The house Enzo Ferrari was born in
The Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari is named after, and located in and around the house Enzo Ferrari was born in back in 1898. Having opened its doors in 2012, the museum nevertheless looks beyond the achievements of just one man and his company, and instead pays tribute to all the manufacturers and coach builders that were based in the Modena area. The museum uses the old house and adjoining workshop of Enzo's father Alfredo and a new, purpose-built museum building. The latter was designed Jan Kaplicky and features a distinct yellow roof, which is the official colour of Modena and was also used by Ferrari for the prancing horse shield. The interior is dominated by a large open space, in which around two dozen cars can be displayed on special pedestals. These allow visitors to walk around each of the cars without their view being interrupted by any form of barrier. The house and workshop areas of the museum focus more on the business and personal life of Enzo Ferrari, including a reconstruction of his office. All this and much more can be found in this 80-shot gallery
While the main, theme-based car display inside the museum changes every six to nine months, the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari also has a permanent collection. This consists mainly of documents, photographs and other memorabilia that tell the story of the Modenese manufacturers and their suppliers. Those that not directly relate to Enzo Ferrari are placed in display cases on the wall of the main museum and provide intriguing history lessons. Enzo Ferrari's story is told inside the building he grew up in and later sold to finance his racing endeavours. Inside the workshop his father used to help service the nearby railway lines, a collection of fascinating attributes can be found. These range from the sales brochure of the first ever Ferrari to the characteristic sunglasses Enzo Ferrari used to wear to protect his eyes. Also on display is the tail section of Italian fighter ace Francesco Baracca, who was credited with 34 aerial victories before he was shot down in 1918. His mother later presented the 'cavallino rampante' or prancing horse Baracce used to adorn his fighter plane with to Enzo Ferrari.
Ferrari-Maserati, the great challenges
The museum's second theme based display focused on the rivalry of Ferrari and Maserati on the racing track during the 1950s and 1960s. Although Maserati had been founded in Bologna, the Italian manufacturer was moved to Modena by its new owners in 1940, which at about the same time Enzo Ferrari built his very first car. In the years following the War, the manufacturers went head-to-head both in single seater and sports car racing. Ferrari usually had one up on the local rival until the 1957 season when Maserati signed the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss to race their very well developed 250F single seater and 300S and 450S sports cars. Fangio dominated the Formula 1 world championship, and up until the Venezuelan Grand Prix in Caracas, the sports car championship was also within grasp. Sadly it ended in disaster as all the works cars were involved in big accidents, one even before the race. Having spent the last of their resources, Maserati withdrew from racing at the end of the year, ending the on-track rivalry between the two great makes.
Supplied by private collectors and other museums, 16 Ferraris and Maseratis were displayed to mark the rivalry. Additionally, they were also beautifully documented in a special book, listing each car's history individually. Among the cars presented by the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari were the 1953 Ferrari 340 MM driven to victory in that year's Mille Miglia by Giannino Marzotto and Marco Crosaro and the prototype of the awe-inspiring Maserati 450S, which won two races in 1957 and brought Maserati on the brink of the world championship. Also on hand were two attempts from the Italian manufacturers to take on the American Indy racers, failing miserably on both accounts. Underestimating the challenges of racing at Indy, Ferrari sent over four racing cars to the 1952 Indy 500, of which just one managed to qualify. The example on display was actually not even entered as after testing the driver opted to run his 'agricultural' Indy Roadster instead. Maserati's 420/M/58 was built for the 1958 Race of two Worlds, which saw American cars take on purpose-built European racers. Powered by a downsized version of the 450S V8, the car proved no match for the well-honed Indy racers, even in the hands of Stirling Moss.
By the time of writing the Ferrari-Maserati display is about to be replaced by a brand new collection of Formula 1 cars from 1950 through to 1994, which of course include Ferraris but also machinery from rivals like Alfa Romeo, Mercedes-Benz, Lancia, Porsche, Ligier and Williams. This exhibition will open its doors on May 3rd.
For enthusiasts visiting Modena, the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari is a great starting point as it offers a very enjoyable history lesson and adds some perspective to the area's very rich automotive heritage. The museum is open year-round with the exception of Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Guided tours are available as are audio-guides. Tickets are available separately or as a combined ticket with the official Ferrari Museum. The two museums are connected by special buses.