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In 1954 Luigi Chinetti, close friend of the company founder, became the first importer of Ferrari into the ‘New World’. Today there are more than fifty dealerships across the American continent. Here we take a look at the reasons behind the continually growing enthusiasm ‘Stateside’ for the Prancing Horse. And the dedicated team working to that aim
Words: Jason Barlow / Photographs: Marc McAndrews

What is Ferrari? Much more than simply a car manufacturer or racing team, that’s for sure. It’s an almost primal force, represented by the colour red, and one of the world’s most immediately recognisable logos. And it’s a vehicle for story-telling, provider of a narrative arc that encompasses much of what excites us as human beings.

Yet even in a world that’s often hysterically inter-connected, Ferrari means different things in different places. In organising its retail business into distinct Hubs, Ferrari has addressed this challenge, standardising processes and applying best practice on a pan-regional basis whilst remaining alert to local peculiarities.

Pictured in Manhattan’s Soho district, from left: Melissa Fehley, Angelica Franco, Geoffrey Zinn, Louis Colmache, Gianfranco Mitrione, Grace Han, Brittany Soto and Matt Dusenberry

But when it comes to the Americas, the concept of a Hub is already well established. “North America has a contagious energy. This really is still the land of opportunity,” insists Matteo Torre, President of Ferrari North America since 2017. His remit also includes South America. It is a vibrant market, and a region that got on-board with what is a quintessentially Italian brand way before anyone even knew what a ‘brand’ actually was. There are currently 41 dealers in the United States, four in Canada, and seven in South America.

It was Luigi Chinetti, old friend and confidant of Enzo Ferrari, who first persuaded the company founder that the United States was a place worthy of his attention. Chinetti was a formidable racing driver, and a three-time winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours. But he was also the first official Ferrari importer to the ‘new world’, operating from premises on 11th Avenue in Manhattan.

That was in 1954, though he’d already been selling Ferrari to early adopters in America since the late 1940’s. Soon after came the famed North American Racing Team (N.A.R.T.), whose insignia has a particular resonance to this day. Enzo Ferrari the ‘engineer’ was also a born marketeer, and swiftly appreciated the star power of Hollywood’s new showbiz elite.

From left, image one: Chris Lantz, Jeffrey Furchak, Rita Bonura, Jessica Francis, Patrizio Sbaragli and Domenic Colasacco. Image two: Kenneth Fasano, Noah Williams, Carmen Velarde, Thomas Fleming, Paula Paipilla and Henry Yavorski. Image three: Carlo Mele, Lucia Giglio-Petrone, Sahar Elyasi, Bertrand Else, Giuseppe Di Salvo (seated), Michael Markiewicz, Carlotta Brotto, Carolina Zuniga and Trevor Smith. Image four: Amani Dyer, Stephanie Butler, Samantha White, Ivano Baroni, Krista Florin, Tony Qian, Paige Hope and Marco Valle

This market’s esoteric character continues to this day, as Torre confirms: “A Ferrari has almost nothing in common with the sort of cars Americans drive every day. But what resonates is the heritage, the way the cars look, and the exotic component. For an American it’s a sign that they have arrived.”

With 70 years of experience under its belt, the North American Ferrari Hub is a slick operation. Now based in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, the office is just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, where one of the few Tailor Made ateliers outside Maranello is located, on the corner of Park Avenue and 55th. Torre, who this year celebrates 25 years at Ferrari, is proud of the squad that he has helped assemble in the USA.

“We have 107 people on the team. It’s the largest office outside of Maranello because of the geography we’re covering, but also because of the complexity of this market.” He is also clear about the importance of diversity in the workplace. “Around 35 per cent of the team is female,” he points out. “For the automotive industry in the United States, we’re probably the benchmark.”

This Tailor Made Ferrari 812 Competizione was auctioned for over five million dollars at a charity gala event, organised by Ferrari North America, in New York City last year

This high-profile Ferrari region also enjoys a considerable degree of autonomy, but despite its importance to the business it doesn’t drift too far from the mothership. “The Hub’s role is to understand the market, report its specificity, and to translate the message from Maranello headquarters,” says Torre.

There are other important trends. Clients are getting younger; 40 per cent of new-to-Ferrari owners are less than 40 years-old. “We are seeing the next generation now engaging with the brand,” says Torre. “The popularity of Formula One is also helping. It’s now one of the most visible sports in the USA and we have three GPs here, plus races in Canada, Mexico, and Brazil.”

Ferrari too continues to grow. Its product bandwidth and fiscal performance would have left Luigi Chinetti rubbing his eyes in disbelief. Torre sees no diminution in desire for what is one of ‘the’ great luxury brands. “The world has definitely changed, and so have we. We are increasing production, mainly driven by demand, and the sense of exclusivity is even more pronounced than in the past. It was always said we should produce one less car than the demand. I can assure you, these days it’s a lot more than just one.”

Cover image – pictured in the Ferrari New York office, from left: Lima Miah, Kelly Stoker, Edoardo Rossi, Matteo Torre, Brittany Oldewurtel, Erik Ilisije, Andrew Juron, Catherine Santos, Gianluca Guzzo and Aleksandar Ivanovic