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12 Sep 2017 | Text by Desmond Chan, Photos by Low Fai Ming

We speak to Dieter Knechtel, Chief Executive Officer Ferrari Far East and Middle East Hub, to talk about the brand's illustrious past and look to the future.

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Ferrari is a brand that is ubiquitous with fast, exotic, beautiful and desirable sports cars. The brand has a highly-celebrated and accolade-filled 70 year history, and has become the preeminent name in the industry when it comes to brand desirability and exclusivity. On the heels of the brand's recent 70th anniversary celebration here in Singapore, we took some time to speak to Mr. Dieter Knechtel, Chief Executive Officer Ferrari Far East and Middle East Hub, to talk about the brand's past, as well as to envision its future.

Past - Genesis, Identity and Quality

The essential quality and identity of Ferrari is something the brand constantly seeks to inject into everything that it does
To understand the Ferrari brand, it's imperative to explore its very genesis. The first decades of Ferrari were marked by the great personality of Enzo Ferrari himself. As Dieter explains, the father of the company brought all his knowledge, passion and racing experience into Ferrari. Being the pinnacle of his career, he developed his own brand, a way of fulfilling his own dream of producing his own cars, deemed to be the best and fastest cars on the track.

The very first Ferrari-badged car, the 125 Sport, carried all the identifying hallmarks of the Ferrari brand - distinctive and head-turning aesthetics, a 12-cylinder Naturally Aspirated (NA) engine, a car developed for both the road and the track. It was creative, innovative and something unexpected.

Till today, Enzo Ferrari is like a myth, a person who has personally branded Ferrari as well as one could. "He was a one-of-a-kind personality and talent, a very gifted automobile engineer and visionary," says Dieter.  And it's apparent that his fierce spirit lingers till today. Enzo Ferrari’s passion and unceasing pursuit of excellence form the foundations and informs the success of Ferrari. As Dieter tells us, the concept and basis of what Ferrari does today hasn't fundamentally changed much over 70 years.  

However, there are some aspects of the brand's identity that may have origins that would surprise you. For example, the colour red may be intrinsically linked to the Ferrari brand, but in fact, this choice of colour wasn't made by Enzo Ferrari initially. Instead, it was the colour designated for all Italian race cars. And, the famous prancing horse logo came from a World War II pilot, Francesco Baracca, who was tragically shot down during battle. Enzo Ferrari, at the urging of Baracca's mother, adopted the prancing horse logo, atop a deep yellow shield (yellow being the colour of Modena).  

More than just a fast car, owning a Ferrari is about buying into the brand, the passion and the lifestyle, something that affords the owner great pride and pleasure
As Ferrari celebrates its 70th anniversary, it's no coincidence that the LaFerrari Aperta has been chosen as the celebration car. According to Dieter, this car contains all this elements of the essential Ferrari DNA, in terms of colour, design and outstanding product composition. "It is everything about Ferrari you can find in the car," he says. "It's at the top end of what one would expect from a road-going car, including all kinds of technology derived from Formula One, and I think in terms of design it's one of a kind. We find a lot of the spirit of Ferrari in this car, and the lineage is clear to see."

Of course, owning a Ferrari is much more than just owning a sports car. According to Mr. Dieter, customers are buying into a brand, an investment and a lifestyle. "Traditionally a Ferrari customer is someone who enjoys life, who has achieved a lot in life and want to reward himself," he says. "I believe everyone understands that we what we do is something consistent over time. This gives them peace of mind, knowing they have made a reasonable investment. Every single Ferrari is a unique piece that retains its value over time. Buying a Ferrari is a big decision and an important moment for people, and it's our responsibility to keep them happy for many years." 

But can potential customers have everything they want? Well, not always. Take for example the car's colour. According to Dieter, there are certainly colours that aren't part of the standard program and not offered in the car configuration (there is a separate tailor-made program that allows a joint approach between Ferrari and the customer to find suitable combinations of equipment and colours). "We have very strong recommendations regarding colour choices. At the end of the day, we are also a little bit responsible for how the cars look like. We honour the individual taste of every customer, but at the same time a Ferrari should also look like a Ferrari on the street," Dieter adds.

Ultimately, it's this sense of quality, passion and kinship that brings Ferrari owners together. "There's a feeling of belonging and community. In Singapore, once you drop an idea, people are enthusiastic about it," says Dieter. "A Ferrari is something to have that you look at with pride and pleasure."
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