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Friday, July 28, 2017

Ferrari Celebrates 30th Anniversary of the F40

Thirty years have passed since the launch of one of the most iconic childhood hero cars of all time: the Ferrari F40. And to celebrate its milestone, Ferrari looked back at the last car to carry Enzo Ferrari’s “signature.”

Considered as the ultimate expression of technology by Ferrari, it was a masterpiece of style and engineering; a symbol of the era. More than that, it went back to the company’s roots: when they treated road cars as racing cars. It’s an extreme derivation of the 308 GTB and 288 GTO Evoluzione prototype.

“No one, except for close associates of Enzo Ferrari, had yet seen it. Indeed, the company had cloaked the development and testing of that car in unusual secrecy. And the surprise at such a stylistic leap was almost shock. The timeframe was also unusual, within the very short arc of 13 months, the chassis and bodywork moving ahead quickly and at the same pace as the powertrain,” recalled Ermanno Bonfiglioli, Head of Ferrari Special Projects.

Codenamed Project F 120 A, the F40 carried a V8 engine packing a twin-turbo. A derivative of the 288 GTO Evoluzione’s, it produced 478 horsepower enough for a top speed in excess of 320 km/h. Apart from the sheer grunt of the engine, attention was paid to the engine’s weight. It extensively used magnesium on areas like the oil sump, cylinder head covers, intake manifolds, and gearbox bell-housing. It cost five times the typical material used at the time: aluminum alloy. In fact, Ferrari said they’ve never used magnesium in such quantities in subsequent production cars.

Meanwhile, Leonardo Fioravanti, a designer at Pininfarina recalled how Enzo Ferrari approached him to produce a true Ferari.

“We knew, as he knew, that it would be his last car. We threw ourselves headlong into the work. Extensive research at the wind tunnel went into aerodynamic optimization, to achieve coefficients appropriate for the most powerful Ferrari road car ever,” he recalled.

The result is a distinctive style that matched its performance: a low hood with a very small overhang, the NACA air vents, and the rear spoiler. Indeed, the F40’s lines succeeded because of its technical approach to design that had three qualities: speed, lightness, and performance.

Countless tests were also done to make sure the F40’s handling was up to par. In fact, the first prototypes handled poorly because taming the power of the engine was difficult. The arduous and meticulous tuning and testing did result in a masterpiece.

In the end, the Ferrari F40 produced excellent aerodynamic load and stability even at high speed. Another important aspect was the tubular steel frame with Kevlar reinforcement panels, which provided three times more torsional rigidity than other Ferraris at the time. There were few comforts and no compromises as well: no power steering, no power brakes, or electronic devices. The curb weight was a svelte 1,100 kilograms. It was precisely the car Ferrari wanted.

The Ferrari F40 paved the way for other super high-performance cars (now known today as hypercars). However, most still agree that the F40 provides a unique driving experience that demanded the skill and commitment of its driver.

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