Lean, pure, extreme, uncompromising, the preserve of the lucky few. That is exactly the car Enzo Ferrari wanted to celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary. Lean as its name: the F40. Pure as the iconic lines of its bodywork. Extreme as the performance it could deliver. Uncompromising because it was – very deliberately – stripped of the electronic control systems designed to come to the assistance of less expert drivers.
The F40 is all that and much more. Bursting with indomitable character, it is a genuine supercar, an extreme evolution of the 308 GTB and the GTO Evoluzione, the prototype that inspired its lines and solutions. In other words, it is a real Ferrari as a delighted Enzo Ferrari himself liked to say when asked what he thought of it. That said, Ferrari also wanted the F40 to deliver a uniquely powerful emotional impact on more than just its drivers. The F40 was the state-of-the-art in terms of its power, thanks to a twin-turbo 90° V8 engine that generated almost 160 CV/litre by virtue of twin intercoolers and IHI turbos, punching out a total of 478 CV. An engineering masterpiece supported by a central integrated tubular steel and composite structure of a kind previously only used in the Formula 1 single-seaters. This solution worked well with a tubular steel chassis to which Kevlar reinforcement panels were bonded guaranteeing three times the torsional rigidity of a regular road car. The result was that the F40 weighed just 1,100 kg. This fact combined with a set-up and suspensions adjustable to three different heights to suit different speeds, guaranteed the model astonishing road-holding and extreme performance figures, most notably a top speed of 324 km/h and 0 to 100 km/h acceleration in just 4.1 seconds.
Enzo Ferrari’s final and definitive car’s styling was, of course, well on a par with its technological prowess. It had a stunning fibreglass body, for a start. Crafted by Pininfarina around the technical and stylistic design produced by engineer Nicola Materazzi, the F40 made no secret of its racing roots and aerodynamic ambitions. Its low nose and compact overhang, huge rear spoiler and aggressive air intakes lent it a hugely aggressive, dynamic and exquisitely Ferrari charisma.
When it was officially unveiled at Maranello’s Centro Civico on July 21 1987, 900 orders flooded in. Although its original list price was 380 million lire, the F40 was soon changing hands for 1.6 billion lire. Even the great one-off connoisseur Gianni Agnelli had a customised version built that would go down in history as the “F40 Valeo”. This particular car was equipped with the Mondial T’s automatic clutch which was coupled with an electronic version that could engage and disengage at 100 milliseconds. The cabin also featured black rather than red fabric trim.