Montezemolo’s magic touch

When Ferrari Chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo officially steps down next month the supercar maker will lose its No. 1 salesman.

During his two decades in Maranello, he was the main reason why Ferrari always sold out its high-margin limited-edition supercars even before they were unveiled to the public.

He did this – and a whole lot more – by enhancing Ferrari’s magical place as the car for those people, regardless of where they live or what they do, who want to reward themselves for having “made it” in life.

Has there ever been a car executive who is a better example of having “made it” than Montezemolo?

Which chairman — past or present — can match his 19 Formula One titles?

Which of those chairman won those titles while also consistently setting new company records for profits?

Many people forget that when he took over Ferrari in 1991 the automaker was bleeding cash. Today it ranks second to Porsche among automakers in operating margin.

Montezemolo’s overwhelming success both on and off the racetrack didn’t prevent me from challenging him from time to time. We often debated over whether Ferrari should add a sports sedan and an SUV. To me, it seemed like a wise choice to help Ferrari better compete against its rivals. Montezemolo’s reply was: “Never.” He was the boss as well as a longtime Ferrari owner. He knew best.

Ferrari’s sister brand Maserati has an SUV in the pipeline so it seems likely, given the track record of incoming Ferrari Chairman Sergio Marchionne, there will be some big changes in Maranello.

Good luck, Luca! You’re sure to have success in your next job. Ferrari would not be the powerhouse it is today without you.