Thursday, March 22, 2018

Historic photos celebrate Enzo Ferrari's 120th birthday

Enzo Ferrari joined the Alfa Romea factory team as a works driver in 1920, aged just 20.

Maranello, Italy - The Ferrari museum is celebrating the 120th birthday of Enzo Ferrari, who was born on either 18 or 20 February 1898 in Modena, with an exhibition of rarely seen photos detailing the life of the man who to this day casts a giant shadow over Formula One racing and the company he founded.

It seems the controversy around the second son of cabinetry engineer Alfredo Ferrari and Adalgisa Bisbini started the day he was born. His birth was registered on the 20th but his father later claimed that his younger son was in fact born two days earlier. A huge snowstorm, he said, prevented him from visiting the local municipal office until the 20th.

The Ferrari family in 1906, from left Enzo, his older brother Dino, his father Alfredo and mother Adalgisa.
Young Enzo Anselmo Ferrari decided that he was going to be a racing driver at the age of 10, after watching Felice Nazzaro win the 1908 Circuito di Bologna, but the First World War intervened, and he was called up to serve in the 3rd Mountain Artillery Regiment of the Italian Army. Shortly before his discharge in 1918 his friend, fighter pilot Francesco Baracca, whose personal emblem was a prancing horse, gave Ferrari a pendant with a prancing horse “for safekeeping” before take-off on the day he was shot down by an Austrian pilot.

Enzo Ferrari's first job was as a test and race driver for Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazionali.  He drives a 15-20 Hp CMN in the 1919 Targa Florio with riding mechanic Nino Baretta.

Ferrari lost his father and brother in the great flu pandemic, and nearly died of it himself in 1918. When he was medically discharged from the army he started looking for a job in motorsport and, after a short stint as a test and racing driver for Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazionali (CMN) he joined Alfa Romeo’s racing team in 1920, where he rattled more than a few cages by finishing second in that year’s Targa Florio.

While still under restraint of trade to Alfa Romeo, Ferrari built two cars for the 1940 Brescia Grand Prix under the name Auto-Avio Costruzioni, one of which is still in the Righini Collection. Ferrari is at the rear right in this picture.
But the death of Antonio Ascari in 1925 and the birth of his son Dino in 1932 convinced Ferrari to become a team manager instead. He ran the huge Alfa Romeo racing division (at one stage it had more than 40 drivers on its payroll) until 1939, when the last of a series of arguments with Alfa Romeo management led him to go out on his own.

Enzo Ferrari, in the grey suit to the right of the cockpit, with the very first car to bear his name, the 125 S racing car, in the courtyard of the factory in May 1947. At the wheel is Ferdinando 'Nando' Righetti.
Once again war intervened, however, and it wasn’t until 1947 that the first Ferrari racing car appeared, wearing the now-iconic prancing horse emblem with the blessing of the Baracca family. Ferrari was one of the first to sign up when Formula One was invented in 1950, and won his first Grand Prix at Silverstone with Argentinian driver Jose Froilan Gonzalez. Legend has it Ferrari cried like a baby the first time one of his cars beat the hitherto all-conquering works Alfetta 159s.

Testing the first Ferrari 246 F1 car at Modena in 1958.  In the car is factory test driver Martino Severi.  Ferrari is third
from right; the big man next to him is legendary engine designer Carlo Chiti.  

The following year Alberto Ascari, son of the great Antonio, gave Ferrari the first of many world titles, but not enough wealthy ‘gentleman racers’ were lining up to buy replicas of his championship-winning machines, and Ferrari realised he would have to start selling street-legal versions of his sports-racing cars to finance his motorsport stable.

Impromptu trackside conference in 1965.  Il Commendetore is on the right; second from left, holding his crash helmet,
is works driver John Surtees.  On the transport behind them are a P3, left and a 250 GTO.

And the rest, as they say, is history; Ferrari sold 50 percent of his road car operation to Fiat in the 1960s but retained full control of the competition division until his death in 1988 - which, at his request, was not made public for 48 hours to make up for his father’s tardiness 90 years earlier!

He left a legacy of champions and championships, of autocratic leadership and some of the world’s finest racing and performance cars, that will never be equalled.

