Even though it made extensive use of racing car technology and would later compete in its LM and Competizione incarnations, the F40 was very much a road vehicle first and foremost, unlike the 288 GTO, which had been built with Group B in mind. The F40 was officially created to commemorate Ferrari’s 40th anniversary, but in actuality, it was an Italian salute of two fingers to the Porsche 959. While the Porsche 288 was a highly coveted vehicle, it outperformed the Ferrari in terms of performance, therefore Maranello intervened to reclaim the title of the fastest automobile in the world from Stuttgart.
The Ferrari F40 is a mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive sports car with Pininfarina’s style. It was created by Nicola Materazzi. The LM and GTE race vehicle models remained in production until 1994 and 1996, respectively, throughout their construction from 1987 to 1992. It served as the 288 GTO’s successor and was the final Ferrari vehicle that Enzo Ferrari personally approved. The 288 GTO was also engineered by Materazzi and created to commemorate Ferrari’s 40th anniversary. It was Ferrari’s fastest, most potent, and most expensive vehicle available for purchase at the time.
The Ferrari F40 Design & Specs
Pietro Camardella created the F40’s body while working under the direction of Aldo Brovarone, who will shortly retire. In the meantime, Nicola Materazzi improved the car’s engine, transmission, and other mechanical components to make them safe for the road. The 288 GTO Evoluzione, from which the F40 derives many aesthetic aspects, provided solid validation for many of these. Enzo Ferrari requested that the automobile be finished in a brisk 11 months from the start of the project on June 10 and unveiled in the summer of 1987. He permitted Materazzi to select each engineer on the team for this purpose.
Some of the car’s development, notably the bodywork, was done by other businesses with expertise in rally and racing preparation, like Michelotto Automobili (Stratos, GTO Evo, subsequently 333SP, 348, 355, 360, 430, 458).
Suspension, Torque & Power
The IHI four-stroke 90-degree twin-turbocharged and intercooler V8 engine used in the 288 GTO was enlarged and had a high revving displacement of 2,936 ccs (2.9 L; 179.2 cu in). According to the manufacturer, this engine’s maximum power output was 478 PS (471 hp; 352 kW) at 7,000 rpm and its maximum torque was 577 Nm (426 lb-ft) at 4,000 rpm.
The cars had different gearing, torque curves, and real power output. Catalytic converters were optional on the F40 until 1990 when US regulations made them necessary for emissions control. The middle pipe transports gasses discharged from the wastegate of the turbochargers, while the flanking exhaust pipes direct exhaust gasses from each bank of cylinders.
Ferrari F40, 1991 (US Spec)
Although many components were upgraded and settings were altered, the suspension setup was similar to the GTO’s double wishbone setup. The unusually low ground clearance led Ferrari to include the capability to raise the vehicle’s ground clearance when necessary for later cars via hydraulic lift chambers in the front dampers.
The Ferrari F40 Interior and Exterior
Pininfarina created a whole new body for it, using panels made of Kevlar, carbon fiber, and aluminum for strength and lightness, as well as extensive aerodynamic testing. The adoption of windows and a windshield made of polycarbonate plastic significantly reduced weight. Despite lacking a sound system, door handles, a glove box, leather trim, carpets, or door panels, the cars did feature some air conditioning. The first 50 vehicles had wind-down windows, whereas later vehicles had sliding Lexan windows.
Technically, all vehicles were left-hand drive and painted “Rosso Corsa” when they left the factory. The Sultan of Brunei received at least seven customized vehicles that were delivered in right-hand drive. Paolo Garella, prototype manager at Pininfarina, was hired by the Sultan to modify the vehicles (color, power, interior comforts).
The forced induction engine produced a lot of heat, therefore cooling was crucial. The result was that the car had a body and looked somewhat like an open-wheel racing vehicle. Although it had a second undertray with diffusers behind the engine and a partial undertray to smooth airflow beneath the radiator, front section, and cabin, the engine bay was not completely sealed. Cd=0.34 is the drag coefficient.
A new tire had to be created to handle the vehicle’s increased power, which was generally only found in racing cars and was 80 bhp more than the 288 GTO. Materazzi drew on his positive working relationship with Pirelli’s head of development Mario Mezzanotte, whom he had known since the Lancia rallying days. After learning from the Formula 1 seasons from 1980 to 1985, Pirelli developed a carcass using lightweight materials (including Kevlar) and uneven tread patterns to build the P-Zero, particularly for the F40.
The Ferrari F40 Release Date & Promotion
On July 21, 1987, in the Civic Center in Maranello, the F40 was unveiled. According to Materazzi, the unveiling was originally scheduled for the Frankfurt auto show, but FIAT had to exhibit the Alfa Romeo 164 there, and the two events would have conflicted. Due to Enzo Ferrari’s request, the introduction was delayed by more than two months. The car took 13 months to develop from the project’s inception (in June 1986) until its introduction. The advertising of the vehicle was caught on camera for a documentary that featured footage of Enzo Ferrari’s earlier interviews, factory operations, and the F40 driving around Modena’s streets. For a Christmas 1987 special show for the Italian TV and journalist Ezio Zermiani, F1 driver Michele Alboreto drove the vehicle on multiple occasions. The vehicle was filmed traveling from Maranello to Milan.