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20 Fascinating Details Concerning the Iconic Ferrari F40

20 Fascinating Details Concerning the Iconic Ferrari F40

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It was the definitive poster car for any Eighties-born gearhead, and the magnificent Ferrari F40 still belongs on all the walls. Created in 1987 as a successor to the 288 GTO, the sleek mid-engined berlinetta celebrated Ferrari’s 40th anniversary. It was also the last vehicle to be personally launched by il Commendatore, Enzo Ferrari himself. Here are 20 interesting facts and stats about one of Maranello’s finest, rawest, and most visceral Prancing Horses. 

Ferrari wanted to build something capable of eviscerating the Porsche 959

In 1984, Ferrari-factory engineers had locked their sights on a target in the FIA Group B group, the Porsche 959. The Germans had built the world’s fasted street-legal production car (it hit 197 mph), and Ferrari had, uh, noticed. But when the FIA eliminated Group B in 1986, Enzo was left with five 288 GTO Evoluzione development cars and nowhere to race them. He (thankfully) decided to blow out the production and make it a road-legal machine.

Enzo Ferrari issued a very direct order to the team behind the F40

When ultimately presenting the F40 to the world, Enzo succinctly told the assembled crowd of journalists: “I expressed my wish to the engineers—build a car to be the best in the world. And now the car is here.” 

The Ferrari F40 and Porsche 959 about to square off.

Photo by FernandoV/Shutterstock.

The twin-turbocharged V-8 generates 471 hp

The mill behind the driver’s head is a 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged and intercooled V-8. It began as a 288 GTO engine, but enlargement and other tweaks saw the version that was finally deposited in F40’s bay packing 471 hp and 426 ft lbs of torque. The F40 offered an impressive zero to 60 mph time of 4.2 seconds. 

Many F40s had slightly different gearing and torque curves

And power output. Some manufacturing hiccups saw different—though not dramatically so—stats when various F40 examples were dynoed. Until 1990, the F40 was built without a catalytic converter, at which point the U.S. required the inclusion of the device for emissions purposes. 

Only 400 F40s were originally planned to be built

When debuted, Ferrari pledged a limited production run of 400 units. The price per each rolling work of art? $400,000, which was about five times the price of the preceding 288 GTO. (Today, that would be about $1,100,000, if the 1987 price was adjusted for inflation.) 

However, the clamoring demand was too hard to ignore and more were manufactured

Understandably, far more than 400 clients wanted an F40, so after that self-imposed production cap was reached, Ferrari just kept building units. When all was said and done, 1,315 F40s were made, 213 of which reached the United States.

The Ferrari F40.

One of 1,315 examples of the F40 built.

Photo by FernandoV/Shutterstock.

Sadly, one F40 recently burned to the ground in Europe

In February 2020, plenty of phones captured the tragic sight of one F40 completely engulfed in flames in Monaco. Despite some heroic efforts with garden hoses, the F40 burned to a crisp. 

It wasn’t the only F40 lost to flames

In 2016, an F40 in the United Kingdom was seen burnt to a crisp, this one reportedly having just been restored, which is some rotten luck, for both the owner and their insurance company.

What’s a Ferrari F40 worth today? 

About $1.5 million, although the price fluctuates. Back in 1990, Formula 1 champion Nigel Mansell bought an F40 for a record price of £1 million (about $1.7 million, then). That record held for more than three decades when it was unseated in the 2010s. Today, you can find the Ferrari F40’s worth hovering around $2.5 million, per recent auctions and sales. 

You can definitely buy one, too

Specialty websites and smaller exotic car dealers have active sales listed. Auctions like RM Sotheby’s, Mecum, and Barrett-Jackson also have sold plenty of F40s over the last few years. 

The rarer (and more expensive) F40 cars have very thin paint coats

There’s a simple reason for this. Less than two liters of red paint were used on many of the early F40s. Why? To save weight. (Yes, seriously.) The paint spray was so thin that the weave of the body, made of Kevlar, was visible through the coat. When the deliveries started, many customers found that undesirable, so the cars were resprayed with thicker coats. Therefore, the units that still bear original, light paint are more desirable to collectors and subsequently worth far more.

