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Republica San Marino, April 20, 2010

In December 2009 the Collezione Maranello Rosso celebrated the 20th anniversary of its foundation, but sadly, the following month witnessed the passing of its founder, Fabrizio Violati, who departed this mortal coil on 21 January 2010, at the age of 74. I had the good fortune to meet him on a number of occasions, and he was great company at dinner, always charming and with a great sense of fun and humour. He was also an accomplished driver, not only in historic racing where he won the European Championship with his 250 GTO, but also in modern racing in period, both as a driver and as an entrant of Ferrari 512 BB/LMs, notably at Le Mans in the early eighties. I vividly recall a race for 250 GTOs held at the Mas du Clos circuit in France, on the occasion of the model’s 25th anniversary in 1987, where he and an American GTO owner, Bob Bodin, had a spectacular dice for the lead in horrible wet conditions, leaving the rest of the field, quite literally, in their wake. Fabrizio took the chequered flag first by half a car’s length, and they both had wide grins on their faces when they stepped out of their cars, so they had enjoyed the battle as much, or maybe more, than us watching it.

Over the years he built up an impressive collection of Ferrari and Abarth cars, his great passion being for his native Italian machinery, together with numerous spares and automobile artefacts, plus works of art and antiques. During the eighties he decided that he wanted to preserve the Ferrari legend, and was deeply involved in discussions with Enzo Ferrari about his idea to create a monument to the company. However, Enzo Ferrari didn’t live long enough, passing away in August 1988, to see Fabrizio’s vision come to fruition, which it did in 1989. The original location of the museum was “up the hill” in the historic centre of San Marino, but moved “down the road” to its present location some years ago, as they had the idea to incorporate a museum featuring the cars of Carlo Abarth, plus the new facility provided more and better lit display space, with good on site parking facilities for visitors. Fortunately, for lovers of the Ferrari and Abarth marques, the legacy that Fabrizio left lives on through Sandra Lodi Vetrano, who has been deeply involved with the organisation of and responsible for, the running of the Collezione Maranello Rosso since its inception. Thus she continues with the responsibility of cherishing and safeguarding this important assembly of Italy’s cultural heritage, with Fabrizio guiding from above, both Fabrizio and Sandra being honoured with a merit award by Italian President Sen. Giorgio Napolitano in 2010, for the “significant contribution to the image of the excellence of <<Made in Italy>> in the world”.

The museum halls, refurbished in 2009, are on a number of levels, with the main Ferrari display halls, dedicated to the life and products of Enzo Ferrari and his company, providing an almost ethereal atmosphere, with their lofty ceilings, together with the décor and artefacts on display around the cars and on the walls. They also feature mid-level galleries overlooking the displays, housing the library, including a complete collection of Ferrari Yearbooks up to 1970, plus a wide selection of memorabilia, including steering wheels, artwork, engines, mechanical components and models. The Abarth halls are at a lower level in the building, surrounding the Scrigno Conference Centre, where around forty examples of the cars produced by Carlo Abarth, with their famous “Scorpione” logo, are on display. These are mainly Fiat derived models, although there are also examples of the beautifully sculpted Simca Abarths, and range from modified Fiat saloons like the diminutive 595 SS, through the 124 Abarth and 131 Abarth models, to a wide range of GT models like the Bialbero, to sports prototypes and monopostos. The Scrigno Conference Centre can host gatherings from 25 – 550 people, for functions ranging from cocktail receptions to gala dinners, surrounded by the cars, art and memorabilia of the collection, providing a very special atmosphere for the party.

The core of the Ferrari collection is the range of 250 series cars that dominated GT racing in the fifties and sixties, ranging from a stunning white with a blue stripe 250 MM PF berlinetta, through the 250 GT series, including examples of the 250 GT “Tour de France” berlinetta, the 250 GT “Interim” version of the same model, the 250 GT “passo corto” berlinetta, and the triple World Championship winning 250 GTO model. Amongst the other models on display, which range from a 1950 195 S Coupé Vignale to a F40, there are also a pair of rare road going examples of the 250 GT series. The first is a beautiful white ex-Marilyn Monroe 250 GT S1 PF Cabriolet, complete with the rare optional hardtop, and a sleek dark blue 250 GT “passo corto” Coupé Aerodynamico.

