that race. He passes in front of the company restaurant, to the new style centre, and comes right to the other side of the company. It’s a return full of emotion, gladdened by the song of the engine. “Gripping this wheel is like turning on a time machine, an emotion machine. It’s hard to explain, but I can assure you that it’s a fantastic feeling. And then going through the company was a really special extra.”