Manly Men of the Motoring World

Posted: January 12, 2011 in cars, life, manliness, sports

Rather you drive a Fusion to and from work, have spent countless man hours in the garage turning wrenches on your own beater Civic, or own a 430 Modena you undoubtedly have heard of these men, or at least their contributions to the world of automobiles or even the world in general. Listed here in no particular order are seven men that have forever stamped their respective marks on society to be seen and felt by billions the world over even today. Of course I could sit here and list hundreds of men whom people in Japan wouldn’t much know or care about and the same goes for Europe and America. I have instead opted to be far more broad in naming these few brilliant bastards. These seven names alone are so engrained your everyday life that they are, in some cases, hardly noticed.


112_0808_10z enzo_ferrari portrait

Enzo Ferrari led anything but a trite 90 years. From WWI service in the Italian 3rd Alpine Artillery Division and loss of his immediate family during the Italian flu pandemic to the founding of Scuderia Ferrari and his continued pursuit of racing dominance his life was hardly a common experience. It has been maintained by many that Ferrari, by his own admission, purposefully overcharged for his cars solely to perpetuate his obsession with racing. His entire life, post war, can be traced back to that obsession. Racing was Ferrari and for many of his days Ferrari was racing. Citing many issues with Alfa Romeo in the 30s Enzo eventually left the company to, pursue his own ventures. During WWII his small parts company was relegated to war production, however following the war he quickly disrobed himself of the fascist cloak bestowed upon him by that relegation. In 1947 Enzo founded the manufacturing company we know and love today, the one baring his own name, Ferrari. The famous Prancing Horse badge that had been emblazoned on the fuselage of top Italian fighter pilot Francesco Baracca during WWI, given to Ferrari by Baracca’s mother, would now be proudly placed on the hood of his automobiles. The Ferrari name is now known the world over for opulence, speed, power, and elegance. Scuderia Ferrari became infinitely more successful since the founding of the Ferrari manufacturing company and has won in Formula 1 racing 16 Constructor’s Championships and 15 Driver’s Championships. Enzo Ferrari also indirectly contributed to the creation of, arguably, the greatest American racing car of all time in the Ford GT40. When financial woes hit in the early 60s, Enzo offered to sell Ferrari to Ford for $18 Million in 1963 (approx. $124,779,170 today) but withdrew the offer late. This sparked the desire within Henry Ford II to beat Ferrari at le Mans, a feat accomplished 4 straight years that decade with the Ford GT40. Racing is still as big a part of the company Ferrari as it ever was for the man himself. Some 14 years after his 1988 death his full name was mated to the Enzo Ferrari, a car designed for the company’s 55th anniversary.

Manliness Resume

  • Armed service is a manly undertaking. In WWI he helped defend his homeland in the Alps despite being underequipped and understaffed.
  • Rose to greatness as a “self taught” man.
  • Helped drive auto racing to new heights as a driver, manufacturer, and as an owner.
  • Designed some of the most beautiful and awe inspiring machines to ever grace the roads of the world.  A tradition his company has continued after his death.
  • A man of great self motivation and competitive drive.
  • Inducted to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1994.
  • Look at that quote. It’s like he wrote the mantra for American muscle cars!



Carroll Shelby could be used to define Americana in ways. Born in rural east Texas with heart problems that plagued him in to post-pubescence  in during the roaring twenties and coming of age during the great depression, Shelby undoubtedly knows the value of hard work. In 1940 he enlisted in the US Army Air Corps (precursor to the US Air Force) and served in WWII as a flight instructor and as a test pilot. From his Willys in high school to testing out P51 mustangs to racing for Aston Martin and Maserati to building iconic Mustangs of his own Carroll Shelby has led a dream life for any gear(petrol)head. Carroll Shelby has helped produce many of America’s greatest contributions to the world of motoring. With a hand in making the Ford GT40, Shelby GT500, Dodge Viper, and the 427 Shelby Cobra he has indeed set himself apart from the herd in the world of tuning. He brought the AC Motors roadster over from Britain and made it an American Icon by stuffing a “massive engine in a tiny, lightweight car”. That very ideal has been the modus operandi for super car manufacturers and tuners alike ever since. The man is not only a legend in the American automotive world but the world over. Stuffing a 7.0L V8 into a car that weighed in at 2,300 lbs. was unheard of before the 427 Cobra. Shelby is the only man on this list still alive today and while rapidly approaching 88 years of age he is still very much hands on with projects like the Ford Shelby Concept car and the Donzi Shelby 22GT speedboat. His iconic black cowboy hat is as recognizable as his trademark signature and smile. Carroll Shelby has made contributions to the racing world that have reverberated directly to the streets. With movies like Gone and 60 Seconds (and the eventual remake) his designs like “Eleanor” will live on forever, long after he passes into that special corner of heaven where they keep the holy versions Laguna Seca, le Mans, Silverstone, and the Nürburgring.

