Playing with the F40 in our 70-mph society is like going deer hunting with a rocket launcher

Introduced in 1988 to celebrate Enzo Ferrari's 40 years as a carmaker, the F40 was the last car with a design personally approved by the great man himself. With a top speed of 201 mph and 0-60 mph time of under four seconds, the F40 was the world's fastest production automobile and the ultimate supercar of its day.
A four-cam, 3-liter V8 was equipped with four valves per cylinder and employed twin turbochargers to generate 478 hp at 7,000 rpm and 426 lb-ft of torque. Of equal technical interest was the method of chassis construction, with the F40 drawing on Ferrari's Formula One experience in its use of composites. A one-piece plastic molding, the body was bonded to the tubular steel chassis to create a lightweight structure of immense rigidity. The door, hood, trunk and other removable panels were carbon fiber.
Pugnaciously styled by Pininfarina, the Ferrari F40 incorporates the latest aerodynamic aids in the form of a dam-shaped nose and high rear airfoil, yet contrived to be a thing of beauty non etheless. The F40's interior re-enforced its image as a thinly disguised race car.
This U.S.-specification, catalytic-converter-equipped F40 was previously owned by a Ferrari enthusiast, whose race car driver son also owned one of these fabulous machines. Finished in the F40's traditional Rosso Corsa with matching interior, the car has covered approximately 4,331 miles from new and is presented in commensurately excellent condition. It is equipped with a desirable Borla exhaust, and offered complete with instruction book, tools and U.S. title.
This is a rare opportunity to acquire a fine example of the last model to bear the late Enzo Ferrari's personal imprint, created by him in the image of the legendary Le Mans-winning 250LM.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1990 Ferrari F40
Years Produced:1988-92
Number Produced:1,311
Original List Price:$399,150
Distributor Caps:N/A
Chassis Number Location:on frame in front compartment under washer bottle
Engine Number Location:on top front of engine by the water pump
Club Info:Ferrari Club of America, P.O. Box 720597, Atlanta, GA 30358
Alternatives:1986-88 Porsche 959, 2005 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, 1992-95 Bugatti EB 110

This 1990 Ferrari F40 sold for $304,200 at the Bonhams Carmel auction held August 13, 2004.
The experience of driving a Ferrari F40 begins when you open the door, made of a lightweight composite material clad with only the minimum of an inner door panel. The inside door latch is nothing more than a plastic-covered wire, and pulling it open takes less effort than picking up the keys.
Entering the car means literally climbing into it, balancing like a stork on your left leg, carefully lifting your right across a wide sill and stepping down into the cockpit. Straddling the sill, you can then lift your butt over a carbon fiber frame member before dropping way down into the shell. It’s an awkward task that rewards you like little else.
Once inside you’re struck by the sparseness of the cabin. Large panels of carbon fiber are everywhere that you would normally see carpet. The dash and center console are unceremoniously covered in a nondescript gray cloth. Leather trim? Nope. Luxury accessories? Save those for the poseurs in their 328s. No glovebox or radio, and even the windows are manually operated. The air conditioning vents are the only nod to convenience and they look like they were plugged in as an afterthought.
Starting the car is a two-step process. First a key is turned to energize the electronics, then the starter button is depressed. The car fires easily and idles smoothly, with no hint of the ferocity that is to come. The turbochargers muffle the idling engine, but not so much that its potential cannot be heard. A quick blip of the throttle doubles the decibel level inside the car, and you’re off.
On the road, there is not much else that compares to an F40. You can hear every pebble flung off the front tires into the undercarriage, a sound that is amplified by the composite panels devoid of usual sound deadening material.
At part throttle there’s little unusual, as the engine is smooth, with plenty of torque and excellent flexibility. It lugs effortlessly at 30 mph and cruises smoothly at 80. But when the pedal is aggressively depressed, the monster is released.
The F40’s full-throttle acceleration can only be described as brutal. The turbos hit full pressure in an instant, and shift points come in the blink of an eye. The massive rear tires struggle to spin freely while the exceptional chassis fights valiantly to keep them in place. Torque always wins, making judicious throttle modulation necessary to maintain any traction whatsoever. This F40 can overpower even the best drivers.
The car pictured here was a typical low-mileage F40. It is not unusual to find these cars for sale without too many ticks on the odo, as there just aren’t many places to use them. An F40 does not work well as a GT car, as even though it has space for a small bag or two, it lacks the comfort you’d desire for a several hour drive. It’s not a great drive-around-and-impress sports car either, as near-90 mph speeds can be reached in second gear. Playing with the F40 in our 70-mph society is like going deer hunting with a rocket launcher.
Obviously, these cars are most at home on the track, where they are always a candidate for fast time of the day. Even better, they are mechanically dead reliable, so while the other guys are fidgeting with their race cars, an F40 owner simply does the contortionist routine, presses the go button, and the fun starts.
The SCM Price Guide puts F40s in the $275,000-$375,000 range, but there is a large disparity between F40 prices here and in Europe. European sales in the mid-$200s are common, but the cars often have seen a lot of use, and have far more miles on them. U.S. cars, often trailer queens, seem to hover around $300,000, dollar-Euro exchange notwithstanding. European F40s will not comply with DOT regulations without an expensive conversion, so you’re stuck buying a domestic car.
This Ferrari F40 was offered for sale in 1995 with just 780 miles for $265,000, and last spring it was offered on eBay at a starting bid of $275,000. A 7,000-mile F40 sold at Christie’s Monterey auction for $326,500 just four days before the Bonhams sale, so I’d have to say that the buyer here paid fair money. Hopefully he can find the time and place to enjoy this outrageous car.
(Historical and descriptive information courtesy of the auction company.)

Comments are closed.