Ferrari’s Ongoing Love Affair with Aluminum

Photo by jae park on

There must be something embedded deep in the fertile soil of Italy’s Emilia Romagna region. It’s the only explanation as to why it’s not only the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari, Ferruccio Lamborghini, and Alfieri Maserati, but also where the three men started their careers. And all within a ten-mile radius of one another!

As world-famous as they all were to become though, whenever high-end sports cars are the subject of the conversation, it’s the prancing stallion of Ferrari that immediately springs to mind.

To talk about Ferrari is also to mention yet another son born in Emilia Romagna’s golden triangle, Sergio Scaglietti. This talented Italian quite literally shaped the Ferrari legend using nothing more than a hammer, a sandbag, and a sheet of aluminum.

In 1937, Scaglietti began work in his brother’s modest body shop in Modena. Directly across the road, a start-up racing outfit headed by Enzo Ferrari would compete every Sunday bringing their battle-scarred vehicles home on Monday.

Scaglietti learned to cut, bend, and weld the battered cars back into shape, ready for the next weekend’s starting line. In the years following the war, Enzo’s collaboration with the Scaglietti body shop increased.

Sergio Scaglietti’s inherent talent for shaping metal was beginning to gain him a well-earned reputation. It wasn’t until 1953 though, that his life would really change when a local businessman took his damaged Ferrari into the workshop for repair.  Not only did Scaglietti rebuild almost its entire body, but also, ‘’by following the suggestions my eye made to me’’ he went on to enhance the aerodynamics with subtle profile changes.

Life-Changing Opportunity

On hearing about this, the famously fiery Enzo Ferrari, crossed over the street to see who was responsible for the modifications. He came away impressed and three days later, commissioned Scaglietti to build the bodywork for his latest racer, the 500 Mondial.

The collaboration grew into a mutual respect and resulted in the young panel beater opening his own body shop. Soon afterward, Ferrari gave Scaglietti free rein to design and build the aluminum bodywork around his racing chassis.

Scaglietti was well known for not drawing out his plans, preferring to design with his eyes. His appreciation of aerodynamics, style, and the ability to craft aluminum sheets into curvaceous works of art led him to create some of the worlds most sought after and expensive Ferraris.

Cars such as the Mondial, Monza, Testa Rossa, California Spyder GTO, and GTB all bear his personal touch.

Yet, despite the fame and accolades that followed throughout his 91-year history, Scaglietti never thought of himself as anything other than a humble shaper of metal.

His legacy, creating iconic silhouettes with nothing more than ‘’a hammer and strength,’’ earned him the name Ferrari’s Maestro of Aluminum.  If we were to call Sergio Scaglietti a mere panel beater, it would be like calling Michelangelo a house painter.

The Legend Lives On

The legend of the master fabricator lives on, and despite the push towards carbon fiber, Ferrari is steadfastly loyal to aluminum. The workshop, which bears his name across the doorway, continues to produce handcrafted body sections even now.

For today’s craftsmen, re-creating the standard of work capable of adorning the body of a Ferrari is not an everyday skill. It calls for the soul of an artist, the hand of a sculptor, and the strength of a smith.

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