If you love cars, any trip to Italy isn’t complete without a visit to Modena, Italy’s ‘Motor City’ and home to Ferrari. Go to Modena any day of the year and the town is practically painted red from all the Ferrari flags and banners and related businesses. There are Ferrari-themed restaurants, cafés, hotels, and of course rental-car shops. You can literally eat, sleep, and drive Ferrari.
But if you want to truly immerse yourself in the history of the storied marque while getting up close with some of its iconic cars, a trip the pair of Ferrari museums is just the ticket. Once you’ve accepted the fact that these facilities are in many ways tourist traps, they’re quite a good way to kill some time. The entry fees are €17 ($19) each or €20 ($22) for a pass for both. That’s probably the best Ferrari-related deal in the world. Now, on to the museums:
Museo Ferrari Maranello
Located opposite the Ferrari museum, the Maranello museum focuses more on the history of the Prancing Horse from its various motorsports victories to how it became a legend on both circuit and road. There’s a permanent exhibit with the various trophies Ferrari has accumulated over 90 years of competition, while the road-car display varies from time to time.
While I was there, the main focus was on hypercars as well as a special display with the P80/C. To celebrate Ferrari’s nine decades of racing, it also had various examples of its successful closed-wheel racers. Most of the special classic cars displayed at both museums are privately owned.
As you enter the museum, you’re immediately greeted by a silver Ferrari 250LM. In the rare livery of silver over a blue interior, this car is a special example of the breed. It was originally built for competition in 1965 but was brought back to the factory to be converted for road use. Now owned by a French collector, the French tricolore stripe was added.
Moving on, the 488 Pista Piloti was displayed to show the various Tailor Made options available to Ferrari clients, and the Special Projects division was showcased via the stunning P80/C. Shown here in presentation form, it doesn’t have the crazy aero package fitted and is closer to the purer design form.
Of course, the hypercar section was thick with cars that don’t need any introduction, including the 288 GTO, F40, F50, Enzo, and LaFerrari. The inclusion of the track-only Ferrari FXXK was a nice touch, with car No. 45 coming all the way from the United States. The rest of the museum follows a timeline featuring various F1 cars and road racers such as the 365 P2.
Museo Enzo Ferrari
The yellow-roofed Museo Enzo Ferrari is more specific in what it houses, even as the exhibitions change regularly. This museum focuses more on the life and story of Enzo Ferrari from his early childhood to when he discovered racing, became a race driver, and started Scuderia Ferrari. Enzo’s father’s workshop was also renovated to house the Engine Museum. Dedicated to the engine history of Ferrari, there are various F1 powerplants on show, as well as V-6, V-8, V-12, turbocharged, and hybrid engines for road cars.
The main exhibit during our visit was called Capo Lavori Senza Tempo, or “Timeless Masterpieces.” It focused on Ferrari’s front-engine GTs in celebration of the introduction of the new Ferrari Monza SP1 and SP2.
People often forget before Ferrari was known for its mid-engine cars, it was the front-engine, V-12–powered GTs that started the road-car business. The glamorous models such as the 275 GTB, 250 GT Lusso, and 365 GTB/4 Spider are on display, as are modern counterparts such as the 575 Superamerica, 612 Scaglietti Sessanta, and GTC4Lusso. Of course, a bright red Monza SP1 sits proudly inside, diagonally positioned from the 750 Monza at the start of the timeline, the SP1’s spiritual predecessor.
Among everything, one car stood out most of all: a dark blue 250 GTO. Not that such a thing exists as an ordinary 250 GTO—a car that was just legally declared a work of art—but chassis #3589GT is extraordinary because of its accompanying story. Originally painted red and delivered to the U.K., it is one of a handful of factory right-hand-drive GTOs. After racing in the U.K., it went on to compete in the Bahamas before contesting the 1963 12 Hours of Sebring.
While in America it raced for two years and was then given to Victoria High School in Texas for auto-mechanic students to study. It was sold in the early ’70s to a man named Joe Korton, who kept it on a trailer in a field and exposed to the elements for 14 years, when he eventually sold it. It was restored and then bought by a Swiss collector who still owns the car today.
It’s seeing special cars with special stories that make visiting these museums worthwhile, and they’re plentiful when the company in question has a history as rich as Ferrari’s. It’s a privilege to be able to get up close to these cars, as most of the time they’re locked away in collections. If you go, just be wary of the gift shop. That’s how they get you.