Its rear spoiler is held high, like the tail of the prancing stallion that graces its maker’s mark. This is the Ferrari F40, Enzo Ferrari’s dream of building the “best in the world” come true, and the last Ferrari to be released before Enzo’s death in 1988.
The release also marked the 40th anniversary of Ferrari S.p.A., as well as a reworking of the 288 GTO “Evoluzione,” which was developed as a rally car for FIA Group B racing until the series was discontinued. Pininfarina engineers, headed by designer Leonardo Fioravanti, went back to the Evoluzione drawing board to create the F40, giving it an entirely new body design with a lightweight, tubular steel chassis and utilizing carbon fiber in the floor pan, dashboard, front bulkhead and other areas, as well as a composite body made from woven Kevlar, Nomex and carbon fiber. It had low ground clearance, mounted on an upper and lower A-arm suspension system, with tube shocks, coil springs and an anti-roll bar in the front and rear, as well as 13.0” vented disc brakes and cast alloy wheels sporting 335/35ZR-17 tires in the rear and 235/45ZR-17’s in the front.
The 2,936 cc (2.9 L) twin-turbocharged Tipo F120A V8 mid-mounted 90° longitudinal engine was packed into a vented engine bay and produced 478 horsepower with 424 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm. It featured twin intercoolers and was aided by an electronic Weber-Marelli engine management system that allowed separate electronic ignition and fuel injection for each bank of cylinders. Coupled with a 5-speed manual transmission, the 2,425-lb F40 depended on more on aerodynamics than power for speed, with a partial undertray that directed airflow beneath the radiator, front section, and cabin as well as diffusers behind the engine. The front of the car was trimmed for aerodynamics
as well. Lift is controlled by spoilers and a wing that allows for a low drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.34.
The interior was meant to be “spartan,” as befitting a race car, without carpet, door handles or frills like a sound system, although the designers did allow for necessary air conditioning. Its deep bucket seats were carbon fiber and the first models featured a sliding piece of Lexan for the windows, eventually adopting roll-down windows after the initial first 50 F40s rolled off the production line.
Ferrari F40 testing reports that it goes from zero to 62 mph in about 3.8 seconds and hits the 100 mph mark at just 8 seconds. It has a top speed of 196 mph but has been reported to be the first production car designed for the road to break the 200 mph barrier at 201.4 mph. Some describe the F40 as being “like an open-wheel racing car with a body” (Wikipedia) even though it was never truly intended as a race car. It did see competition, however, at Laguna Seca in 1989, piloted by Jean Alesi, finishing third behind two Audi 90s and with virtually no factory sponsorship.