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Book Review: 'Ferrari by Mailander'

Being a photo-journalist for Europe’s most famous magazine in the ‘50s, Automobil Revue, led Rodolfo Mailander to have unprecedented access to Enzo Ferrari and his cars. A new book has been published that chronicles the activities of the famous factory when annual production amounted to just a handful of cars.

Total Ferrari production in 1950 had increased from the 21 units of 1949 (3 in 1947 and 5 in 1948) to a record 26. That figure was to inch ever-upwards over the next five years covered in this large-format book, but during this period virtually every car produced by Ferrari was unique and nearly all of them were raced, or were certainly capable of being raced, by the international elite of the time.

The book is a collaboration between Mailander and well-known author, publisher and motor industry man Karl Ludvigsen. The pair have known each other for over 50 years and the book takes Mailander’s evocative black and white photographs of the period and couples them with commentary by both men on the scenes of racing action, drivers at rest, Ferrari himself, the Grand Salons such as Geneva or Paris, and mechanics preparing cars for the Targa Florio, Mille Miglia or Le Mans.

These were the days when every single car sold mattered to Enzo Ferrari; racing not only promoted his road car business but it was a profit centre by itself. A significant part of the company’s annual production could very well be taking part in the Mille Miglia (16 cars in 1950), and it was often the privateers - like the fabulously wealthy Marzotto brothers - who took the chequered flag for the marque. This early post-war period is full of similar characters, or drivers of an older era like Piero Taruffi, Gigi Villoresi or Ascari. The photographs have a dreamy atmospheric quality to them and show Ferrari’s bewildering number of chassis/engine/body configurations to the full. And it’s not all sports cars, single-seaters are also to the fore, either driven as part of the Scuderia or by wealthy customers.

The book finishes in 1955, the year of the catastrophic disaster at Le Mans and only a year or so away from the British-led rear-engine revolution that was to sweep across Europe. Mailander had been offered a job in the Daimler Benz Press Office and his days of following motor racing over Europe were over.

For all Ferrari fans this book is a ‘must’, and for nostalgia buffs everywhere who can visualise themselves driving the Mille Miglia in jacket and tie, kept awake solely on adrenaline (mixed with cognac, and a healthy number of cigarettes) you will not be disappointed. The dedicated Ferrari-phile can also spend many an hour poring over the serial numbers of all cars photographed, tabulated by marque expert Marcel Massini in an appendix to the book.

The 386 page book, priced at $US125.00/£Stg65.00, is produced in large-format (330mm x 240mm) and featured 500 black and white photographs plus detailed captions and an annual summary. For further details visit

Text; Steve Wakefield/Photos; Dalton Watson

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