If you want to have the meanest, baddest, highest-horsepower stallion allowed in the Ferrari Historic paddock, here it is

The F40 was a simple machine that, like the greatest Ferraris of the past, relied upon its engine for its performance. Suspension and layout were conventional, and there were no serious attempts to employ cutting-edge technology. The F40 was good, sound, basic design, with a superb twin-turbocharged engine, aerodynamics heavily weighted toward downforce and stability, and generous use of lightweight composite materials. There was no ABS, no traction control, no electro-hydraulic paddle shifting, and no stability control. With a 201 mph top speed and 0 to 60 mph in less than four seconds, no one was disappointed with the F40. Ferrari proposed only a limited run of 400 or so F40s, but the model's reception was overwhelming, even at over $250,000 apiece, and the run kept growing until 1,315 were built by the time production ended in 1991.

Competition was not in Ferrari's original plan for the F40, but Daniel Marin, managing director of French Ferrari importer Charles Pozzi SA, took the initiative and authorized Michelotto, the famed Padova Ferrari service center, to construct a series of F40 LMs for racing under IMSA rules in the U.S. Just 19 were built, although only the first two, destined for Pozzi, were actually raced to any significant extent.

Do not confuse this F40 LM with a "plain vanilla" customer version. Chassis 79891 is the second of the two Pozzi F40 LMs. Records show it was completed by Michelotto on January 16, 1990. Although it was raced in North America that season by Pozzi under the Ferrari-France banner along with its sister, chassis 79890, it remained under Ferrari's ownership and wasn't formally delivered to Pozzi until January 1991. As a factory-backed development car, it benefits from a series of enhancements and upgrades, including titanium connecting rods and 9:1 compression pistons, giving its twin-turbocharged, intercooled engine a breathtaking 850 horsepower at 7,500 rpm. That translates to a top speed of 228 mph.

Ferrari F40 LM 79891 was retained by Ch. Pozzi SA until its present owner was able to acquire it in 2003. Throughout its life, 79891 has been carefully and consistently maintained in as-raced condition. It retains its original F120B engine (number 02), was certified authentic by Ferrari Classiche in March 2007, and has its FIA identity papers. It is eligible for, and competitive in, a variety of historic and Ferrari events, and its status as one of the original run of factory-built Ferrari F40 LMs means it is one of very few of these exciting automobiles that will ever be eligible for Ferrari Classiche certification and, as of the 2009 race season, participation in the Ferrari-Maserati Challenge series, where it should shine.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1990 Ferrari F40 LM Competition Berlinetta
Years Produced:1990 (LM variant)
Number Produced:19
Original List Price:$650,000 approx., depending on who you knew
Chassis Number Location:Right upper frame above shock mount
Engine Number Location:Front of block behind water pump, center of V
Club Info:Ferrari Owners Club, 19051 Goldenwest St. Suite 106-328 Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Investment Grade:B

This 1990 Ferrari F40 LM Competition Berlinetta sold for $1,302,075, including buyer’s premium, at the Bonhams Les Grandes Marques à Monaco auction on May 18, 2009.

Racing cars are fast-that’s part of the definition of the genre. That said, “fast” is an entirely relative term. A supercharged Austin special from the ’30s might be fast for what it is (not to mention being cute as a bug) but a real slug compared to cars we’re used to today, like your wife’s minivan. This Ferrari is most emphatically the other extreme.

When Ferrari conceived of the F40, the object was that it should be the fastest production car on the planet, period. They were successful. In an era of rapidly accelerating sophistication and complexity, the F40 was classic Ferrari-an excellent chassis and suspension package with a functional body pushed along by ridiculous quantities of horsepower. It was intentionally simple and light, with none of the electronic “please save me” gizmos that make modern supercars survivable for driving by merely competent owners.

It was a device designed to deliver unfettered power-horse, braking, and cornering-to the road and made no concessions to an inadequate driver. If not very carefully controlled it could and did bite back, hard. It was, to put it simply, the last of the true “race cars for the street” Ferrari produced.

The ultimate bad boy’s street toy

This is ironic, because the F40 was never intended for racing, at least not the formal and organized sort. It was an ultimate bad boy’s street toy, built to celebrate 40 years of Ferrari having built exactly that, and the days of seriously racing street toys were over, at least in Europe. In the U.S., though, the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) had a successful racing series for cars that had started out as (or at least looked pretty much like cars that had started out as) big-noise performance street machines.

The cars were called IMSA GTO and ran as a support series to the premier GTP championship races. It seemed like an excellent place to prove Ferrari’s supercar, so the factory decided to have Michelotto modify a series of F40s to qualify for entry, designated Ferrari F40 LM. Though apparently 19 were converted, only two actually raced in the series. To be honest, they weren’t particularly successful; the competition from Audi, Nissan, and Mazda was formidable, and the one season they raced was mostly spent learning how to get faster.

It is important to note here that these two cars were campaigned by Ferrari France (Pozzi) but were owned by the factory until after the season ended. Technically, this means that all of the racing modifications made during the season were done by the factory, not a private owner. After the season the cars were sold to Pozzi and stayed there, this one eventually making it to private ownership.

There is an essential disconnect associated with the Ferrari F40. As a street car, it is so violently powerful that most people treat it (rightly so) with the respect and trepidation accorded a fully loaded Uzi with the safety disabled. Mike Sheehan’s comment sums it up perfectly: “A great car makes a bad driver look good. The F40 makes a good driver look busy and a bad driver look foolish, as he climbs out of the smoking wreckage.”

This means that the only real place for it is on the track. At the track, though, there’s not much to do with it. It’s too new for most venues of historic racing, plus only a couple of them were ever really racing cars, so for the most part F40s are limited to club lapping days and other low-profile, low-status events.

The Ferrari F40 would be the ultimate padded codpiece

As such, they seem to have a relatively established value in the $400,000 range. It is a Ferrari, though, and there are some high-status events, specifically the Ferrari-Maserati Historic Challenge series, for which, if it were acceptable, the F40 would be the ultimate padded codpiece. I’m told that either this year or next, the Ferrari F40 LM will be allowed to participate in these events, but there’s a catch: All cars are required to have Ferrari Classiche Certification to enter, and the certification requires that the car be in the “exact configuration as when it left the factory.” There are only two F40 LM Competition Berlinetta’s in the world that “left the factory” with a full season’s worth of racing modifications, which I understand to include at least several hundred horsepower.

This brings the story back full circle to this car. It sold for at least three times what an “ordinary” F40 is likely worth, but you can use it in ways the others can only dream about. If you want to have the meanest, baddest, highest-horsepower stallion allowed in the Ferrari Historic paddock, here it is, and it’s about the only one. Comparable values are not street F40s, but the 512 Ms, BBLMs, and competition Daytonas it can go share the stage with. If someone seriously wants to play in this league, particularly at the pointy end of the fast grid, this is what it costs to do it. I’d say fair money if you can afford to play and are a good enough driver to hang on to the reins.

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