2001: Luca di Montezemolo
President of Ferrari
In our words: “At Ferrari, they call him avvocato (he is a lawyer by training) or capo (an affectionate generic term for all Italian bosses), but the title Luca di Montezemolo most deserves is commendatore…In the three interviews I have conducted with LdM over the years, all I ever experienced was the friendly and outgoing side of one of the most charismatic captains of the auto industry.”
In his words: “No, I don’t want to leave Ferrari. Ferrari is very special, and Ferrari has been very good to me. But the pressure has become enormous; win or lose, heads or tails, be a hero or an idiot. I don’t enjoy this part of the business anymore. And that’s why I would never say never, especially if an offer came along that allowed me to work in the U.S.–a country I like a lot–in an intimate environment with the product…But that’s a castle in the air.”
What happened next: Di Montezemolo didn’t leave Ferrari–he’s still the Chairman there, among other positions. Ferrari continued its upward trend in product quality–replacing 456 with 612 and then FF; 360 giving way to 430 and 458; 550 making way for the 575M Maranello, 599GTB Fiorano, and F12berlinetta–that continues to this day.