The F40 has no driver aids

If the paint was sparingly applied in a bid to lower the car’s weight, nearly every other creature comfort and driver aid was eliminated under similar thinking. That means no ABS (the F40’s brakes aren’t even power-assisted), no power assist in the rack and pinion steering, and no air-conditioning system, carpets, door trim, or door handles. There wasn’t even a radio offered. Later, for the U.S. market, air-conditioning units were added because the cabin simply got too hot from the engine. 

The Ferrari F40.

A minimalist monster, the original F40s came with no air-conditioning system, carpet, radio, or door handles.

Photo by Vincent Doyle/Shutterstock.

All the deletions make the F40 supremely lithe

A tubular steel chassis and the Kevlar body panels, in concert with the removal of all other non-essential bits, leave the F40’s curb weight clocking in at 2,433 pounds. This was leaps and bounds ahead of its nearest competitor, the Porsche 959, which rang the scales at 3,214 pounds. 

Not everyone loved the handling as a result of the weight-saving design

Gordon Murray, father of the iconic McLaren F1, tested the F40 for Motor Trend back in 1990 and noted that little else was magic beyond the lightness. “[Ferrari] is asking two- and three-inch-diameter steel tubes at chassis base level to do all the work, and it shows,” Murray said. “You can feel the chassis flexing on the circuit and it wobbles all over the place on the road. It really does shake about. And, of course, once you excite the chassis, the door panels start rattling and squeaking.” 

Ferrari did not care about any F40 criticisms

A marketing executive for Ferrari is quoted as having said, “Customers had been saying our cars were becoming too plush and comfortable. The F40 is for the most enthusiastic of our owners who want nothing but sheer performance.” 

The Ferrari F40.

The car is powered by a 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged, and intercooled, V-8 with 471 hp and 426 ft lbs of torque.

Photo by Mateusz Rostek/Shutterstock.

For the supremely hardcore, 10 examples of the F40 Competizione were created

The F40 wasn’t wild enough for some Ferrari owners, so the marque offered a handful of F40 Competiziones. The first two were dubbed F40 LMs (Le Mans), though Ferrari later thought that attaching the name to the iconic endurance race was too limiting, so it retitled them “Competizione.” The upgrades to the engine resulted in a whopping 691 hp and a reported top speed as high as 228 mph. 

A $299 Lego kit for the Ferrari F40 has 1,158 pieces, but is no longer in production.

Photo by Ekaterina_Minaeva/Shutterstock.

You can (sort of) build your own F40

Thanks to a partnership with Legos Creator Expert line, if you’ve got the time and patience, you can create a serious and detailed F40 replica. The $299 kit has 1,158 pieces, and the resulting model is nearly a foot long. Like its real-life cousin, it’s also retired from production.

An F40 is not too good for street parking

Well, it probably is actually: Anyone who has the wherewithal to buy an F40 also has the wherewithal to respect themselves and the car by taking proper care of it, but Jalopnik reported on a street-parked F40 in 2019 with duct tape on the hood from when a Yaris backed into it. That’s nothing a restoration shop couldn’t fix, and in southern California, especially, you’ll see seven-figure cars parked on the street quite a bit, but old supercar ownership is also a public service to everyone else, who would prefer to see it looking as good as it can.

F40s can definitely snow drift

In 2016, Red Bull sent a specially modified F40 up some snowy slopes in Japan and, naturally, made a video out of it, too, the kind of unlimited-budget stunt fit for those with unlimited budgets or at least energy-drink companies looking to increase their numbers on YouTube. It was, in a word, glorious.

The F40 had a wonderfully 1980s promo video

You can see Enzo Ferrari himself in the video, along with a good burnout, and various shots of the F40 rolling around doing F40 things. The video was produced by a Japanese magazine called Car Graphic, and intended for the market there because sometimes even Ferrari has to re-introduce itself.

Source: Robb Report

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