The Ferrari F40 became an instant icon not just in Maranello but of the car world itself. The perfect car to celebrate the Prancing Horse’s 40th anniversary, after which it was named. It was an instant success too and collectors from all over the world clambered to get their hands on an F40 of their own.
Like the 288 GTO, the Ferrari F40 had a tubular steel chassis but differed in its extensive use of carbon-fiber composites on the floorpan, dashboard, front bulkhead, and other areas. The body was also made of composite materials employed in Ferrari’s Formula 1 program, in this case a Nomex, Kevlar, and carbon-fiber weave.
The twin-turbo 2936cc 90-degree V-8 was mounted longitudinally, and featured double overhead cams, twin intercoolers, and electronic engine-management systems. Its capacity was larger and thus so was its compression ratio and, of course, power output. It punched out 478 hp at 7,000 rpm as well as delivering maximum torque of 577 Nm at 4,000 rpm. It also had dry sump lubrication while its two water-cooled IHI turbochargers fed air intake at 1.1 bar. The F40’s rear-engine was coupled with a five-speed all-synchromesh manual gearbox with a non-synchromesh version available as an optional for owners that wanted an even more extreme driving experience.
The interior was all business, ultra-sporty and spare to the point of minimalism. The sliding windows were plexiglas, the doors and other panels were exposed carbon fiber. Seats were deep buckets, also made of carbon-fiber materials, and there was no carpeting. The only concession to comfort was air-conditioning provided as standard. The door release catch was a pull wire in the bare door pockets while the windows were plastic and opened or closed by either a manual winder on the inner door panel or sliding panels.
The result, however, was a very light car: the Ferrari F40 had a dry weight of just 1,100 kg, in fact. This was also a factor in creating its legend as it was extreme on every level, from its looks to its technology and, of course, its performance - The F40 was made after all for the most enthusiastic of Ferrari owners who want nothing but sheer performance. That’s what the Ferrari F40 delivered.
Tested in a “World’s Fastest Cars” shootout; it hit 100 mph in 8 seconds flat, covered the quarter-mile in 11.8. That was quicker than both the Porsche 959 Deluxe and 959 Sport in the shootout. The test Ferrari topped out at 196 mph.
Customers lined up to purchase the Ferrari F40 at a factory sticker of $470,000, and Ferrari responded. Initially, the company said it would make 400 Ferrari F40s. But with 3,000 customers waving check books, pen in hand production was increased.
It was reported Ferrari planned to stop at 1,000. Production wound up being open ended -- the company would build as many as the market demanded. Still, prices were driven up to three times in the speculator-driven hysteria of the late 1980s.
The car developed a devoted following among true enthusiasts. It’s legend only grew when Enzo died in 1988, making the Ferrari F40 the final Ferrari introduced under his watch.
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