There’s something initially a little sad in calling this book The Golden Years, especially as its chapter headings range from ‘On top of the world’ to ‘Approaching the final finishing line’, almost as though Ferrari’s glory has been gone for the last 30 years. You have to open it to discover that it’s Enzo’s years it covers, finishing as it does with the death of the man whose name the cars bear. Since then there have been many triumphs, although the hectic leaps and plunges of the Scuderia’s success chart have been almost as exciting to follow as watching a Ferrari winning at Monza. While there were barren years and terrible tragedies between 1947 and 1988 too, golden things did happen while the man himself was in charge and they’re dramatically captured in this enlarged and revised edition of a book first published in the marque’s 70th year.
It’s a big, heavy volume, and the sheer size and number of images might make you feel that this is entirely photo-led, but there is text in between the images, consisting of succinct but readable summaries in English and Italian of the firm’s competition activities decade by decade. What makes it a pleasure to leaf through, though, are the photos themselves, mostly taken by Franco Villani. Some are terrific action shots but more involving are the trackside, paddock or factory images, casual and often intimate pictures of the men and the era: a tactics discussion with Romolo Tavoli, Carlo Chiti and Giancarlo Baghetti; Baghetti with a camera snapping Phil Hill climbing out of his car; a powerful portrait of Enzo and Tazio Nuvolari in animated discussion before the Mille Miglia. Most are in black and white but there is some fine colour too: an atmospheric shot of John Surtees on Monaco’s waterfront flagstones with an almost empty harbour behind made me sigh for simpler days. On the other hand a shocking picture of the utterly shredded remnants of Eugenio Castellotti’s car after his fatal crash reminds us why safety colours all today.
Figures central to the legend get their slots too, whether designers, managers or mechanics, so that mentions of Chiti, Ermanno Cuoghi or Franco Gozzi have their context. And if captions are sometimes a bit hard to connect to their photos, it’s an excuse to linger longer in a golden era.