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It was on 12th March 1947 that Enzo Ferrari headed out of his modest factory and onto to the Via Abertone Inferiore in his 125 S. With a smile on his face as wide as the gates he had just driven through; he began testing the car’s V12 around the glorious mountainous roads of Maranello Italy. For the less observant it would have been viewed as just one man in his car, however as history has shown it was so much more than that. This man had a dream in his head, true passion in his heart and the very first Ferrari under foot.

Seventy years later, on 12th March 2017; over eighty Ferrari’s drove through a symbolic gate in Taupo, New Zealand and headed for the idyllic Unesco World Heritage site Chateau Tongariro in Tongariro National Park. This spectacular cavalcade was to be an integral part of an amazing 70th Anniversary weekend made even more so because New Zealand had been chosen to host the very first of the 60 celebratory global events – so no pressure then!

The weekend began with an exclusive invite to the New Zealand Ferrari Owners Club Dinner. Now in its 30th year, this group of over 260 Ferraristi truly embody the heart, spirit, and soul of having a Ferrari in the family. Although (as with many families) they are an eclectic group of people with a wide range ages, backgrounds and vocations, they all share one common passion, Ferrari. As any Ferrarista will tell you, owning one is much more than a car, it’s a lifestyle, a state of mind, a certain type of attitude – it’s having a slice of Enzo Ferrari’s ‘dream factory’ cake.

The atmosphere in the room was electric and with just cause, they had a lot to celebrate. A New President, a lifelong member award, the Continental Cars founder Tim Bailey Cup was presented (something that hadn’t been done for several years) and of course the 70th Anniversary of the brand itself.

Ferrari Australasia’s CEO Herbert Appleroth opened his address to the club with ‘Buona sera e tutti’ (good evening everyone) and quickly proclaimed his proclivity to being Italian. In his own words, New Zealand is a very important market for Ferrari, as the first car delivered here was the Dino (named after Enzo’s son) way back in 1973 and it’s this sense of ‘family’ that has remained constant throughout the past nigh on five decades. With well over 500 Ferrari’s in New Zealand the love of the Cavallino Rampante is well; rampant but it was the camaraderie and sense of kinship within the room that night (and for the whole weekend for that matter) that really stood out. From fledglings that had literally joined the club that week to seasoned and founding members; they all happily shared their pride of ownership and it was hard not to be swept up in the emotion, particularly as we tipped our caps to the loss of family member John Surtees.

The next morning I picked up the keys to a California T Handling Speciale and took my place in the jaw-dropping parade of Ferrari’s on the scenic and sometimes spirited drive from Taupo to the Chateau. The route had us hug the edge of the great lake and travel south to Motuoapa before congregating in a predetermined ‘rest stop’ in Turangi.

Over 80 Ferrari’s in a line; bumper to bumper is (unfortunately) something you don’t get to see every day but I am telling you now, it’s very impressive. From my favorite 308 GTS to the 488 Spider, from the GT4 to the Testarossa and in colours ranging from various shades of red to blue and yellow the display was sensational. Aside from the more recognisable object dÁrt, the ‘rally’ featured some particularly eye-catching gems; like a very prominent replica 330 P4 and a 1962 California that actually starred in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

With everyone present and correct, the visually stunning parade headed off towards the mountain. The melody of engine notes from the Ferrari’s V8’s and V12’s echoed off the central North Island landscape in salivating fashion and when I added in the rich scent of leather emanating from the California T’s seat I was in, it was a feast for literally ALL my senses.

We arrived at the Chateau and filled the surrounding car park in a sea of prancing horse badged vehicles, making it probably the most stunning looking car park in NZ. However, with the weather taking a turn towards the foreboding; we headed for the sanctuary of the Chateau’s Ruapehu lounge and then down to the Tongariro room below. The team at Continental Cars Ferrari had themed the room in Ferrari Rosso and we were greeted at the door with sparkling cocktail complete with a sweet maraschino cherry inside.

Again Herbert Appleroth took centre stage and delivered an informative and heartfelt speech which included details of the ‘Driven by Emotion’ anniversary (a celebration throughout 2017 that pays homage to the Cavallino Rampante history, culminating in Maranello early September). He underlined what most people in the room already knew, that a Ferrari should be engaging and immensely satisfying to drive at every moment and that every Ferrari delivers attention to detail, technical innovation and exclusivity. ‘Ferrari is recognised all over the world as an iconic symbol of made in Italy concept, of quality and of beauty that surprises and delights with every new creation from Maranello’.

We were soon to have the privilege of being shown one of these new creations the LaFerrari Aperta but not before having an exclusive ‘first in the world’ viewing of the official and incredibly uplifting anniversary video followed by a ceremonial cutting of the cake. Herbert gave thanks to the family, the Ferrari family, and we charged and raised our glasses in a fitting tribute to the 70th year anniversary

Although the heavens opened up, nothing dampened the spirits of the crowd or indeed their anticipation of seeing the LaFerrari Aperta for its first public unveiling outside of a car show. We made our way out to the marquee on the grounds of the Chateau. Inside, on stage and under bright red silk; Ferrari’s new mantle patiently waited. Without further ado, and to vigorous applause the sheet was pulled back and the Aperta was unveiled.

For the couple of you out there that don’t know – the LaFerrari Aperta is the ‘spider’ version of the highly acclaimed LaFerrari supercar. From the looks department, she has a sinister beauty about her, gloriously designed but with more than a hint of sting in her tail. From a performance point of view, it’s a true combination of brains and brawn, with hybrid power the 6.3litre V12 engine works with an electric motor to produce 949HP (708kW) and a shade under 900Nm. 0-100 is in under 3 seconds and she has a top speed of 350kph, These facts and figures may seem a far cry from the 118HP and 210kph top speed from the V12 in the original 125 S but the dreams and aspirations remain as true today as they did back in 1947, which is why The LaFerrari Aperta will be present at each stage being the symbol of the 70th anniversary.

With a sumptuous buffet lunch in the expansive, chandelier filled main restaurant and a  group photo on the grand staircase proceedings were almost at a close but not before one last gem. To help commemorate such an epic event, Continental Cars Ferrari had produced a collectors edition lithograph for everyone, it features both the 125 S and the LaFerrari Aperta and will undoubtedly be a highly treasured keepsake.

There are certain privileges surrounding being the first country in the world to see the sunrise. New Zealand was first to see the new Millennium and apparently the other one too for that matter, we are the first to see the fireworks celebrate the new year but now New Zealand can lay claim another world first, the first country to celebrate the ‘Driven by Emotion’ 70th anniversary of Ferrari – for despite (or in spite) of the atrocious weather conditions and with the whole Ferrari world watching, Continental Cars Ferrari managed to put together a phenomenal Event – Grazie a tutti.

“If you can dream it, you can do it” Enzo Ferrari

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