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See 70 Years of the Greatest Ferraris Ever Built

Seven decades of seeing red.

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In 2017, Ferrari celebrates its 70th anniversary. What is there to say about Ferrari that hasn’t been said? It is the world’s most famous car company, the proverbial bedroom-poster car of our childhoods; it is one of the most successful racing teams to ever turn a wheel, deigning to build cars for the figurative hoi polloi—just so it can keep racing.

This year, Ferrari threw a grand fête through the center of Modena where many of its greatest cars assembled. Here are but just a few humble examples, offered for fervent debate; a full list the finest cars to ever leave the Maranello gates may very well include all of them. Even that one you don’t like as much has now tripled in value.

1940 Auto Avio Costruzioni 815
Classic Driver
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1940 Auto Avio Costruzioni 815

This is where it all started: the very first car entirely designed and built by Enzo Ferrari. Except...he couldn’t call it a Ferrari. Why? After ten years of leading Alfa Romeo’s race team, Enzo and newly-minted managing director Ugo Gobbato clashed ferociously, and Enzo split. But a contract stipulation meant he couldn’t put his own name on cars for four years. The result was Auto Avio Costruzioni, a car that brought together Ferrari’s Avengers team: Gioacchino Colombo built the engine, Carrozzeria Touring did the bodywork, Fiat supplied the chassis, and Alberto Ascari drove it. So what if it didn't finish the 1940 Mille Miglia? It was Genesis.

More: Pictures of the 2018 Ferrari Portofino

1950 Ferrari 166MM Barchetta
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1950 Ferrari 166MM Barchetta

Ferrari didn’t win the Mille Miglia until eight years later. And to celebrate, Enzo took the company's first roadgoing sports car and directed Touring to build 25 stripped-down, ultra-lightweight, ultra-potent examples. The company had only been a carmaking concern for three years, yet the 166MM put forth its name on the automotive stage: the first superleggera special, a car that would influence everything from the AC Ace (and Cobra) to Alfa Romeo’s Disco Volantes to modern-day Ferraris, which still live in its shadow. When journalist Giovanni Canestrini saw it at the Turin Auto Show in 1948, he uttered, “That is not a car; it is absolutely new! That is a little boat—a barchetta!”

1962 Ferrari 250 GTO
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1962 Ferrari 250 GTO

The incredible Ferrari 250 GTO is the superleggera taken to its logical extreme, and a distillation of everything there is to know about Ferrari: beauty, victory, rough-hewn focus, stubbornness (it's one of the last front-engined race cars before Enzo gave in to mid-engined superiority), and, of course, breathtaking expense. In 2014, one of the 39 250 GTOs sold at auction for $38.1 million. A year earlier, one was rumored to have sold privately for $52 million. At that level, what are numbers anymore?

RM Sotheby's
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1966 Ferrari 275 GT/B NART Spyder

Ferrari’s greatest interpretation of a grand tourer had to carve out its own from the shadow of the 250. But that wasn’t enough. Famed US dealer Luigi Chinetti enlisted Sergio Scaglietti to take a 275 and chop off the roof. Of course, it was much more than that: The resulting North American Racing Team Spyder became a movie star alongside Steve McQueen, as well as one of the rarest Ferraris ever built. Chinetti wanted to build a whopping 25, but just ten came out of the Scaglietti workshops. Back then, Chinetti had to move ‘em at a discount just to clear out the showroom. Today, it shouldn’t be a surprise that things are a little bit different.

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1967 Dino 206 Competizione Prototipo

The 246 Dino gave way to a long line of Ferraris with their V8s behind the seats, a lineage that proudly continues to this day. This little slice of the future was the first project ever completed by Paolo Martin, which launched his career with Ferrari as well as Lancia, Fiat, De Tomaso, and Rolls-Royce. (Maybe the less said about that, the better.) Martin was just 23 when his design came to life at Pininfarina, and later he would reminisce: “I remember it as my first love and it is my favorite one.”

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1967 Ferrari 330 P4

Every hero needs a villain. In 1966, Ford famously stuck it to Enzo and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a photo finish. The next year, Ferrari struck back. At Daytona, two P4s and an older 412 P completed their own one-two-three photo finish. It would prove to be a thorn in Ford’s sports car efforts all year, and while sure, Ford won Le Mans again (by just four laps), Ferrari won the World Sportscar Championship season overall. While looking good the whole time, we might add. Did we mention that each was built by hand? And they only built three?

