Ferrari Symbol Meaning and History

The Ferrari logo with the prancing horse is easily recognizable around the world. It is a symbol of excellence and quality in car racing. When you see the Ferrari symbol attached to the body of the car, it means that that car embodies power, style, class, and elegance. In this article, I’ll describe the meaning of the Ferrari symbol in-depth and its history.

The famous Ferrari symbol is a black prancing horse on a canary yellow background. Written at the bottom of the logo are the letters S and F. Originally, the prancing horse was the symbol of the legendary hero Count Francesco Baracca in the Italian Air Force. Count Baracca painted a prancing horse on the side of his airplane and was a fighter ace during the First World War. 

Read on to learn more about the meaning of the Ferrari symbol and its history.

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Ferrari Symbol Meaning and History

The Cavallino Rampante, translated in English as prancing horse, is the world-famous symbol of the renowned race car manufacturer, Ferrari. An Italian ace fighter pilot named Count Francesco Baracca originally used this symbol during World War I. The late count painted the symbol on the fuselage of his fighter airplane.

The horse was originally painted red and was enveloped in a white cloud-like background. Enzo Ferrari, the founder and car manufacturer of Ferrari, decided to change the color of the horse to black. The black prancing horse is the current symbol of Ferrari for its racing car division, Scuderia Ferrari. It is similar to the logo decorated in Ferrari road cars.

Originally, Count Baracca painted his prancing horse on the fuselage of his fighter plane. The count was a legendary hero during World War I. According to Enzo Ferrari, he met the parents of Count Baracca in 1923.

Baracca’s mother, Countess Paulina, requested Enzo to put her son’s prancing horse on Enzo’s cars. She assured him that it would bring him good luck. It appears that it did because today, the Ferrari brand is well respected, and its symbol is one of the most recognizable logos in the world. Enzo said he added a yellow background to infuse the logo with the color of the city of Modena. This city was the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari.

It was in 1932 that Enzo Ferrari used this logo in his racing cars. These cars, called the Alfa Romeos, participated in the Grand Prix in Spain. They belong to the Scuderia Ferrari racing team. Then in 1947, Enzo had the logo placed on the 125 S, which was the first car ever to come out of the Maranello car plant.

This time the yellow backdrop was added to the prancing horse. The other elements added were the letters and F. These letters are the initials of Scuderia Ferrari and the birth of the current Ferrari logo. It is generally the same as the logos now placed on all cars manufactured by Ferrari.

What Is the Meaning of the Ferrari Logo?

what does the ferrari symbol mean

The current Ferrari logo shows a black prancing horse on a yellow background with S and letters at the bottom of it. These letters mean Scuderia Ferrari. There are three stripes at the top of the logo. The top stripe is green, the middle is white, and the bottom is red. These colors are the order of colors you can see in the Italian flag.

The Ferrari brand is written inside the symbol and placed at the bottom in one variation of the logo. The original logo has the engraving of the letters S and F at the bottom. But, there is another logo variation that shows a silver prancing horse and a red backdrop with the Ferrari brand written at the bottom of it.

Francesco Baracca, the legendary fighter pilot who painted a prancing horse on his fighter plane, died on June 19, 1918. He was shot down by enemy fire after successfully downing enemy planes with 34 victorious dogfights.

His fighter plane heroics made him a national hero. Baracca painted a prancing horse on his plane because he wanted to symbolize the character of his team, which was part of a horse regiment called Battaglione Aviatori. Baracca was regarded as the best cavalier in his team.

What Is the Meaning of the Name Ferrari?

Enzo Ferrari used his surname in 1939 as a brand name for the cars that he manufactured. He included a logo that was created initially as part of the uniform of the 17th-century army regiment.

Francesco Baracca later used this same logo in World War I fighter planes. Although the brand name Ferrari seems unique in the world, what’s surprising is that it is one of the most common surnames in Italy.

The name came from the Italian word ferraro, which simply means blacksmith. Now you can see why Enzo Ferrari is into car manufacturing. There is also the Latin word ferrum, which means iron. The words blacksmith and iron go hand in hand, right?

Enzo Ferrari’s racing team of Formula 1s is known as Scuderia Ferrari. The word scuderia means stable. Now, you can see the reason why Ferrari used the iconic logo of the Prancing Horse. This particular car racing team is one of the most respected teams in the world, with more than 90 years of car racing history.

What Is the History of the Ferrari Logo?

Now, we come to the history of the Ferrari logo. Enzo Ferrari himself recounted its history.

Enzo Ferrari Meets Countess Paulina Baracca

One day in 1923, Enzo met with the parents of Count Francesco Baracca, a famous fighter plane pilot during World War I and whose plane was painted with a prancing horse. Count Baracca was of noble blood because of his father, Count Enrico Baracca.

At that time, Enzo also met Countess Paulina Baracca, Francesco’s mother. This encounter was Enzo’s first glimpse of the Prancing Horse symbol. He saw the horse painted on the fuselages of the plane of Paulina’s son, Francesco. Also, at that time, Enzo’s cars recently won a race at the Savio track in Ravenna.

