The Ferrari logo—an all-black stallion rearing up against a bright yellow background—is instantly recognizable all around the world. This Prancing Horse, properly known as the Cavallino Rampante, is usually situated above a stylized rendering of the brand’s name, and beneath a tri-color banner of red, green, and white: the colors of the Italian flag.
The vehicles made by the brand’s racing division, Scuderia Ferrari, bear a slightly different logo which replaces the name “Ferrari” with the letters “S” and “F”. Even so, you can always recognize a Ferrari by the presence of the black stallion on a canary yellow field!
Francesco Baracca was a famously successful Italian pilot in World War I, and he painted a red horse on every plane he ever flew! After his death in battle, his companions-in-arms began to paint these horses in black, as a sign of mourning.
Enzo Ferrari, the brand’s founder, had the opportunity to meet with the Barraca family after winning a race in 1923—and it was Countess Paolina Baracca who suggested that Enzo paint black horses on his vehicles for good luck! The first vehicle to wear the Ferrari logo was the 1932 Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo 8C Monza. (At the time, Scuderia Ferrari was still the racing division of Alfa Romeo; Ferrari wouldn’t begin to make their own road cars until after World War II.)
Regardless, the Ferrari logo’s meaning couldn’t be more clear: the Cavallino Rampante symbolizes fierce passion, courage, and command of a domain that many would have thought unconquerable. For Barraca, that domain was the skies in which he flew; for Ferrari, it was the racetrack on which he competed.
The canary yellow background was inspired by the color of Enzo’s hometown, Modena, and the colors of the Italian flag have appeared on every Maserati logo since that time.
Ferrari, in his own words, was inspired by Barraca. However, there are still some questions as to where Barraca took his own inspiration! In fact, there are two possible origins for Francesco’s use of the prancing horse—and one of these stories can shed some light on why the Porsche and Ferrari logos appear to have so much in common:
According to the Museo del Marchio Italiano, the Prancing Horse may have even deeper roots in Italy’s past. A design that resembles the Ferrari logo appeared on the banners of the Royal Piedmont Regiment of the Duke of Savoy, Vittorio Amadeo II, all the way back in 1692! At the time, the Duchy of Savoy was part of the Grand Alliance that fought the Nine Years’ War against France—at that time, one of the most powerful and aggressive nations in Europe.
Anyone who compares Ferrari vs. Porsche logos will recognize their similarities. Both brands decorate their vehicles with black stallions that appear to rear up on their hind legs—and Porsche has taken their logo directly from the crest of Stuttgart, Germany, the brand’s hometown. As a result, some have speculated that Barraca appropriated the image of the red horse after shooting down a pilot from Stuttgart.
Neither Enzo nor the brand has ever moved to confirm such a story, and it’s true that the horses in these logos have slightly different postures—suggesting unique origins. Even so, those who’ve followed the history of fierce competition between Porsche and Ferrari may find something to appreciate in the narrative.
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