We here at l'art et l'automobile are proud to help celebrate the 120th birthday of il commendatore, the illustrious Enzo Ferrari, as well as the 70th anniversary of the Ferrari Brand. I in fact had the pleasure of working with him and was even in the process of writing a book of Ferrari based artwork with him shortly before he died. Obviously, without his knowledge and vision, said book could not be continued, but the art which he so gracefully wrought, in the form of his amazing machines, continues to fascinate and excite to this day.

Original Photo, contained in the l'art et l'automobile
collection, depicting Jose Froilan Gonzalez winning
the Grand Prix at Siverstone, autographed by the driver.
I will always remember and cherish our time together, and will always curate his legacy.

Jacques Vaucher
Owner and Curator
l'art et l'automobile

Be sure to visit our website at to view our collection of Ferrari Artwork and Memorabilia.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

John Fitch's Wild Rides

John Fitch and his Cunningham C-4R

John Fitch, Racer, Engineer, Inventor, Friend

John Cooper Fitch was born in Indianapolis in August of 1917. He was a descendent of the inventor of the steamboat, John Fitch, and his stepfather was an executive with the Stutz Motor Company, which introduced him to cars and racing at an early age.

In 1939, he travelled to Europe and saw the last car race at Brooklands before the outbreak of World War II. During the war he flew fighter planes for the Allies, including the A-20 Havoc and the P-51 Mustang, becoming one of the only pilots to shoot down the deadly Messerschmidt ME 262 Jet Fighter.

When John returned to the U.S., he was among the many young pilots who'd developed the need for speed during the war and turned to auto racing. But unlike many of his contemporaries, Fitch was good. So good, in fact, that he caught the eye of Briggs Cunningham, the wealthy racing enthusiast who encouraged Fitch to enter and win the 1951 Grand Prix of Argentina, in a car John prepared himself. This win clinched the support of Cunningham, who accepted him onto his racing team, for which John scored a number of impressive victories in the early '50s, at then-fledgling road courses like Elkhart Lake and Watkins Glen. But Cunningham had bigger plans: His goal was to win Le Mans, the world's most demanding endurance race, with an American car and driver, and Fitch was to play a leading role in that quest. In 1952, he came close to making Cunningham's dream come true. After setting fastest lap in his C-4R roadster, he was forced to retire late in the race because of ‘bad fuel.’

This event gave John a chance at something bigger. John convinced Mercedes team chief engineer Rudi Uhlenhaut to allow him to take several Mercedes 300 SLs to the upcoming Carrera Panamericana, a race that wasn't even on Neubauer's radar. His performance during the race secured him a spot on the Mercedes team, driving with the likes of Juan Manuel Faigio and Stirling Moss. John proceeded to compete successfully in many notable races for these teams, including several seasons of both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and 12 Hours of Sebring, and other races like the Mille Miglia in 1953 and 1955, and the RAC Tourists Trophy in 1955, as well as the ’53 and ’55 Seasons of Formula One.

But John’s racing career didn't end there, because at the end of 1955, Chevrolet's Chief Engineer, Ed Cole suggested that he help develop the Corvette into a world-class race car and manage a team of Corvettes he planned to enter at Sebring, just six weeks away. Many thought that it would be impossible to make the slow, overweight production two-seaters competitive in such a short amount of time, but in typical fashion, John rose to the occasion. Four cars were entered in two different classes but against overwhelming odds, the team won both classes, earning them the team prize and setting the foundation for the Corvette Racing Team that still performs to this day.

John Fitch at the Italian Grand Prix

John Fitch racing at Monza in the Italian
Grand Prix in 1955

After a horrific accident during Le Mans, that led to the death of his team mate Pierre Levegh, as well as over 80 spectators, John devoted a great deal of effort to the task of increasing the safety of motorsports and driving in general, resulting in the foundation of his company, Impact Attenuation Inc. He became a pioneer in improving race car and street driving safety, and went on to make several racing and highway safety innovations, most notable including the Fitch Barrier System, those yellow barrels you see everywhere on the highway. In typical fashion, John insisted on testing the system himself, and since first being introduced in the late 1960s, it is estimated that they have saved as many as 17,000 lives. John also personally designed five different cars during his life, including the Chevrolet Corvair Sprint and the Fitch Pheonix, a Corvair-based two-seat sports car resembling a Corvette.

