Ferrari F40 is a mid-engine rear-wheel driver two-seater Berlinetta designed by Pininfarina and developed by Ferrari engineer Nicola Materazzi. It was designed to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Ferrari and was the last Ferrari project to be personally approved and supervised by Enzo Ferrari himself. It was also the successor to the Ferrari 288 GTO. It was also developed to compete against the Porsche 959.
At the time of its production, it was the fastest, most powerful, and most expensive car for sale.
Ferrari 288 GTO Evoluzione
In early 1984, Nicola Materazzi came with a new project proposal. He went to meet Enzo Ferrari and discussed his idea of using a Group B 4.0-liter category performance levels packaged in a road-legal new car that is easier to drive on the road in the hands of regular buyers.
General Manager Eugenio Alzati gave approval for the project, but a limited number of personal were attached to the project and Nicola Materazzi was told to work on the project on Saturdays and Sundays.
A very small team of engineers and designers then went to work on the GTO Evoluzione race car to compete with the Porsche 959 in FIA Group B events.
At first, it was decided to sell the cars to enthusiasts who might consider purchasing one since its rarity. However, Enzo Ferrari was told by a test driver that Nicola Materazzi could develop a road-legal high-performance car based on the underpinnings of the Ferrari 288 GTO Evoluzione.
Enzo Ferrari was getting ready for his retirement due to ill health, and he had a desire to leave a legacy in his final sports car exclusively for road use. He was very impressed with the performance figures of the Ferrari 288 GTO Evoluzione and the recent turbocharging technologies which delivered a high amount of power without stepping over the ever-increasing strict emission regulations.
Since this new car is all about performance, it was necessary to make it lightweight as possible. So, Enzo Ferrari decided to give it a bare minimum interior and to use lightweight materials and manufacturing techniques to build it. Ferrari F40 is all about sheer performance and it was built for the enthusiasts who were looking for something rather special.
Leonardo Fioravanti and Piero Camardella of Pininfarina designed the bodywork under the supervision of Nicola Materazzi. Nicola Materazi worked on evolutions of the engine and the transmission unit. Constant development, upgrades, and testing resulted in many revisions and eventually, many mechanical components were replaced with better ones. Some changes were done to make the car road legal as well.
Ferrari F40 was styled after the Ferrari 288 GTO Evoluzione and from the beginning of the project in June 1986, Enzo Ferrari asked for the production variant of the car to be finished on or before the summer of 1987, to be unveiled. This meant that the development, designing, styling, testing, and all research had to be done within 11 months.
Enzo Ferrari gave Nicola Materazzi permission to enlist all engineers in the racing department and production department to work on the project. Some of the development was outsourced to other companies to reduce the development time.
Intense aerodynamic tests lead to many revisions and aerodynamic tweaking to allow maximum aerodynamic efficiency.
Efficient cooling of the engine was a must since the forced induction, the turbocharged engine was generating a big amount of heat. The engine bay wasn’t sealed.
To provide efficient heat venting, and smooth airflow to the radiator, a partial undertray was included. A diffuser was added behind the engine to improve the downforce. Ferrari F40 has an aerodynamic drag coefficient of 0.34 Cd.
The bodywork was made by Michelotto Automobili in Padua. Michelotto Automobili had experience in manufacturing bodywork for the rally and track racing sports cars such as Lancia Stratos, and Ferrari 288 GTO Evoluzione.
Body panels were made out of Kevlar, carbon fiber, and aluminum alloy for strength and for weight reduction. The windshield and door windows were made out of polycarbonate plastic to reduce weight further.
The engine is derived from the Ferrari 288 GTO’s 90-degree twin-turbocharged and inter-cooled V8 engine. It is now enlarged to have a displacement of 2936cc with an 82mm bore and stroke of 69.5mm.
It also has a dual overhead cam per bank, four-valves per cylinder layout. Fuel is fed with Weber-Marelli electronic fuel injection and single spark plug ignition per cylinder. The fuel compression ratio is 7.7:1. Dry-sump lubrication system.
The maximum power delivery is measured at 471hp at 7000rpm and the maximum torque is 426 lb-ft at 4000rpm. The specific output is 160.6hp per liter.
The powertrain was then mated to a dual-clutch five-speed manual transmission unit.
Since all the engines were hand-assembled the maximum power output, torque curve, and gearing can differ among the cars.
Until the 1990 model year, Ferrari F40 wasn’t equipped with a catalytic converter. When the US emission regulations made it a requirement the US-spec cars were equipped with one.
