Role in Ferrari History: Last of the great all-around engineers
Mauro Forghieri was born in Modena in 1935, the son of Reclus Forghieri. Reclus was an outstanding toolmaker who worked with Alfa Romeo and Enzo Ferrari prior to World War II. He headed Ferrari’s machine department after the war.
Mauro attended the University of Bologna and graduated in 1959 with a degree in engineering. He was eyeing a move to California, hoping to work in aircraft manufacturing and engineering with a firm such as Northrop when Enzo Ferrari called and offered a job. Forghieri accepted and began working for the company in 1960. He started in the engine department, performing calculations on the 1.5-liter engines and acting as liaison between chief engineer Carlo Chiti and the engine testing room.
In fall 1961, Forghieri suddenly found himself in the spotlight when Ferrari promoted him to chief engineer following the infamous Purge.
“There was no way I could have imagined that happening,” Forghieri said about the mass firing that led to his promotion. “I was one of the few engineers remaining, so The Old Man offered me to take care of the racing. He made it very clear he was behind me one hundred percent.” That gave the green-but-ambitious 20-something engineer the confidence he needed.
Forghieri became one of Ferrari’s greatest engineers, the last of a breed that could design an entire car, rather than just a section or component. His résumé included many of the all-time greats, from final development work on the 250 GTO to masterminding Ferrari’s midengine movement with the 250 P, 275 P, 330 P, 250 LM, and 330 P3, among others.
He remained at the forefront of the company’s F1 efforts, and was involved in a number of world champions. The Dino 158 and 512 from 1964 were his, as was the innovative 312 T series that won four F1 constructors and three driver’s titles in the second half of the 1970s. He then successfully guided Ferrari during the early years of the F1 Turbo era, his 126 C2 and C3 winning two constructors championships in the early 1980s.
Forghieri remained with Ferrari until 1987, then joined Lamborghini’s fledgling competition department. He stayed for several years before forming his own firm, Oral Engineering.