John retired from racing in 1964 to his home in Connecticut, where he lived with his wife Elizabeth and their three sons, John, Christopher (Kip) and Stephen. John continued to drive in vintage racing events, particularly at Lime Rock Park, and even returned to racing at 87 years of age, trying to set a land speed record in a 50-year-old Mercedes-Benz 300 SL owned by Bob Sirna at the Bonneville Salt Flats. 

John was the definition of an Auto Enthusiast and I was Lucky enough to spend time with him, both professionally and as friends. Unfortunately we lost this shining star to Cancer in 2012, but his spirit will live on in the hearts and memories of those who new him and followed his career with fondness. On numerous occasions he displayed his great admiration of Cars and Motorsports and always maintained a jubilant attitude with family and friends, and towards life in general. I am sure that he influenced many people who looked up to him and I will always remember him fondly.

Adieu John,

Jacques Vaucher
l’art de l’automobile

Make sure to head to our site at or check out a newly acquired collection from John's personal Library

Monday, February 26, 2018


Come checkout our latest newsletter! This month it details how we are launching our new website and provide our customers with the most up to date online experience.

Read about it in our latest issue:

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Unique & genuine automotive gifts at

Unique & genuine automotive gifts at

Santa Claus is on his way to l'art et l'automobile gallery to pick up your presents, and we have plenty of stocks!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Congratulations to Porsche for winning the 2017 FIA Endurance Championship!

Bravo Porsche!

Congratulations to Porsche for winning the 2017 FIA Endurance Championship with the 919 driven by Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber!

It is the 15th Endurance Championship won by the Stuttgart based manufacturer since 1969.

If you are a Porsche fan, at arteauto we offer a good representation of the history of the marque with many items to decorate your museum, garage, office or man's cave, and help you build your library.

We hope that in all the historical Porsche items we have listed on our website, you will find something you would like to own.

Keep your four wheels on the ground!


Jacques Vaucher

For more information you can reach Jacques at (830) 864-5040

Remember for all other automotive memorabilia you can browse our store site as we have many more items in our gallery. Do not hesitate to contact us if you are looking for something in particular.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Great US F1 race 2017

The 2017 US Grand Prix in Austin was a great success. Great weather, great crowd, good passing and a few new faces. It is hard to stop Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes but Ferrari and Red Bull put on a great show and tried their hardest.

On Friday night the Ferrari Club of America South Central Chapter organized their 2nd annual dinner  at the beautiful Austin Country Club in honor of the F1 race.

L'art et l'automobile gallery was honored to be invited at the reception to put on an art and memorabilia show dedicated to Ferrari. We had a special room we transformed into a gallery and the show was well received and successful. The event was even better than last year, with close to 300 enthusiasts in attendance, most of them belonging to Ferrari Clubs from around the country and the world, along with a few special guests.

A big Thank You to the FCA for having us there.

You can visit to see some of our Ferrari offerings.

All the best,

Jacques Vaucher

A white Ferrari 458 Speciale A ('Aperta', which is Italian for 'open') and a red F40

Free Wheelin' bronze sculpture by Stanley Wanlass, showing a lady and a her dog driving a beautiful Alfa Romeo 2.9

Various Ferrari paintings, prints and posters

Left is a Ferrari 488 GTE Risi Competizione (plus two Dinos in the background, a 246 GT and a 308 GT4), and the 458 Aperta to the right

 Ferrari 275 GTS (with matching lady) and a 250 LM

Various Ferrari prints and posters

More Ferrari prints, posters, brochures and a sculpture

La Ferrari (left) and the new silver Ferrari F12 TDF

The new Ferrari F12 TDF again

Ferrari 275 GTB bronze sculpture by Vincenzo Tabacco and the 1979 World Championship Team painting by Chuck Queener

Ferrari 250 TR nose sculpture by Dennis Hoyt and a red FCA trophy