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1970 Ferrari Modulo

We were promised hovercars to the moon by 1980. And if science fiction came true, we’d be blasting to Moon Base 2000 in this: the Modulo, one of the most incredible concept cars ever built. Based on a 512 race car, complete with its 500-horsepower V12, the Modulo is lower to the ground than a chicken thigh, with a giant unfolding canopy and just the barest exposures of wheels. It looks like a spaceship. Pininfarina, ailing and bankrupt, sold it in 2014 to international man of mystery James Glickenhaus, who plans to restore it to road legality. Hopefully he can make it fly.

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1973 Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer

Enzo Ferrari was nothing if not stubborn. And it took a lot of cajoling and pleading from his engineers to convince him that a mid-engined car was in fact perfectly suitable for his customers, who may or may not have deserved all of that race-car tech. He gave in. And when he did, the company came up with this: an F1-derived flat-twelve, mounted long-ways behind the seats, that could propel this wedge-shaped animal up to 175 miles per hour. Just like the Dino gave way to Ferrari’s mid-engined V8 legacy, without the BB, there’d be no Testarossa, no F40, no F50, no Enzo, no LaFerrari.

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1975 Ferrari 312T

In 1975, Ferrari hadn’t won a Driver’s Championship in 11 years. So chief engineer Mauro Forghieri designed something new: a clean-sheet aluminum monocoque, revised suspension, new aerodynamics, and a first-for-Ferrari transverse gearbox to improve handling. The result? A young Austrian upstart you named Niki Lauda brought home his first World Championship. The 312T and its revisions would go on to net Ferrari four Constructors Championships, 27 victories total, and three Drivers Championships. The drought was over, and Ferrari was back.

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1984 Ferrari 288 GTO

FIA’s Group B is spoken about with hushed tones nowadays, possibly because we can’t believe the sorts of things that might have competed: like the Porsche 959, a perpetual thorn in Ferrari’s side, and this—a mid-engined, twin-turbo V8 that would have stomped on the dirt, had the whole series not been cancelled. Oh well. Ferrari still built 272 for homolgation purposes, and each one looks like Magnum PI’s famed 308 except imbued with anabolic steroids. Enzo personally gave Niki Lauda one of the last ones built as a gift. Who says Il Commendatore wasn’t a nice guy?

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1988 Ferrari F40

Enzo’s last project before his death in 1988 was also one of his most beloved creations. Race car technology for the street is a Madison Avenue cliché, but it behooves us to remember where it came from: a carbon-fiber tub, Kevlar body panels, a twin-turbocharged V8 with a near-8,000-RPM redline, and a suspension like a work of art—hell, the whole thing was a direct evolution of the aforementioned 288 GTO, an actually-proposed race car. And like any rare-air Ferrari, you can’t get into one these days for less than a million. Just like Enzo would’ve wanted.

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2004 Ferrari F2004 F1 car

It’s the greatest F1 car Ferrari ever built, coupled with the greatest modern driver ever. How’s this for a jawdropper: That year, Michael Schumacher won 12 out of the season’s 13 races. He earned his fifth Drivers Championship in a row, his 7th and last World Championship, and Ferrari’s 6th straight Constructors Championship. The F2004 took 12 pole positions, won 15 out of 20 races, and took 14 lap records. What a way to celebrate 50 years of Scuderia Ferrari. Said one former Ferrari F1 engineer: “It really had it all at every single circuit, whether high-speed, low-speed, whatever. You could have done the bloody Mille Miglia in it and it would still have won!”

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2005 Ferrari FXX

Let's pretend a car salesman gives you an offer. He’s got a car to sell you. Only you don’t actually own the car. (He gets to hold on to it, in Italy.) You can drive it, but only when he allows you to. But you can't take it on the road with all of the other Philistines. And and it costs 1.5 million Euros. To anyone, this sounds like an insane proposition, but for the hedge-fund Tifosi this is a velvet rope, drawn aside, a peek behind the curtain: the most extreme version of Ferrari’s most extreme road car, the Enzo, Ferrari’s FXX launched an erstatz crowdfunded R&D program that’s now become a hypercar standard. Aston Martin has a similar program with its $2.3 million Vulcan, as does McLaren and its P1 GTR. And if you love swearing in Italian around the Fiorano test track, the new FXX K awaits your bank check.

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