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Coachwork by Scaglietti
Firmly ranking high on many “best of” lists, Ferrari’s F40 was the inspired by-product of a 1984 program to develop an improved 288 GTO. This initiative was intended to counter the rising threat from Porsche’s 959 in FIA Group B rally competition. However, the lethal nature of this escalating automotive arms race ultimately spurred Group B’s 1986 cancellation, which occurred before the high-tech gladiators from Maranello and Stuttgart could face each other for supremacy.
Undeterred, Ferrari continued work on the five already-built 288 GTO Evoluzione development cars and redesigned them into hyper-performance 200 mph road examples to celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary.
Introduced at Frankfurt in 1987 and named “F40,” Ferrari’s new body was a tour de force by Pininfarina’s Leonardo Fioravanti and blended aggressively functional lines with incredibly efficient aerodynamics, yielding a low (0.34) drag coefficient.
The F40 technical brief sounds current even today, with a race-bred tubular space-frame chassis, fully independent underpinnings, including double wishbones, coil-over shock absorbers, and ventilated disc brakes with four-piston calipers at each corner. Kevlar, carbon fiber, and aluminum body panels reduced weight by 20%, while increasing structural rigidity threefold over the 288 GTO. The 2.9-liter V-8 engine delivered 478 bhp at 7,000 rpm with twin IHI turbochargers and twin Behr air-to-air intercoolers.
While the specifications of the F40 conjure vivid images, few have experienced it as intended. Among those who have, five-time Le Mans champion driver Derek Bell MBE tested an F40 for a supercar comparison test conducted during the mid-2000s by UK’s Classic & Sports Car magazine and revelled in the experience. Summing up his drive in the F40, Bell stated: “It’s just magnificent with bags of character once you grab it by the horns. This is a car to make your hair curl. The power delivery is sensational and I love the way the turbos come on with such a rush. Very quickly the situation changes from neutral understeer to amazing oversteer, but it’s all superbly predictable.”
While the initial production planning called for about 400 examples, market demand was so overwhelming – even with the car’s then stratospheric price tag of approximately $400,000 – that 1,315 F40s were built by the time production ceased in 1991.
American Ferrari enthusiasts, however, had to wait until 1990 for the chance to own one. With such strong demand, US-specification cars traded at significant premiums of many thousands of dollars above their list price in the heady supercar market of the era. Only 213 F40s were built for the US market.
Originally delivered by Lake Forest Sports Cars in Chicago, this US-specification example from 1991 has traveled less than 2,500 miles from new. With a factory-fresh appearance only attainable from minimal use, this F40 is a prime example of the revered supercar. Certified by Ferrari’s Classiche department, the F40 comes with the highly desirable Red Book that confirms the car is as it left the factory.
A documented maintenance history culminates in November of last year, when the F40 was comprehensively serviced by Ferrari specialist Miller Motorcars of Greenwich, Connecticut. The receipt for this work, which totals over $10,400 and accompanies the car, shows the replacement of all fluids, spark plugs, air filters, and the all-important timing belts, tensioners, and associated seals and gaskets. Additionally, the car received a multi-point inspection and all other issues found were addressed at this time. Previously, a Tubi exhaust was fitted to add to the experience while driving this Ferrari, but the original exhaust system accompanies the car.
The complete and unused set of original fitted luggage is included in the original cotton bags, as is the tool kit, owner’s booklet folder, and car cover. As such, this F40 stands tall as both a fitting exemplar of the last road car of the Enzo Ferrari era from Maranello and a lasting tribute to Il Commendatore.