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History of The Ferrari F40

The Ferrari F40 was the final crowning piece to Enzo Ferrari’s legacy, before passing away shortly after. The initial release marked the 40th anniversary for fiery Italian company. The F40 would be their fastest, most powerful and expensive model yet.

Between 1987 and 1992, there was little over 1,000 F40’s produced. The price of a drivable piece of automotive history would have been equivalent to £1M today. Propelled by a monstrous twin turbo V8 engine and slicing through wind with a lightweight body, it was a true racecar on the public road. Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond even crowned it as “greatest supercar the world had ever seen”.

Early Origins – 288 GTO Inspired

Back in 1984, the Maranello factory was busy refining their current 288 GTO models. Ferrari needed to build a car capable of defeating the Porsche 959 during the infamous Group B race events. When Group B ceased in 1986 Enzo was left with 5 of his 288 GTO development cars. With a desire to leave a great legacy he decided to use these for the development of the ultimate on road supercar.

Development – Uncompromised Performance

The GTO’s already had mighty twin turbocharged V8 engines. Yet for the F40 Enzo enlarged it to 3.8L and retuned them to produce a monstrous 478 BHP. The engine’s pipe work became pure engineered artwork. Gases were purposefully guided from each cylinder, through turbo chargers and then out of waste-gates and exhausts. Emission control using catalytic converters didn’t even enter the equation until forced by US regulations of 1990.

The double wishbone suspension set up was borrowed as a base from the GTO.  It received updated components and calculated adjustments to settings. The F40’s ground clearance was ridiculously low at less than 5”, the ability to raise the height had to be included for road practically.

The F40’s bodywork was purely an aerodynamic shell, truly a radical design for a road car. It was intelligently constructed to be incredibly rigid without much weight. Primarily the body was built from aluminium, carbon fibre and Kevlar panels. The F40 became a barebones performance machine with no driver comforts accept for air conditioning. Weight was saved where possible, forgoing carpets, door panels, leather trim, glove box and door handles! Unbelievably they even decided to use plastic windows and windshield.

The superior aerodynamics of the F40 was largely responsible for it’s high-speed capability. The shell was a result of extensive airflow trials for maximum stability with marginal air resistance. Air ducts and channels were also vital, carefully guiding air through the shell and drawing heat away from smouldering V8 engine. Thus a highly distinctive F40 silhouette was born.

Driving the F40 - Unbelievable

The Ferrari F40 simply goes like a bat out of hell. Every single one of this car’s components has been carefully chosen for performance. It’s a lively drive, weighing little over a tonne with 478 angry Italian horses kicking at the rear. If you’re brave enough it can take you from 0-60 in under 4 seconds, then up to 100 MPH in a further 3.5! Don’t forget it’s the first production car to break the 200 MPH barrier, with a few tweaks it has been taken to almost 230 MPH.

The Ferrari F40 certainly does not tick any boxes in terms of practically, reliability or comfort. Yet it’s the closest thing we will ever witness to a true racecar on the public road. With the F40, Enzo Ferrari fulfilled his legacy by developing the ultimate driver’s car.

published: 13/11/2015 09:24:24

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