In the early years, the lifeblood of Ferrari was competition. Road-going versions of the competition sports cars were built and sold to support Ferrari's racing effort. Ferrari's competition teeth were cut along with their continuous progress of the small-displacement V12, engineered by Gioachino Colombo, the first of which was deployed in 1947 as the 125S. At 1,500 cc the power produced was considered extraordinary for its day and size, and quickly cemented Ferrari's reputation for technical sophistication. A progression of even larger engines were developed based on this original design, with many types attaining impressive racing victories, notably the 166MM and 212 Export.
A larger-displacement, more powerful version of the 212 Export competition model was introduced in 1952, christened the 225 "Sport", following the long time Ferrari practice of naming their models consistent with the displacement of a single cylinder. In the case of the 225S, with its 12 cylinders, that translated to 2.7 litres overall.
All Ferraris of the early era were coachbuilt by various design houses and none were more distinctive than those styled by Vignale. Virtually no two Vignale-bodied Ferraris are precisely alike. Enzo Ferrari and Alfredo Vignale shared a consuming passion for their work, each insisting upon final approval of even the most seemingly insignificant details. Among the individual designers working at Carrozzeria Vignale was the young stylist Giovanni Michelotti, who was to enjoy a brilliant career and is regarded today as the father of the trademark ovoid "egg crate"-type Ferrari grille that has signified Ferrari DNA for years to come.
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