Flaking exhaust pipes direct the exhaust gases from each bank of cylinders while the central directs gases released from the wastegate of the turbochargers.
Ferrari F40 features a suspension system similar to the Ferrari 288 GTO. Front and rear suspension are comprised of independent, unequal-length wishbones, coil springs over telescopic shock absorbers, and an anti-roll bar. Hydraulic lift chambers were equipped in the front dampers to allow the Ferrari F40 to lift its nose to run over speed bumps. This feature was added due to its extremely low ground clearance.
Ferrari F40 was given a bare minimum interior and featured only the basic driver aids and equipment. It didn’t feature leather trimming, carpets, a sound system, glove box, or door panels either. However, it was given moderate air conditioning to keep the cabin at comfortable temperature levels.
The first fifty cars featured sliding Lexan windows, and the later production cars were fitted with wind-down windows.
All the cars were left-hand drive and were finished in Rosso Corsa color.
Several cars were converted to right-hand drive and delivered to the Sultan of Brunei. These cars were modified and painted in different colors as per the request of the Sultan.
Since the Ferrari F40 had more power and more torque delivery, it was necessary to be equipped with better wheels and tires to cope with the power outputs which as normally associated with racing cars. Nicola Materazzi teamed up with Mario Mezzanotte, head of development at Pirelli, who he had known since the rallying efforts of the Lancia factory team. Mario Mezzanotte used his experience on Formula One seasons of 1980 to 1985 and developed a carcass with lightweight materials reinforced with Kevlar and asymmetrical tread patterns to create P-Zero tires specifically for the Ferrari F40.
Front tires were 235/45 ZR 17 or 245/40 ZR 17 ones. The rear tires were 335/35 ZR 17 ones.
330mm discs with Brembo calipers were all around for better stopping and handling of the car.
Ferrari F40 was intended to be unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show, but FIAT needed to present the all-new Alfa Romeo 164 at the show and they wanted it to become the star of the show. Taking this to his advantage, Enzo Ferrari decided to delay the launch by full two months, giving the engineers to further improve the car. It was unveiled on 21 July 1987 at the Maranello Civic center.
Ferrari F40 achieved 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds and 0-100mph in 8.3 seconds. The top speed was 201mph. It ran the quarter-mile in 12.1 seconds with a top speed of 122mph.
The production was originally planned for a total of 400 units. Each unit had a factory-suggested retail price of $400,000.
Ferrari F40 was built from 1987 to 1992. Production was supposed to a limited run of 500 units, but a total of 1315 units were produced due to high demand.
Enzo Ferrari passed away on 14th August 1988. Ferrari F40 was the last sports car to be personally supervised and approved by Enzo Ferrari. With his death, speculators were expecting huge demands for the Ferrari F40 cars, and most of the cars that were sold were used lightly and stored away to be sold for higher prices.
Ferrari F40 is considered one of the greatest road-going supercars of all time. Though it had bare-minimum creature comforts and a minimalist interior, it was superb in every possible way.
Since it was developed to compete directly against Porsche 959, Richard Hammond, the former presenter of Top Gear, tested a Ferrari F40 against a Porsche 959. He concluded that the Ferrari F40 is visceral and edgy an experience as the Porsche 959 is refined and sophisticated.
Autocar magazine named it the ultimate car to drive.
Ferrari F40 LM
Several Ferrari F40 cars were race prepared by Michelotto. These cars were known as the Ferrari F40 LM. The cars debuted at the Laguna Seca Raceway in 1989 under the GTO category. A Ferrari F40 LM driven by Jean Alesi won third place.
Three-second places and one-third place were achieved in the next season.
Many privateers purchased Ferrari F40 LM cars to participate in GT series tournaments. In the 1994 BPR Global GT Series, Ferrari F40 LM made its international competition debut in the hands of the Strandell team.
In 1995, and 1996 racing seasons Ferrari F40 LM cars won four hours of Anderstorp.
A total of 19 Ferrari F40 LM cars were produced.
Ferrari F40 Competizione
Ferrari F40 Competizione is a more powerful and updated variant of the Ferrari F40 LM. The first car was built following a request by a French Ferrari importer who wanted a car to participate in 24 Hours of Le Mans. Eventually, 20 cars were made. The first two were still called Ferrari F40 LM, the other eight were called Ferrari F40 Competizione.
Ferrari F40 Competizione is packing 691hp maximum at 8100rpm. The top speed is officially measured at 228mph.