Happy 30th, Ferrari F40

Posted on August 09, 2017

THE car last signed off by the late Enzo Ferrari is now 30 years old.

Ferrari F40 was a thinly disguised race car for the road -- its cabin included nothing that would not make the car go fast.
On July 21, 1987 the Ferrari F40 was presented in Maranello, Italy, to celebrate the company’s 30th anniversary. At the time, the car was billed as the “ultimate expression of the technology thus far developed” by the Prancing Horse brand, even as it recalled the era when Ferrari’s racing cars were also road cars.

For the F40’s 30th anniversary Ferrari gathered together three of its creators -- Ermanno Bonfiglioli, then head of special projects, Pinifarina designer Leonardo Fioravanti, and test-driver Dario Benuzzi. Here are their memories of the car:

“The company had cloaked the development and testing of the car. It was in June 1986 when we began designing the engine of the Project F 120 A [the F40’s working name]. The eight-cylinder, 478hp twin-turbo was a derived from the 288 GTO Evoluzione, but a number of innovative contents enabled the F40 to become the first production Ferrari to exceed 320kph. We paid extreme attention to the weight of the engine, and used magnesium for the oil sump, cylinder head covers, intake manifolds, and gearbox bell housing. This is just a small example of this car’s ‘difference.’”

“When il Commendatore [the term by which people addressed Enzo Ferrari] asked for my opinion on this experimental prototype, I didn’t hide my enthusiasm as an amateur driver. It was then that he first talked to me of his desire to produce a ‘true Ferrari.’ We knew, as he knew, that it would be his last car. Extensive research at the wind tunnel went into aerodynamic optimization to achieve coefficients appropriate for the most powerful Ferrari road car ever. Its style matches its performance -- the low bonnet with a very tiny overhang, the NACA air vents and the rear spoiler, made it famous.”

“The handling of the first prototypes was poor. To tame the power of the engine and make it compatible with a road model, we needed to subject every aspect of the car to countless tests -- from the turbochargers to the braking system, from the shock absorbers to the tires. The result was an excellent aerodynamic load and high stability. Another important aspect was the tubular steel frame with Kevlar reinforcement panels, which provides three times more torsional rigidity than that of other cars of the period, and a bodywork made mainly of composite materials that reduced weight to just 1,100 kilograms.”