32 Years ago Ferrari launched what would later become one of the most significant supercars ever, the F40. Originally destined to compete against the Porsche 959 in Group B Rally which due to safety concerns group B was dropped in 1986, however, this thankfully didn’t stop Ferrari. The F40 was so close to a race car I think its only the number plate that separates it from being one.
The sleek Pininfarina penned body was designed to be light and using high tech composites like kevlar, carbon fibre and plenty of aluminium it allowed the F40 to tip the scales at a low 1100kg(dry). To put that weight into perspective it’s about the same as your average supermini. Ferrari went to extremes with the weight saving regime, there was no sound system, door handles, glovebox, carpets and door handles even the first 50 cars had sliding Lexan windows!. A basic aircon system was included which I am sure was quite a welcome feature especially on hotter days.
Performance of the F40 was staggering in its day and it held the top speed record for production cars in 1987, it was the first car to break the 200mph barrier. A 2.9l V8 with twin IHI turbos churned out 351kw and 577nm of torque pushing you into your seat as it sprints to 100kmh in a respectable 4.6 seconds. In 1987 4.6 seconds would be considered blistering, but by today’s standards, it would be trumped by a four-door saloon like an M3. all the power is put down via massive 335 section rear tyres which were probably not enough given the tyre technology of the era. Only five cogs were provided by the manual gearbox.
In early tests, the car was known to be quite a visceral experience, especially when compared to the 959, its raw unfiltered race nature ever-present. It was not comfortable by any stretch of the imagination but in the right conditions like a smooth racetrack, it was one of the most rewarding vehicles to drive. With such stringent safety, today’s cars will probably never be so bare and mechanical.