The history of the Ferrari prancing horse logo is a fascinating one. Every minute detail of the emblem is steeped in history, filled with triumph, loss, bravery, and good luck. Nowadays, the prancing black horse on the yellow background is synonymous with Ferrari supercars, but that wasn’t always the case. Did you know that other well-known automobile manufacturers use the prancing horse in their logos, albeit in a different style?
It’s perhaps the most famous car logo throughout the world, which is a pretty amazing feat considering the millions of cars out there. It’s almost impossible not to recognize a Ferrari when you see one on the street—even if you don’t know what type of car it is—due to the prancing horse logo.
We’re here to deconstruct the history of the logo, and to give you some strange and fascinating facts about it. Here are 16 weird facts about Enzo Ferrari’s logo.
16 Francesco Baracca’s Fighter Plane
The prancing logo that is now eponymous with Ferrari was actually first spotted on the fuselage of the fighter plane of Francesco Baracca. He was a heroic airman during the first World War, or an “asso” (ace) in the Italian airforce. The horse logo painted on the sides of his planes were a bit different than Enzo’s, which we’ll get into in a minute.
15 Enzo Couldn’t Use The Logo For 11 Years
We’re not sure why Enzo Ferrari was not allowed to use the logo for 11 years after he first saw it—possibly out of respect for Countess Paulina’s fallen son, Francesco. But at the first opportunity he could, the logo was put on the Alfa Romeo race cars that won the grand prix of 1932. And because Alfa won that year, Enzo believed the shield brought him luck, so he continued to use it. Imagine if Alfa had lost—the Ferrari logo might have been scrapped and become something completely different!
14 A Representation Of Bravery And Admiration
Ferrari added the canary yellow background because it was the color of his birth city, Modena. He added the SF letters, which stands for “Scuderia Ferrari,” but the symbol had even greater significance. Because Francesco Baracca died at a very early age, and had led several valiant battles for the Italian air force before being shot down after his 34th victorious mission, he had a reputation for bravery and admiration, which Enzo embodied in his logo.
13 Baracca First Saw The Logo Somewhere Else
Enzo saw the prancing horse on the side of Francesco Baracca’s fighter plane, but where did Francesco first see the horse? Did he make the logo up? The answer is no—it’s reported that he saw the rampant horse on the aircraft of a German fighter that had been shot down during the first World War. Also, the Baracca family was wealthy and owned a large stable of horses, which gave him further inspiration.
12 Baracca’s “Battaglione Aviatori”
Francesco Baracca used the hopping horse on his fighter plane for a few reasons. He was a national hero, and his team of fighters were known as the “Battaglione Aviatori.” He was the best cavalier on his team, and his team also became enrolled in a horse regiment for the Italian army. So the horse was another symbolic gesture of his team’s prowess in the air and on steeds.
11 Scuderia Ferrari Coat Of Arms
The prancing horse was first seen on the fuselage of a German fighter jet, and the German city of Stuttgart maintains the logo as its emblem. The name of the city is a version of the old German word “Gestut,” which means “stud farm,” and is related to horses. When translated to Italian, that word is “Scuderia,” which is believe to be the origins of the “SF” title in the Ferrari logo.
10 Porsches Also Use The Prancing Horse
Although Ferrari is eponymous with the prancing horse logo, they are not the only exotic car company to use it. Porsche has a smaller version of the horse on its hind legs in its gold shield. This makes sense because of the origins of the emblem from Stuttgart, in Germany, and of course Porsche is a German car brand.
9 Ducati Used The Logo For A While
Another famous brand that uses the logo was Ducati, another Italian manufacturer, although of motorcycles, not cars. Fabio Taglioni of Ducati used the logo for years on his motorbikes, but he eventually abandoned it. It was assumed he abandoned the logo due to a gentleman’s agreement with Enzo, to allow Ferrari the sold use of the brand logo. It’s now trademarked by Ferrari.
8 Enzo Made Changes To The Prancing Horse
Enzo didn’t directly take Francesco Baracca’s design and implement it into his logo. The horse that Baracca painted was red and it was enveloped in a cloud. Enzo chose the color of black for his horse. The most marked difference was in the tail of the horse—Baracca’s pointed downward, whereas Ferrari’s points upward, to give it that jovial, “prancing” look.
7 The Color Of Grief And Mourning
Like we said earlier, every detail of the Ferrari logo was chosen for a very specific reason. For instance, the reason that Enzo painted his horse black instead of red wasn’t for aesthetic purposes (though it does look good on the yellow background) but because it is the color of grief and mourning. The untimely death of Baracca left his fellow airmen saddened and in great distress, as well as his parents, so Enzo used black as a way to venerate him.
6 A Symbol Of Power, Speed, And Sportiness
So, if the color of the horse symbolizes grief and mourning, the yellow background symbolizes bravery and admiration, what does the entire logo represent? In Enzo’s mind, the Ferrari horse is a symbol of power, speed, and sportiness. All of those qualities are interpreted in each Ferrari vehicle manufactured, and even if people aren’t familiar with the history of the logo itself, everyone is familiar with the power and speed of Ferrari cars.
5 The National Colors
The final detail of the logo is one that most people might not even recognize. The logo isn’t just a prancing horse on a yellow background with the letters “S.F.” under it. At the top of the symbol is a crown of green, red, and white stripes. These are the national colors of Italy, and they’ve been carefully crafted into the logo because they were important to the Ferrari family.
4 It Will Bring You Luck!
In 1923, Enzo Ferrari met the mother and father of the legendary Francesco Baracca, who had died at a young age. As the legend goes, in Enzo’s words, “In ’23, I met Count Enrico Baracca, the hero’s father, and then his mother, Countess Paulina, who said to me one day, ‘Ferrari, put my son’s prancing horse on your cars. It will bring you good luck.” And so he did, and sure enough, he was met with overwhelming luck on the race tracks.
3 Background Colored After Enzo’s Birthplace
Every iota of the Ferrari logo is specifically detailed and means something important. For instance, as Enzo put it, “I added the canary yellow background, which is the color of Modena.” Modena is Enzo Ferrari’s birthplace. A little known fact, Modena is also the birthplace of balsamic vinegar, not that that has anything to do with cars.
2 First Appeared On Alfa Romeo Race Cars
Before Enzo could put the prancing horse logo on his own Ferraris, the Ferrari shield first appeared on the Alfa Romeo cars of the Scuderia racing team at the Grand Prix of Spa, in 1932. And who would win the grand prix championships that year? Alfa Romeo constructed cars won all three rounds, in Italy, France, and Germany. So, apparently Paulina’s mysticism about good luck wasn’t that farfetched.
1 The 125 S Was The First Ferrari To Bear The Logo
The Ferrari 125 S race car was the first official Ferrari car to bear the prancing horse logo. This didn’t happen until 1947, and it was the first car produced at Maranello, which is now the home of Ferrari manufacturing. However, within the shield, the letters S and F (Scuderia Ferrari) were replaced by the word “Ferrari.” Thus, the Ferrari brand was born, and it’s been on every car produced in Maranello since then.
References: logodesignlove.com, moneyinc.com, mentalfloss.com, quora.com