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Tim's Forza History Class

Ferrari F40

By Tim DeLong - 06-09-2015

At the request of FRN member Joshua Marcum, this week’s history class will feature the brutal perfection that is the Ferrari F40.

Ferrari wanted something monumental for the 1987 model year, The new car was to succeed the outgoing 288 GTO. Ferrari had begun to develop a 288 GTO Evoluzione having built five cars for competition. Unfortunately, due to sweeping rule changes, the Evoluzione was ineligible for competition before it even saw a race track.

Not wanting to let all the research and development of the Evoluzione be for nought, Ferrari opted to use what they had learned as a basis for a new road car. The new car would be designated the F40 in celebration of the company’s 40 years of existence. The F40 was to become the last car to get Enzo Ferrari’s personal stamp of approval due to the company founder’s death in 1988.

The F40 debuted in 1987 with great fanfare. The car was visually striking with performance to match. With a base price of roughly $400,000 USD, the F40 was an instant collector’s item. A total of 1,311 F40’s were produced from 1987-1992. Many of the first F40’s were stored away and rarely driven, something Ferrari would take steps to discourage with their future supercars.

The F40 is powered by a 2.9 liter (2936 cc) twin turbo 32 valve V8, good for 478 hp and 425 ft-lbs of torque at 16 psi of boost. The reported top speed was 201 mph making it the fastest production car of its time.

The body was designed by Pininfarina with an emphasis on achieving a low drag coefficient.innovative materials such as kevlar, carbon-fiber, and aluminum were used throughout the F40 construction to provide strength and lightness. The final product resulted in a supercar weighing in at 2,400lbs. Even the heavy glass was replaced with lexan to reduce weight. The first 50 F40 have stationary door windows that have just a small, sliding window within the window. The rest of the cars were produced with standard roll-down windows.

The interior of the F40 is sparse by design. Being in the mindset of weight reduction, the F40 engineers left out amenities such as door handles, carpet, adjustable seats, leather trim, or a radio, but honestly, that exhaust note is all the music you could ever need.

Although the F40 was never intended to be a factory race car, that did not stop privateers from modifying their cars for racing. The earliest known privateer F40 to race in competition was driven by F1 ace Jean Alesi at Laguna Seca in the IMSA GTO class in 1989. The car came in third behind the two Audi 90 Quattros. The car would race in IMSA a few times in 1990 scoring second and third places. In Europe and Asia privateers were also successfully racing F40’s. Years after the road car production stopped in 1992, F40’s were still being developed for racing. Two racing developers were preparing F40’s for competition, Pilot-Aldix Racing, who called their cars the F40 LM, and Strandell, who named their cars the F40 GTE. Pilot-Aldix Racing was the more successful of the two builders, winning both endurance and sprint races during the years the cars were campaigned.

At the insistence of customers Ferrari produced a high output F40 for racing. The first two cars produced were called F40 LM’s. Ferrari felt that the LM designation was too restrictive for customers who wanted to compete in races other than Le Mans, so the remaining eight cars were christened the F40 Competizione. The upgrades included substantial, yet visually subtle downforce improvements, suspension upgrades, and a lot more pooooowwweeerrr. The Competizione version produced 700 hp and was capable of around 228 mph in factory trim.


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