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The Insane Story Behind Ferrari’s Famed Prancing Horse Logo [Video]

Countesses, airplanes, war heroes: Like an ’86 Testarossa, it’s nothing if not sensational.

The Insane Story Behind Ferrari’s Famed Prancing Horse Logo [Video]
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Ferrari has one of the most recognizable logos in the world, a mark that today would proceed from endless market research and hundreds of iterations dreamed up by some savvy corporate-branding agency. The genesis of Ferrari’s leaping black stallion, though, was distinctly more spontaneous, as this fascinating video from the Italian carmaker reveals:

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According to Ferrari, Papà Enzo took the logo from an image of a red horse painted on the fuselage of Count Francesco Baracca, an ace pilot in the Italian air force and a World War I hero. Apparently, Enzo only ever spoke of the logo’s provenance once. And this is what he had to say:

In ’23, I met Count Enrico Baracca, the hero’s father and then his mother, Countess Paolina, who said to me one day, ‘Ferrari, put my son’s prancing horse on your cars. It will bring you good luck.’ The horse was, and still is, black. And I added the canary-yellow background, which is the color of Modena [Enzo’s birthplace].

What the film leaves out–and what Wikipedia filled in for us–is that Francesco Baracca died in action, possibly after his airplane got shot by ground troops and crashed in a fiery mess. The reason Ferrari’s horse is black, not red, is because it was meant to be a symbol of mourning for the fallen pilot. It’s a touching detail, but one that the big PR machine of modern-day Ferrari chose to omit. Guess they don’t want anyone to hear Ferrari and think “death by burning vehicle.”

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About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D

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