Can you imagine driving a 1935 Alfa Romeo 208 mph on a public highway? Or how about a limited edition Maserati that was once owned by Evita Peron? These are just two of the remarkable cars on display at the stunning new Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena, Italy, which opened on March 10. The museum is adjacent to the boyhood home and workshop of Enzo Ferrari, the legendary driver and founder of Ferrari, and is located in a striking, bonnet shaped building that took 8 years and more than $20 million to build.
The museum tells the story of Ferrari’s life and how it fits into the greater context of the automotive history of the Modena region, known as The Motor Valley, home to Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Ducati and other luxury car manufacturers. Ferrari was a racecar driver before he founded the company that would become Ferrari and the museum shows some of the 1930′s era Alfa Romeo’s he raced in as a young man.
The exhibits on Ferrari’s life are interesting but the museum’s real attraction is the collection of more than two dozen classic cars, which come from private collections and will be rotated every six months or so. One of my favorites was the aforementioned 1935 Alfa Romeo Bimotore, a racecar that was designed with two engines. The drivers realized that the car’s two-engine design made it impossible to handle on a racetrack, so they took it out on a public highway near Florence and it set a record by topping 208 mph. Apparently there were no police wielding radar guns in those days.
But if I could take one of these cars home with me it would surely be the 1948 Maserati A6 1500. Only 61 of these beauties were made and vehicle #57 was reportedly owned by Evita Peron. I asked the museum curators what this and the other cars were worth and they could only guestimate that most were worth well over $1 million.
These days, owners of Ferraris and other luxury vehicles are being targeted by the Italian tax authorities for audits, so for those who love these cars but don’t want the scrutiny, this museum is a great place to dream.
If you go: The museum is a five-ten minute walk from Modena’s train station. Modena itself is a beautiful small city but you can also stay in Parma and visit Modena as a very easy day trip. The train ride is only 30 minutes and tickets can be had for about 5 euros each way. If you want to see some modern Ferraris, go to the older Ferrari museum in nearby Maranello. You can buy a joint ticket for both museums at either location.