Well this is some surprising news indeed. The man that has helmed Ferrari for more than two decades, Luca di Montezemolo is stepping down, effective October 13th. Sadly, and despite his age of 67, this doesn’t seem to be a simple retirement; there has been some serious tension in the land of the Italian automobile lately.

Not only is Ferrari struggling in Formula One, but Montezemelo has been butting heads lately with Fiat head Sergio Marchionne. Not only is Marchionne upset with the Formula One disappointment, but he and Montezemelo are at opposite ends of the scale when it comes to the future of Ferrari.

Currently Montezemelo has capped Ferrari’s sales at 7,000 cars per year to bolster and maintain the company’s elite status. Marchionne, on the other hand, wants Ferrari to expand, become even more profitable, and to donate technology and engineering to other brands in the Fiat family with the goal of creating more luxurious models across the range. Marchionne wants the new Fiat/Chrysler to become a true competitor to Volkswagen.

According to a report from Bloomberg, Montezemelo has been quoted as saying that “Ferrari is now American,” going so far as to call it “the end of an era.” I hope he is wrong.

This is most disappointing, as Montezemelo has an astonishing record at Ferrari. Since he took over, company revenue has climbed by 1,000 percent, yearly auto sales have tripled, and after years and years of F1 failure, the Ferrari team secured eight World Constructors’ Championships.

Marchionne is anything but an idiot, but I do feel worried for the Ferrari brand as a whole. Montezemelo has obviously had some incredible success in running this prestigious brand, and it is upsetting to see him so unceremoniously forced out of the company that he helped thrust into such incredible success.

Click past the jump to read more about Luca di Montezemolo’s collaboration with Ferrari.

Why it matters

Luca di Montezemolo Steps Down as President of Ferrari
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With Marchionne at the helm there are certain to be large changes in how Ferrari is managed and run.

Ferrari is more than the most well known and prestigious automotive brand on the planet, it is also one of the most uniquely run. Can you imagine any other brand in the history of the world that could be so bold as to say that they are actively limiting sales, while simultaneously increasing prices to maintain profits? That is move that is beyond bold, but Ferrari has succeeded.

When it comes to the Prancing Horse, this type of superiority is par for the course, and it has propelled the brand into the highest echelon of automotive world.

With Marchionne at the helm there are certain to be large changes in how Ferrari is managed and run. Expect more models, more yearly sales, and even cheaper "accessible" machines to join the lineup. Hell, there may even be an SUV.

This plan has worked wonders for Porsche, but Porsche has always been a very different brand than Ferrari. Porsche has relied on a sharpness in its feel and performance. Ferrari is a brand that persists on legend, passion and exclusivity. What happens when you remove those aspects in the pursuit of more profits?

Luca di Montezemolo

Luca di Montezemolo Steps Down as President of Ferrari Exterior
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His career at Ferrari began in 1973 when he was appointed as Enzo Ferrari's assistant.

Luca di Montezemolo is the youngest child of his family, and a cunning businessman. He has held the held the highest positions of power at Ferrari, Fiat, Confindustria, FIEG, and he founded NTV the Italian company that is Europe’s first private, open-access operator of high-speed trains. He has a masters degree in international commerce law, and he was a professional racing driver that raced for the Lancia HF Squadra Corse rally team. His career at Ferrari began in 1973 when he was appointed as Enzo Ferrari’s assistant. Just one year later in 1974 he became the manager of Scuderia.

He is stepping down from his head position at Ferrari after 23 years.

Source: Additional information via Bloomberg

Christian Moe
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Press Release

“Ferrari will have an important role to play within the FCA Group in the upcoming flotation on Wall Street. This will open up a new and different phase which I feel should be spearheaded by the CEO of the Group.

This is the end of an era and so I have decided to leave my position as Chairman after almost 23 marvellous and unforgettable years in addition to those spent at Enzo Ferrari’s side in the 1970s.

My thanks, first and foremost, to the exceptional Ferrari women and men from the factory, the offices, the race tracks and the markets across the world. They were the real architects of the company’s spectacular growth, its many unforgettable victories and its transformation into one of the world’s strongest brands.

A warm farewell and my thanks also to all of our technical and commercial partners, our dealers across the globe and, most particularly, the clients and collectors whose passion I so wholeheartedly share.

Luca di Montezemolo Steps Down as President of Ferrari Exterior
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But my thoughts go also to our fans who have always supported us with great enthusiasm especially through the Scuderia’s most difficult moments.

Ferrari is the most wonderful company in the world. It has been a great privilege and honour to have been its leader. I devoted all of my enthusiasm and commitment to it over the years. Together with my family, it was, and continues to be, the most important thing in my life.

I wish the shareholders, particularly Piero Ferrari who has always been by my side, and everyone in the Company the many more years of success that Ferrari deserves.”

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