With all the recent talk about Ferrari, it is appropriate to end the month with thoughts from The Colonel on Ferrari. Although he already mentioned his opinion a few days ago.
Lets get going...
Q: Colonel Good Morning, how long have you been aware and experienced Ferrari's?
A: Its been a few decades.
Q: A few decades, what an understatement, the plate on that car is from 1965, its almost 50 years.
A: Told you it was a few decades...(sly grin).
Q: It was literally in the early days of Ferrari in Montreal.
A: Yes...the early days, George Wooley, Luigi (Luigi Della Grotta) and Nicola the official mechanics in Montreal.
Q: There must have been something magical about the cars back then.
A: Totally magical, being up close and getting the occasional ride in Ferrari's were memorable experiences that endure a life time.
Q: At one point Ferrari's moved away from the "artisanal" realm into a more structured dealer network.
A: Obvious...they did, and for some reason an element of the magic was gone, although the occasional visit to Luigi's shop in Ville St.Laurent would still fire up the magic.
Q: Luigi had a shop downtown?
A: Originally it was on Ste.Catherine on the second floor, a small place with a sliding fire door, then he moved to Ville St.Laurent...Luigi was a mythical figure in Montreal.
Q: You are still a Ferrari fan.
A: Absolutely...I still vividly remember a ride in a Daytona Spyder on a beautiful sunny day.
Q: What was it with the musica?
A: It was the 12 cylinders, mechanical lifters, Weber carbureters, today its the flat crank on the V8's.
Q: You saw Gilles Villeneuve win the first Grand Prix in Montreal.
A: Yes...on a cold blustery October day, a magical moment, Montreal, Ferrari, first Grand Prix.
Q: You had bumped into Villeneuve a few years earlier.
A: Yes...in the pits at Trois Rivieres in 1976 he was driving in Formula Atlantic, it stuck me that he was a physically small individual. But he was huge and fiery on the track, fearless.
Q: Perhaps a little too fearless.
A: Yes...you sort of knew how it was going to end, and surely Enzo Ferrari also knew.
Q: Lets fast forward to today and the dramatic changes at Ferrari.
A: Ferrari almost sold to Henry Ford, they had a gentlemen's agreement on the deal, which Enzo at the last minute reneged. Henry got pissed off, and beat Ferrai for a few years at LeMans, with the GT40's of the time. Then Gianni Agnelli bought Ferrari through Fiat. While Enzo remained the supreme ruler of Ferrari.
Q: The Agnelli sphere of influence and style is long gone at Fiat, and perhaps di Montezemolo was the last hold over at Ferrari.
A: Precisely...these folks were like Italian royalty, and automotive royalty.
Q: Today its the Elkann sphere of influence at Fiat, and Sergio Marchionne.
A: Yes...it is (lets not forget that Fiat was in trouble, Sergio got Wagoner of GM to pay 2 Billions to get out of the "put option" to acquire Fiat).
Q: The global luxury markets are shifting.
A: Absolutely, we all know where, or we should.
Q: Raising Ferrari production might not dilute the brand in established markets.
A: Ferrari is at the top of their game in established markets. Its the new markets that require additional production.
Q: You cannot be a global brand without a compelling presence in the emerging global luxury markets.
A: Precisely...you guys are good. There is an analogy between George Wooley, Luigi, Nicola from way back in the day, to Enzo, di Montezemolo, today, and 20 years from now.