The collection doesn’t only encompass GT street and racing cars, but also includes a pair of rare sports racing cars, a 1963 330 P and a 1965 330 P2/3, together with a pair of monopostos, a Dino 246 Tasman and an ex-Gilles Villeneuve 312 T3 from 1978. There is also the last 512 BB/LM to race at Le Mans in 1984, entered by Fabrizio Violati’s Scuderia Bellancauto, finished in the attractive red with “blue bubbles” livery representing the sponsorship of his Ferrarelle mineral water company. If there is one criticism that could be made of the displays, it is the proximity of the low tubular protective barriers around the cars, which make it difficult for the average visitor to get unobstructed photographs of the cars. However, these were removed for us during our visit, and they are less obtrusive than the ropes dangling from stanchions that one finds in some museums displays.

Apart from the main display areas there is also the private Galleria d’Arte with the subtitle “Ferrari Incontri d’Arte” (Ferrari Meets Art), where antique furniture, porcelain, musical instruments, sculptures and artwork rub shoulders with Ferrari images, a chassis, an engine and the Vespa motor scooter that Fabrizio Violati used for stunt riding in his youth. All the private areas are available for special gatherings, like a special dinner in the museum or a cocktail reception in the art gallery, or for guests during private or public motor sports events. Press conferences for private companies, or company incentive gatherings can also be accommodated, and all are organised directly by the Maranello Rosso staff. Upcoming in 2010 will be a new Maranello Rosso website, which will be a real “Made in Italy” portal to the museum, dedicated to history, design, art and culture of the last century. The entrance foyer features a well stocked boutique, offering a wide range of models, plus accessories unique to the museum, together with their own range of “Made in Italy” clothing with the collection logo, all at reasonable prices.

The museum is easy to find at Strada dei Censiti 21, 47891 Falciano, Republicca San Marino. One leaves the A14 Autostrada at the Rimini Sud exit, then follow the signs to Republica San Marino, after about 8kms you will see the exit sign for Falciano, and the imposing museum building can be seen to the left of the road. The exit slip road loops under the main road, and literally brings you to the front door of the museum on your right. Further information about opening hours, entry fees, group visits, conference facilities etc, can be found at www.maranellorosso.com

With grateful thanks to Alessio Vetrano and the staff of Maranello Rosso for facilitating the visit, and being charming hosts as well as informative and very helpful guides during the tour of the museum’s halls.

The Ferraris on Display in the Collezione Maranello Rosso

Gran Turismo

Year Model Colour Chassis #
1951 195 S Coupé Vignale Red/Tan 0151S
1953 250 MM PF Berlinetta White-Blue Stripe/Blue 0312MM
1955 250 GT Berlinetta Comp’ Red/Black 0539GT
1957 250 GT PF S1 Cabriolet with hardtop White/Beige 0759GT
1956 250 GT Berlinetta Comp’ “Tour de France” Red/Black 0619/ 0805GT
1959 250 GT Berlinetta Comp’ “Interim” Red/Black 1461GT
1959 250 GT PF Coupé Red/Black 1255GT
1960 250 GT Berlinetta Comp’ “Passo Corto” Red/Black 2025GT
1962 250 GTE 2+2 Coupé Blue Met’/Black 3429GT
1962 250 GT Coupé Aerodynamico “Passo Corto” Dark Blue/Cream 3615GT
1962 250 GTO Red/Black 3851GT
1963  250 GT Lusso Green Met’/Beige 5177GT
1965 275 GTB Dark Green/Black 08035
1964 330 GT 2+2 White/Black 5797
1966 330 GT 2+2 Silver/Black 8409
1968 330 GTC Silver/Black 11265
1969 365 GT 2+2 Grey Met’/Cream 11873
1968 365 GTC Bronze Met’/Cream 12655
1970 365 GTB/4 Dark Blue/Black-Red 13537
1971 365 GTC/4 Pale Blue Met’/Black 15985
1973 365 GT4 2+2 Pale Blue Met’/Black 17261
1987 F40 Red/Red 89460
1967 Dino 206 GT Dark Red Met’/Black 00338
1970 Dino 246 GT Red/Black-Blue 00696
1976 Dino 208 GT4 Red/Black-Red 11468

Monoposto, Sport e Prototipo

1968 Dino 246 Tasman Red/Black 0008
1978 312 T3 Red-White/Black 033
1963 330 P Red/Blue 0818
1965 330 P2/3 Red/Black-Red 0828
1969 365 GTB/4 Comp’ Conv’* Red/Black
12719 1970 365 GTB/4 Comp’ Conv’* Red/Black
12765 1982 512 BB/LM Red-“Blue Bubbles” 35529

1959 ASA (Ferrarina) Red/Black 01018

* Converted to competition specification in 1973/74 by Giocchino Vari, Assistenza Ferrari, Roma.

Keith Bluemel