Today we are testing a car that is 24 years old; lacks air conditioning, a radio, carpets or even proper windows that open and close. The only creature comforts you will find here are whats left of road-kill under the tyres. Don’t go thinking 1987 was a period of time where we were still running around with spears catching dinner, oh no, all of the above could be found in many cars. So if this machine is so lacking why am I about to hail it as the greatest supercar ever created? Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the Ferrari F40.
This machine is not merely a method of provoking an adrenaline rush, no, what the F40 represents is a life changing event on wheels. Built to celebrate Ferrari’s 40th anniversary the car was a beacon that set trends in the automotive world forever. It was the first completely carbon fibre car, it would do 201MPH and the engineering genius under the skin was direct from Ferrari’s illustrious racing history. Initially only 400 units were to be produced but demand for the car was so great that the Italian company ended up producing 1,315. The F40 is powered by a 3.0 litre twin-turbo V8 that can churn out an explosive 478BHP. That is a vast sum even by todays standards! But it isn’t the numbers or the reputation of this car that makes it so special…
You see I am a firm believer in performance cars being pure engineering that not only propels the driver to biblical speeds but also gets them involved in the process. These days, no matter the brand be it Ferrari, Lamborghini .etc, the performance is fantastic but in many cases you feel somewhat detached from the machine as its sequential gearbox clicks away and the ABS prevents any real danger. Even hitting the off button wont disengage all of the electronic systems as the manufacturer wants to protect your investment just as much as you do. Don’t get me wrong, they don’t kill the experience but in many cases it just makes it feel a bit artificial. Ferrari are a clear case and example as they are renowned for their ability to provoke an emotion from the driver, but today its more about the thrill and not hitting that tree. The F40 however was made in the days before health and safety so driver aids are completely absent. This is raw performance.
A Ferrari should scare you. There has to be that near indescribable twinge just before you turn the key and this being the last car Enzo Ferrari had a hand in building you had better believe that this sensation is there from start to finish. Bringing life to this beast will literally obliterate the eardrums of any living thing within a quarter of a mile. It does’t politely hum at idle like its modern day counterparts. It gargles, spits and booms making its presence very well known and likely causing some form of seismic activity beneath your feet. Not that you would notice an earthquake as you are now staring down the barrel of a bright red loaded gun.
This machine in motion is breathtaking as it dives into corners with no hesitation and upon exiting the apex the turbo’s hurtle the car far off into the distance. There is no hesitation, no understeer, it is precise, crisp, a precision tool of performance perfection. You are working just as hard as the car, feeling the involvement and connection to every gear change, every input to the wheel. It is nothing short of a masterpiece! You can tell that the foundations of the F40 were built on a road going racer and not a road car with racing adaptations. The power is relentless and your heart will pound every bit as quick as this cars eight pistons from start to finish.
Yes the cabin is cramped. Yes if you do have an accident you are very likely to die. And yes, upholstery is a mystery to this car. But do remember that it never set out to please people in those ways and clearly it makes no apologies for it. What it does do however is provide the world with a unique experience of what true honest to god engineering can do in the hands of the Italians. 24 years ago the F40 was at the top of its game, today it still defines the breed.