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Sunday, 10 June 2012

Post 201 - Ferrari F40

Ferrari F40
Why is post #201 about the Ferrari F40? Because 1) It goes 201mph, 2) it's awesome, and 3) if you somehow haven't heard of it or don't know all about it, you desperately need educating. The last road car that Enzo Ferrari was alive to see, one of only two turbocharged Ferrari road cars ever (to reflect the Formula 1 engines of the time - maybe there'll be a turbo Ferrari after 2014?) and the first road car ever to break the fabled 200mph barrier, the Ferrari F40 is a landmark in supercar history, still considered by some to be the greatest supercar ever made. That should be reason enough, I reckon.

In 1984, Enzo Ferrari wanted to compete in Group B (a circuit series rather than Group B rallying) and beat the Porsche 959/961, but after making an 'Evoluzione' version of his then-halo car, the 288 GTO, the FIA decided to kill off the formula, leaving him with five new racing cars that had nothing to race in. So, he decided to take on the 959 road car instead, as well as the Lamborghini Countach. He knew the end of his days was drawing near, and it was approaching the company's 40th anniversary, so it had to be special. The 2.8-litre Twin-Turbo V8 was enlarged to 2.9 litres (2936cc to be precise), and was dropped inside an entirely new body designed with a strong focus on aerodynamics and featuring panels made of Kevlar, carbon fibre and aluminium.

The result was a lightweight car (~1100kg) punching out 470bhp and 426lb/ft of torque thanks to IHI turbochargers making 16psi of boost... and terrible turbo lag. Turbo lag is caused when the exhaust gases aren't flowing through the turbo fast enough, so it isn't compressing and forcing air back in at full capacity. When it does all start working properly, it happens very suddenly as the turbo springs into life. Needless to say, many black lines were left on the roads in Modena at the hands of the F40 - so called because it was launched in conjunction with Ferrari's 40th anniversary in 1987. The car became a legend, a poster child for boys in the '80s who didn't already have a Countach poster and a fitting car for its internal purpose of celebrating Enzo Ferrari and his amazing car company.

Fighting the technological tour de force of the Porsche 959 with light weight and racing technology/attitudes, the F40 could go from 0-60 in as little as 3.8 seconds, which is still supercar-fast today, as is a 0-100mph time of 7.6 seconds and 0-120mph (200km/h) in just 11 seconds. While the heavier Porsche could only manage 198mph, the F40 broke a world record and became the fastest road car in the world, achieving a top speed of 201mph. Not 200, 201. Very Italian. The aerodynamic body that got it there wasn't traditionally stylish (sound familiar?), but the exceptionally low nose, NACA ducts, numerous louvres and the pram-handle rear wing have become an iconic shape from the '80s and early '90s that the rounder F50 couldn't quite beat when it appeared 10 years later with a V12 and a body that now looks dated, even compared to the older F40. The three exhausts were an interesting touch - the outer two were connected to four cylinders each, while the smaller middle one was a wastegate for the turbos. All told, 1315 were produced from 1987-1992, all in red. The lively handling means that sadly, 25 years later, not all of them survive. Some were raced, after being modified into "LM" or "Competizione" versions, but never had massive success. Here's something for you to read about one that was for sale (opens in another tab).

The great ambassador for supercars, TopGear, adores the F40, calling it the greatest supercar ever made. As such, it's appeared frequently on the main show, and a few times besides in Jeremy Clarkson's numerous videos/DVDs. Here are some clips:
Happy Jeremy - 1/11/09, 3:12, 1,249,766 views (when posted)

Head-To-Head With the Porsche 959 - 20/7/11, 7:56, 550631 views (when posted)

[There should be a clip where he compares the supercars of 2004 (F60, Zonda S, Carrera GT) to supercars of the '80s, but very annoyingly, it's not on YouTube]

OK, so you get the idea. Here are a few pictures to go with it, of my second F40 in GT5, which is painted dark blue and looks surprisingly good. Click to embiggen.

Some wallpaper for you
Weirdly, the F40 had both fixed and pop-up headlights.
Pop-up headlights are very '80s, though, so it looks pretty cool, and suitably "Look at me" for a turbocharged Ferrari.
This car is child-friendly, in that there are many holes and grilles for you to peer through in order to see the oily bits that make the thunder.
This is what 470bhp (478PS) looked like in 1992.
And so there it is. Regular posts to follow soon-ish.

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