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Founded by Enzo Ferrari in 1929 as Scuderia Ferrari, the company sponsored drivers and manufactured race cars before moving into production of street legal vehicles in 1946 as Ferrari S.p.A.

Enzo Ferrari never intended to produce road cars when he formed Scuderia Ferrari in 1929 as a sponsor for amateur drivers headquartered in Modena. Ferrari prepared and successfully raced various drivers in Alfa Romeo cars until 1938, when he was officially hired by Alfa as head of their racing department.

In 1940, Alfa Romeo was absorbed by the government as part of the war effort. Enzo Ferrari's division was small enough to be unaffected by this. Because he was prohibited by contract from racing for several years, the Scuderia briefly became Auto Avio Costruzioni Ferrari, which ostensibly produced machine tools and aircraft accessories. Also known as SEFAC (Scuderia Enzo Ferrari Auto Corse) Ferrari did in fact produce one racecar, the Tipo 815, in the non-competition period; it was thus the first actual Ferrari car (it debuted at the 1940 Mille Miglia), but due to World War II it saw little competition. In 1943 the Ferrari factory moved to Maranello, where it has remained ever since. The factory was bombed in 1944 and rebuilt in 1946 to include a works for road car production. Right up to Il Commendatore's death, this would remain little more than a source of funding for his first love, racing.

The first Ferrari road car was the 1947 125 S, powered by a 1.5 L V12 engine; Enzo reluctantly built and sold his automobiles to fund the Scuderia. While his beautiful and blazingly fast cars quickly gained a reputation for excellence, Enzo maintained a famous distaste for his customers, most of whom he felt were buying his cars for the prestige and not the performance.

Enzo Ferrari's true passion, despite his extensive road car business, was always auto racing. His Scuderia started as an independent sponsor for drivers in various cars, but soon became the Alfa Romeo in-house racing team. After Ferrari's departure from Alfa, he began to design and produce cars of his own; the Ferrari team first appeared on the European Grand Prix scene after the end of World War II.

After years of financial struggles, Enzo Ferrari sold the company's sports car division to the Fiat group in 1969 in order to help ensure continued financial backing for the foreseeable future. Ferrari himself retained control of the racing division until his death in 1988 at the age of 90.
 

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