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As one of the most sought-after supercars of its generation, 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 the UK’s Classic & Sports Car magazine, and he reveled 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 stratospheric price tag of approximately $400,000 – that 1,315 F40s were built by the time production ceased in 1992. American Ferrari enthusiasts had to wait until 1990 for the chance to own one, and yet only 213 F40s were ever built for the US market.
Originally delivered by Cavallino Classics in Scottsdale, Arizona, this stunning US-specification example from 1992 is the 199th example of 213 US-spec cars built and has benefited from a well-documented service history. While the first owner is unknown, by 2002, records show the F40 was in the hands of noted Ferrari collector Michael Bruno Jr. of Armonk, New York, with approximately 7,000 miles on the odometer. In 2005, the Ferrari was purchased by the consignor, a longstanding Ferrari Club of America member, who immediately serviced the fabulous supercar to ready it for what would be 10 years of careful use and stewardship. While in the current owner’s care, the Ferrari has received two major services that included the changing of the all-important timing belts, with the most recent timing belt service made in October of last year at 12,682 miles. All recent service work was done by authorized dealer Wide World Ferrari Maserati in Spring Valley, New York, and is documented in the accompanying file.
This F40 is a prime example of a revered supercar model that has been lauded since introduction by the press and owners alike. Certified by Ferrari’s Classiche department, this F40 comes with the highly desirable Red Book, as well as its original owner’s handbooks, tool roll, and an impressive file containing service records and assorted model-specific literature.
Among the very last of the 213 US-specification models, 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.