October 20, 2020
Ferrari F40—Own The Dream
Is the Ferrari F40—created to celebrate Ferrari’s 40th anniversary and the final car brought to production by Enzo himself—the greatest Ferrari (and possibly the greatest supercar) ever built? You can debate that one all day, but what’s not in question is that it remains one of the world’s greatest icons of engineering prowess and surely the best analogue supercar ever made.
That all of this was created by chance is just one more slice of its mythical status.
That accidental birth came about when Ferrari decided to enter the world’s most notorious racing series, Group B, with a new GT race car built around the production Ferrari 288 GTO. The race variant would be known as the 288 GTO Evoluzione and it was all set to get into the action when the FIA promptly banned Group B almost overnight.
That left Ferrari with a development hole in their budget and five race cars that had nowhere to race sitting forlornly on the factory floor.
So what to do?
A then 88-year-old Enzo Ferrari was quickly convinced that the 288 GTO Evoluzione could be transformed into the greatest sportscar Maranello had ever built, in time for the Scuderia’s 40th anniversary—a supercar that would bring Maranello back to its rightful place in the supercar pecking order (a mantle that Ferrari had been losing to the competition with their then-model range which Enzo himself believed was a tad too sedate).
To meet that target, the new car had to go from concept to delivery in less than a year—an almost unheard of time-frame.
Engineers at Ferrari got to work. The body was contracted out to Pininfarina (who focused-in on aero as well as weight-saving, using carbon fibre, Kevlar, aluminium, and plastic for the windows and windshield), the chassis was developed from the Evoluzione, and the engine would borrow much tech’ from Ferrari’s F1 turbo engines from the mid-’80s.
Incredibly, in 11 months, the Ferrari F40 was ready to roll.
And what rolled out of the gates of Maranello was nothing short of a masterpiece, something almost mystical: A turbocharged 3L V8, 478hp mid-engined Ferrari weighing just 1,100KGs with a top speed of 324kmh and the fastest production car in the world.
Given this was 1987, there were no aids, no driver nannies, and few comforts in the cabin that featured cloth and felt and didn’t even have a door handle: just the essentials for customers who wanted what was essentially a race car for the street.
The F40 was an immediate sensation. The first production car to break the 200mph, it got to 100kmh in around 4.2s. But that’s just numbers. The true measure of this car, and why it’s still spoken of today in the same breath as the best Ferraris ever made, is in its handling and the thrill of that explosive V8 turbo, all of which you can experience for yourself in Project CARS 3.
Ferrari F40 LM
With racing tuners Michelotto Automobili, the Ferrari F40 got its full race development for the 1989 season, and that car would go on to become a staple of the GT-racing scene into the mid-’90s. Nineteen of these race cars were built, all known as the Ferrari F40 LM. Michelotto focused-in on improving the original street-going Ferrari F40 across the board—better aero, more power, less weight.
The engine was pushed up to 720hp (with new turbos rocketing to 100kmh in around 3.2s, and rumours of some engines topping out at 900hp!), top speed was now 229mph, and the car’s body was widened, suspension stiffened, and the rear-wing plumped-up.
And then they put in on a diet to come in at 1,050KGs.
It never did get the wins it deserved, though, because it came onto the GT-racing scene late, at a time when manufacturers were no longer tuning street-ready machines for the track, but rather creating race cars that were then detuned for the road. Still, it enjoyed several wins, and once you drive it, you’ll understand why it’s spoken of in such revered terms—a beautifully aggressive, immersive, loud, visceral and explosive race car that can only have come from the stable with the prancing horse.