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The Man Who Saved Ferrari

CEO di Montezemolo's moves are starting to pay off

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo wasn't pleased when a popular Italian women's magazine ranked him as one of its top 10 examples of "ideal masculine beauty." Trailing slightly behind Sean Connery and Harrison Ford in a poll of 1,000 Italian women, the 51-year-old chairman and CEO of auto maker Ferrari immediately complained to the magazine's editors. "I am a manager, not a movie star," he says.

Nevertheless, di Montezemolo knows that sex appeal is what Italy's luxury car industry is all about. Elegantly dressed, engaging, and always quick with a broad smile, di Montezemolo has plenty of what the Italians call bella figura, the ability to make a good impression. But beneath the polished image--including the bright red cellular phone with the Ferrari logo and the $5,000 Girard Perregaux wristwatch--is also a shrewd businessman. "Montezemolo is atypical in Italy because he follows through," says Francesco Casolari, director of the Industrial Association of Modena. "In Italy, a lot of people do a lot of talk, but little action. He is a man of action."