Happy birthday to the Ferrari F40, in many eyes the greatest supercar ever built.
To commemorate the occasion, Ferrari has released a number of images of the original presentation, an epic Ferrari Club of Germany gathering in 1992 and celebrity owners at Fiorano, including Sylvester Stallone and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason.
The F40 was the last Ferrari built under the stewardship of company founder Enzo, who passed away on August 14, 1988. It was a response to the Porsche 959, Stuttgart’s technological terror that had claimed the title as the fastest production car in the world with its top speed of 317km/h, though Ferrari’s official line was “It would have happened anyway”.
To compete, Ferrari took the choice bits from its ultra-rare 288 GTO – like the 959 built for the stillborn Group B racing regulations – and massaged them into an ultra-powerful road racer. Freed from the need to comply with a racing rulebook, Ferrari expanded the twin-turbo V8 from 2855 to 2936cc with masses of boost resulting in 352kW/577Nm.
A tubular steel chassis, Kevlar bodywork and a complete lack of any creature comforts kept weight to just 1100kg, endowing the F40 with a fearsome power-to-weight ratio. Ferrari claimed 0-100km/h in 4.1sec, an 11.9sec quarter mile and, crucially, a 324km/h top speed, making the F40 the first production car to top 200mph.
Unlike the heavily computerised Porsche, the F40 was almost crude in its simplicity with no electronic driver aids at all – it didn’t even have power-assisted brakes. Combined with its all-or-nothing power delivery the car could be a real handful. Ferrari initially planned to build 400 F40s; it ended up making more than 1300, though less than half are believed to survive.
Initial press reviews were not particularly kind. The performance was absurd, but the F40 was hot, uncomfortable and mostly just hard work to drive. Of course, this raw, race-car focus is what has made it so sought after on the classic market.
A decade ago an F40 could have been snapped up for around $700,000; today you’ll need at least double that. One positive of the car’s age is that it now qualifies for historic registration in Australia, which means if you’re lucky you might see one cruising the streets on a sunny weekend.