Rather than producing a car that would be compared to the F40, Ferrari chose a different path and decided to build a Formula One car for the street
Fifty years of racing, 50 years of winning, 50 years of hard work." With these words, Luca di Montezemolo introduced the F50 on March 6, 1995, at the Auto Museum in Geneva, Switzerland, in conjunction with the city's 63rd annual auto show.
Piero Lardi Ferrari and Sergio Pininfarina removed the car cover to officially present the new car to the world. The F40 may have been a hard act to follow, but the Ferrari designers exceeded themselves with the F50, which replaced its predecessor's small capacity twin-turbo V8 powerplant with a more traditional Ferrari V12.
In typical Ferrari fashion, the company announced just 349 cars would be built over two years-one less than the market demanded. The first ten cars went to Europe, while deliveries to the United States began in July 1995. Each owner received a document signed by Luca di Montezemolo attesting to the authenticity of the car, and all the owners were to be invited back to Modena after the last F50 was produced to celebrate the evolution of the car.
The Ferrari F50 on offer, chassis 105193, was delivered to HRH Prince Saud Bin Fahad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud. The car was kept primarily at the Prince's Monte Carlo residence. Build number 148 of 349, HRH retained the car until 2002, at which point the car was sold to an owner in the United Kingdom.
This F50 is capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in under four seconds and goes from 0 to 100 mph in just over eight seconds. The car has never been damaged, and both the aerodynamic carbon fiber body and central structure maintain the close factory tolerances with which the F50 was built. The interior appears practically new, with no wear on the form-fitting racing-style seats.
The condition of this F50 will satisfy the most demanding collector and it will provide all the performance for which these supercars are known. It offers a nimble, exhilarating, and unapologetically aggressive driving experience. This F50 has very low mileage and underwent a recent full service by official Ferrari dealer Joe Macari, and it includes Ferrari Certification.
|Vehicle:||1996 Ferrari F40|
|Original List Price:||$475,000|
|Tune Up Cost:||$6,000|
|Distributor Caps:||n/a (no distributor caps)|
|Chassis Number Location:||Plate riveted to bulkhead in front compartment|
|Engine Number Location:||Front left side of block|
|Club Info:||Ferrari Club of America, PO Box 720597, Atlanta, GA 30358|
This 1996 Ferrari F50 sold for $511,676, including buyer’s premium, at RM’s Automobiles of London auction at Battersea Evolution, London, on October 29, 2008.
By the time the F50 hit the drawing board, the modern supercar had been defined and for the most part perfected. Supercars are showcases of a manufacturer’s technological ability in design and in performance. They are cost-no-object exercises, built in editions often limited to the marketing department’s ability to sell them.
Prestigious manufacturers build supercars for a game where racking up magazine covers and feature articles may be as important as making money off the cars. The Ferrari 288 GTO set the stage in 1984, followed by the Porsche 959, the Jaguar XJ220 and the Bugatti EB110. Ferrari upped the bar with its F40, then McLaren blew away the field with the F1, a car so dominating in all respects that until the Bugatti Veyron was introduced more than a decade later, nothing else was in the same league (and some would maintain that even the Veyron isn’t in the same league as the F1, but that’s a different conversation). With such formidable competition, Ferrari needed a gimmick to make its F50 stand out, and by focusing on Formula One technology, it found one.
Ferrari has a reputation for passing its racing technology down to its street cars. Sometimes it was well after other manufacturers had adopted the technology, as with disc brakes or mid-engines. Other times, Ferrari was ahead of the pack, as with the paddle shift transmission. Ferrari recognized that the F50 could only be incrementally better than previous supercars, so rather than producing a car whose existence would be judged by comparisons to the F40, the company chose a different path. It decided to build a Formula One car for the street.
The concept started with two staples of an F1 car-a composite tub and an engine that serves both as a power plant and a part of the chassis. It is doubtful that you’ll ever see an F50 stripped of its bodywork, but if you did, you’d find a carbon composite monocoque of just 225 lb. Fasteners are bonded to the tub with aerospace adhesive, and the car is built around the structure. The engine is rigidly attached to the monocoque, and the rear suspension, rear bumper, and rear bodywork are actually attached to the engine. In the front, a sub-frame is attached to the monocoque and it serves as an attachment point for both the racing-derived pushrod suspension and for the front bodywork.
The engine is a close derivative of the F1 V12
The engine is a departure from the 288 GTO’s and F40’s turbocharged V8s. It is instead a close derivative of a Formula One V12, cast in steel rather than alloy to meet the structural needs of a street car. The 4.7-liter unit is tuned to 513 hp at 8,500 rpm, some 35 horses more than an F40 but 2 hp per liter less than the earlier car. The 8,500 rpm redline is about half the revs an F1 version turns but far more practical for a street car.
The design loosely follows the theme of Pininfarina’s Mythos: the nose profile of an F1 car is sculpted in the front of the F50, while with the rear resembles the winged profile of the race car. The aerodynamics are highly developed, again using lessons learned in F1.
F40 hit the hot button, F50 missed
The small number of Ferrari F50s produced, 349, means not many change hands. Looking for a way to discourage speculation, Ferrari leased rather than sold F50s to the first owners. The move worked to limit speculation but also doused the hysteria that drives the secondary market. Would-be buyers never got whipped up to the frenzy state, and while the small number of cars available keeps the prices high, the interest in the car fell short of its potential. I’ve never been asked to find an F50 for a customer, while I almost always know someone interested in an F40. This has less to do with price than it does lust. The F40 hit a hot button which the F50 simply missed.
There are three F50s in the current Ferrari Market Letter. They range from $875,000 to $985,000. The SCM Price Guide hits them at $675,000-$775,000, yet the RM car only brought $520,000. Is the sky falling? The Ferrari Market Letter cars are simply missing reality. Someone threw one out at a high price to test the market and a couple others followed. The SCM price is closer to reality, but given the current economic state, it may be a bit high.
The missing link is currency. RM’s car sold at 319,000 British pounds, well within pre-sale estimates. Converted on the day of sale that comes out to $511,676, but go back just a few months before and the same 319,000 pounds was worth about $622,000. SCM Platinum shows an August eBay sale at $650,000, a number more representative of the real market. The buyer here got a good deal, but the sky isn’t falling and he didn’t steal it.