Manliness Resume

  • Served in the US Army Air Corps during WWII.
  • Helped build American cars for Ford to beat Ferrari on the world stage.
  • Legendary tuner and hot rod enthusiast.
  • Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1991.



Karl Benz gave us the automobile as we know it today. Was it the first mechanically powered means of personal transportation? Of course not. Was it the first practical means of personal transportation? Nope. Was it safe? Read the quote above. What made it better than Cugnot’s steam powered automobile in 1769 [Ed. note: Aside from Cugnot being french and crashing the first ever automobile. That’s right the first ever car crash was caused by a frenchmam.] or Richard Trevithick’s steam powered carriage in 1806 or any other numerous attempt as the modern automobile before it? Really, not much. After all there were electric cars well before the first gas powered vehicles hit the roadways. Daimler and Maybach were unknowingly working on very similar designs at the same time as Benz. In all honesty the one thing that sets his machine apart from theirs and puts Benz on the list and not Gottlieb Daimler is the simple fact that he got to the patent office first in 1886. Benz secured patents on the engine and the processes to make the internal combustion engine for his Motorwagen before the others could and thus he wins. Benz’ Motorwagen wasn’t perfect at first but by 1888 Karl Benz become the first man to design, build, and, perhaps most importantly, make an automobile commercially available to the public. the Motorwagen was a success and his business grew and grew as a result. Benz’ automobile was a novelty of sorts, a toy for the wealthy if you will. Eventually investors saw the need for an “affordable” car and Benz’ would consequently be credited with the creation of the worlds first production vehicle in the Benz Velo. He went on to create the first truck which would later be modified into the world’s first bus. Benz’ primary competition came from Daimler’s company, DMG, whom had a brilliant engineer name Emil Jellinik. Jellinik designed the engine for the Mercedes-35hp, named after Jellinik’s daughter, and Wilhelm Maybach built it before resigning from DMG. The two companies would eventually form the luxury and sports car manufacturing giant Mercedes-Benz. The rest, as they say, is history.

Manliness Resume

  • Found what he was passionate about and best at and put everything he had into it. You have to respect that.
  • Created the Boxer style engine that is still used to this day by companies like Porsche and Subaru.
  • His 1909 Blitzen Benz held the land speed record for 10 years.
  • Married a woman who herself was a pioneer in the automotive world, Bertha Benz. The man knew how to pick a bride.



Ferruccio Lamborghini is proof that you don’t have to be what your parents are. He was born to grape farmers in Italy, a respected enterprise but far removed from his own. Or is it? When you hear the name Lamborghini, like most, you probably think of a raging bull breeds like Diablo, Countach, or Gallardo but that’s just the end of the story. Ferruccio began life on a farm and his tinkering didn’t start on Alfa Romeos like Enzo or Euro roadsters like Shelby but with what was around him, farming equipment. Unlike Enzo Ferrari, Lamborghini had a formal education but like his eventual rival he also served in the Italian military. Lamborghini was drafted into the Royal Italian Air Force in WWII where he became the supervisor of vehicle maintenance, but was captured by the British in ‘45 and held prisoner for a year. When he returned home to his wife, who died soon after in ‘47, he opened his first garage. He spent free moments much like the import scene guys in America do today, in his garage turning wrenches on his own car. he eventually modified his little Fiat enough to enter into the Mille Miglia but crashed out and gave up on racing. After building a new tractor for his father out of spare parts friends asked him to build one for them and so forth and so on. Eventually Lamborghini Trattori was born. The tractor business did extremely well and allowed Ferruccio to buy the expensive sports cars he coveted in his youth. Alfas, Lancias, Mercedes, Maseratis, and even Ferraris found there way into his personal collection. He wasn’t satisfied though. His Ferraris were too noisy and uncomfortable for a road car and required service too often and the Maseratis were beautiful but felt heavy and “didn’t go very fast”. After repeated repairs on his Ferraris clutches, legend has it, he installed a clutch from one of his tractors in his Ferrari (sounds like something my grandfather would do) and took it to Ferrari himself and told him, “There, I fixed your car.” The quote in his image above is in reference to Ferrari’s handling of that encounter. Lamborghini then went on to make his own cars, proper gran tourismo cars as he would tell you. Plush interior, luxury amenities, lightweight, big power, insanely fast but notoriously hard to control, basically death traps. Thank you, Ferrruccio Lamborghini. Since then his company has produced some of the most overzealous attempts at a supercar, so wild that a new term has been devised to describe them…the hypercar!

Manliness Resume

  • Armed service during WWII as a mechanic, and time spent as a POW.
  • Risen from  the poor to own every car he dreamed of until he realized even they weren’t up to his standards.
  • He “fixed” a Ferrari with his own parts and then TOLD Ferrari that he fixed it. Classic slap in the face.
  • Obsession with bullfighting led him to name several of his hypercars after bull breeds and even his friend a famous Spanish bull breeder.
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