Countess Paulina said that she wanted Enzo to use the Prancing Horse symbol on the racing cars that he was making. She predicted that if he used that horse in his racing cars, he’d get the best of luck. Enzo took her advice since all of his racing cars, even his road cars, have the Prancing Horse logos.

However, Enzo was not allowed to use that symbol in his cars for the next eleven years. Finally, when those years were over, Enzo put the first Prancing Horse logo to his Alfa Romeo. The car immediately won the race, and Enzo believed that the countess was right. So, he kept on using the Ferrari symbol up to this day.

Count Francesco Baracca and the Prancing Horse Logo

Going back to Count Francesco Baracca, some historians believe that he was inspired to paint the Prancing Horse symbol on his fighter plane when he saw a similar design on a German fighter plane. The Baracca family was also a wealthy family who maintained a stable of racehorses.

The Ferrari symbol has even a greater significance because of the gallantry and bravery displayed by Count Francesco Baracca in his dogfights during World War I. Unfortunately, he died in battle at a young age.

Count Francesco Baracca led many heroic battles for the Italian Air Force. He was shot down after leading his fighter squadron with 34 successful air missions. His country honored his brave exploits by declaring him a national hero.

The German Connection

In connection with the Prancing Horse, the city of Stuttgart in Germany maintains this element as its symbol. The car manufacturer Porsche, which has a car plant in Stuttgart, also uses a frolicking horse symbol in its logo.

The city’s name, Stuttgart, is also taken from an old German word gestut, meaning stud farm or horse farm. This ancient German word, when translated to Italian, is scuderia. That explains the word Scuderia in Enzo Ferrari’s Formula One racing team Scuderia Ferrari.

Enzo then added a canary yellow background to the logo. He admitted that he added this color to give significance to the city of Modena, which was his birthplace. Then he also added the letters S and F, which are the initials of his Formula One team Scuderia Ferrari.

Ducati and the Prancing Horse Symbol

You’d be surprised to know that the prancing horse symbol is not originally exclusive to Ferrari cars. Ducati, the famous Italian motorcycle maker, also used it in its motorbikes. But at one point in time, Fabio Taglioni, the technical director and chief designer of Ducati, chose not to use it anymore.

Some observers believe that there was a gentleman’s agreement between Enzo and Fabio, allowing Ferrari to use the prancing horse logo exclusively.

Unique Ferrari Logo

Although Enzo used the prancing horse of Baracca, he made some changes to make the horse more unique and distinct. Here are some of their differences:

  • Horse Color – Baracca’s horse was painted red, while Enzo made it black.
  • Logo Background – Baracca’s horse was enveloped in a cloud. That’s understandable because the symbol was on the fuselage of his fighter plane. On the contrary, Ferrari’s horse has a canary yellow background.
  • Direction of the Horse’s Tail – Baracca’s horse had its tail pointed downwards. Enzo’s horse, on the other hand, has its tail pointed upwards.

Observers believe that Enzo chose to paint the horse black as a sign of mourning for the gallant pilot. Baracca’s death was untimely, leaving his parents, relatives, and comrades a painful loss.

Enzo also used the horse because it symbolizes power, sportsmanship, and speed. These three qualities are strongly associated with all Ferrari vehicles. Even if most Ferrari fans do not know its history, they are undoubtedly familiar with the style and performance of these cars.

Some have questioned what the Ferrari horse breed is. Some say it might be a mustang or maybe a Lippizan. However, an email from an executive for Ferrari in Italy said that the horse in the Ferrari logo isn’t a specific breed but is simply a drawing.

What Are the Recent Changes in the Ferrari Logo?

meaning of the ferrari symbol

Enzo Ferrari concentrated on producing race cars. He started his career in car manufacturing as a race driver. Naturally, he just wanted to create a brand of car speedsters. But he later realized that if he really wanted to make big money, he had to manufacture road cars as well.

It takes a large amount of money to produce just one race car alone. And there are not many people and race car drivers in the world who can afford to buy a race car. He also needs a lot of money to fund his Scuderia Ferrari team.

Eventually, Enzo decided to produce road cars that were more affordable on the market. His decision bore good fruit, and he was able to grow his car manufacturing business. It grew rapidly partly because of the reputation that he had already built with his race cars. His road car manufacturing business quickly grew and even became bigger than his race cars.

Now, the corporate logo of Ferrari is generally the same but with some noticeable changes. The current logo no longer has a shield. It was replaced with a yellow rectangle but with the same green, white, and red stripes of the Italian flag.

The Prancing Horse is still the center of attention. But instead of the letters S and F, the logo now has Ferrari written at the bottom. This element distinguishes it from Enzo’s race cars, which still maintain the S and F initials.

Conclusion – Ferrari Symbol: What Does It Mean?

So to recap, what does the Ferrari symbol mean? The famous Ferrari symbol traces back to the frolicking horse, which was the symbol of the legendary hero in the Italian Air Force, Count Francesco Baracca. Enzo Ferrari later tweaked this symbol to make it unique. 

The Prancing Horse in the logo symbolizes power, sportsmanship, and speed, which are all characteristics of Ferrari cars. Ferrari’s logo has a black prancing horse on a canary yellow background with the initials and at the bottom. It also has green, white, and red stripes, which pay homage to the Italian flag.