A couple of editions ago I told the awesome experience I lived during the 50th Ferrari anniversary. Well, 20 years on and just a few days ago I had the opportunity to experience, once again, something similar during the 70th anniversary.
It was all a little improvised as I had not planned to attend, but the experience was not less relevant.
From the start, the brand’s communication managers told us it would be a very restricted event and it would be almost impossible to accredit the media. In the end, only two journalists from the two largest newspapers in the country were invited; but finally, making possible the impossible, Gentlemen Drive was also present. A week before the event, when I had almost forgotten the matter, I received an invitation from the firm RM Sotheby’s, which had organised the official “Solo Ferrari” auction in cooperation with the factory. As a good Catalan, or at least one from olden times, I took the agenda and scheduled a work meeting in Milan on the following Monday after the Maranello event in order to maximise the fact it was a public holiday in Barcelona due to the “Diada” (the Catalan National Day). I even took work with me as I had been loaned a test BMW X4 for the same days. We decided to leave on Thursday evening after a light dinner, stopping in Arles, making the voyage less boring by splitting it into two stages. We arrived in Maranello the next day shortly after lunch. We got our accreditations at the Ferrari Museum and when straight to Fiorano to begin soaking up the red. On Friday, we were able to see all items being auctioned including the already famous aluminium Daytona found abandoned in Japan, the Spanish 348 that raced in Le Mans in 1994 or Keith Richards’ Ferrari 400i among many other pieces of great value that made us dream and repeat the famous phrase “if I had money”... or “if I win the lottery”...
We returned to reality, having dinner in Modena and visiting, even if by night, its beautiful historical centre. We ended drinking a Gin Tonic and talking cars with the head of interior design at Ferrari.
We obviously got up a little late on Saturday, and almost blended breakfast and the lunch with the head of exterior design at Ferrari and another Spanish compatriot that also works in his team. In the afternoon, we returned to the Fiorano circuit to see the auction but unaware of the event’s program that we had barely glanced over. As was to be expected, the prices shot up irrationally, especially in some vehicles such as the 488 Spider “Green Jewel”; an edition that was produced as part of a program of 70 customisations to celebrate the anniversary. It, which you have probably seen, was inspired on David Piper’s green 365P2. A car, Piper’s, that I am emotionally attached to as I was able to see it racing live and even get in during the Spirit of Montjuic this year. Mr Piper told us some amazing tales!! Well, it was sold for the trifle sum of one million Euros! The price paid for Rolling Stones Keith Richards’ Ferrari 400i was also unbelievable. A fact that evidenced the importance of “provenance” of any car. But the icing on the cake was the LaFerrari Aperta with the returns going to “Save the Children”. An automobile not yet manufactured but will have the last chassis number of this prestigious model reaching 8.3 Million Euros. During the auction, we sat next to the Ferrari design director, Flavio Manzoni, and could not believe what we saw. Madness, but when so much passion combines with so much money, the results are unforeseeable. Even the Ferrari Chairman, Sergio Marcchione, took the floor where telephone bids were being received to convince interested buyers to be more generous. Incredible!
But the show had only just started and after a wonderful open buffet to feed the almost four thousand guests, an audio-visual show started with acrobats and projections reviewing the history of Ferrari in an enjoyable and colourful manner, while seeing in action some of the most iconic and representative cars of the Italian brand. And although rain made an appearance, it was unable to spoil the party. Even Marc Gené could be seen with a Formula 1 car from the Scuderia during one of the moments, perhaps the loudest of the night. The chairman presented the evening, but the magnetism and ovation was for the two drivers of the Scuderia that came on stage to wave under an insistent rain they stoically endured. Michael Schumacher monopolised the most emotional moment projecting a video on the driver that has won most titles for Ferrari and ended with the hashtag #keepfightingmichael being unanimously acclaimed.
At the end of the show, Ferrari kept a surprise for all its guests and offered an exclusive Jamiroquai concert; major classic car enthusiast and customer of the Maranello firm.
The rain wanted to be present also during the performance of the king of funk and acid jazz but had the courtesy of going at the end of the concert, so we crossed the Fiorano race track and left the circuit to get our car and return to the hotel. We knew we had lived an epic moment and slept with a smile even though our brain continued to process and review what we had lived.
But the Saturday night show was not all. We still had the Sunday Ferrari dose and returned to Fiorano to watch the Elegance Competition organised with some of the best models of the “cavallino rampante”. The circuit had been converted in a track flanked by all successes of the brand, allowing me to give free reign of my sympathy for photography. I hope you like them; otherwise we will return on the 80th anniversary to improve.