Thirty years ago today, on July 21, 1987, Ferrari pulled the veil from one of its greatest ever road cars: the F40.
The F40 was rolled out during a special presentation at the Civic Centre in Maranello, which is now home to the Ferrari Museum. The twin-turbocharged flagship was built to mark Ferrari’s 40th anniversary and was the last all-new car it unveiled before Enzo Ferrari’s passing the next summer. When work on the F40 began, Enzo’s health was already deteriorating, so both he and the engineering team behind the car knew it would be the last new Ferrari he’d see.
“I have never experienced a presentation like that of the F40,” said head of Ferrari special projects at the time, Ermanno Bonfiglioli. “When the car was unveiled, a buzz passed through the room followed by thunderous applause. 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.”
The F40 is today seen as supercar royalty, but it didn’t achieve that status over time. Because of Enzo’s condition, the F40 was considered an instant collectible when it launched. Most of the cars were bought as investments and in some cases they sold for seven times their list price. That’s not to say it couldn’t perform, however. It was the fastest car in the world for a brief period with a top speed of 199 mph. Furthermore, its low weight of 3,019 lbs ensured it was extremely lively and athletic through the corners. Its lack of power steering and electronic aids made it a handful, but that only meant it was rewarding to drive. Take it from longtime Ferrari test driver Dario Benuzzi:
“We obtained precisely the car we wanted, with few comforts and no compromises,” he recalls. “With no power steering, power brakes or electronic devices, it demands the skill and commitment of the driver but generously repays it with a unique driving experience.”
Ferrari has celebrated the 30th anniversary of the F40’s debut with a gallery of in-period photos depicting the F40s launch and development. Additionally, an F40 will also be on display at the Ferrari Museum of Maranello as part of the automaker’s “Under the Skin” exhibition, which is devoted to the evolution of innovation and style over the course of its 70-year history. It’s the least the automaker could do for a car that continues to lend itself to Ferrari’s image of making some of the world’s most engaging and visceral road cars.
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