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1940 Auto Avio Costruzioni 815

This is the first car developed by Enzo Ferrari himself. Well, not really, because chassis, gearbox and parts of the engine came from the Fiat 508 C. Also, it was not a 12 cylinder, but a straight-mounted eight-cylinder engine, practically contrived from two 508-engines. However, not with 2.2 liter cubic capacity, which would have corresponded precisely to double the size of one of the original engines, but reduced to 1.5 litres, which made it interesting, at least for class victories in the last long-distance races before the Second World War.

The car body came from the Touring company, founded in 1926 by Felice Anderloini in Milan. He put a great deal of effort into creating a sort of "Ferrari" design with a touch of luxury. Because of the performance in racing, the aerodynamics were also important. It was tested in road trials on public streets. Try to imagine, a vehicle with small material strips pasted to the coachwork and being photographed from another vehicle.

No, this here is not yet the Scuderia Ferrari which pottered around. That was founded only after the Second World War. Ferrari's company was called‚ "Auto Avio Costruzioni". It developed, more or less, from an emergency situation. Ferrari's employment at Alfa was under heavy strain. During the last years, the German government had given massive support to Auto Union and Mercedes. This had a positive affect on their racing results, and was a disaster for the financially weak Italian companies.

Alfa was hit hard, and Maserati hardly less. One started looking for a way out and hired new people who were responsible, e.g., for the construction. Their style did not go down well with the ideas of the old-front. Thus, designers like Ferrari, and also e.g., Gioachino Colombo, who would later play an important role for Ferrari as a designer of the first 12 cylinder, left the company. Enzo Ferrari signed a contract which prevented him from building a vehicle under his own name for a period of four years. The attendant compensation allowed him to found the above mentioned company and with it, a working field for very gifted engineers.

Unfortunately, the first product born of this co-operation, although brilliantly planned, was not very successful. It was the, shortened because of the war, famous "Mille Miglia" of 1940 in which, by the way, the BMW 328 acquired its fame. Ferrari and his model 815 were not as fortunate, both cars dropped out.

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