There are many fine cars in the world, and many happy automakers, but few who see the dream of reaching the pinnacle of their mechanical art in their lifetime. Enzo Ferrari created beautiful dream machines for decades, but it was this, the 1987 Ferrari F40 that he considered to be the creme of his crop. He said as much when he introduced it to a crowd of reporters at Maranello's civic center for the first time. The '87 F40 was and remains one of the most iconic and stunning examples of Ferrari craftsmanship ever created.
According to the October 1987 issue of Road & Track, even Mr. Ferrari himself was blown away by the lithe and curvaceous beauty if this machine. There are cars that go fast enough to take your breath away, and cars that can leave you breathless without ever turning their engines on. The 1987 F40 is one of the latter, though to be fair, it belongs solidly in both categories. Though no one knew it at the time, it was to be the last car he presented in person because he passed away the same year it came out. This alone has added value in mystique to the already excellent vehicle.
Enzo himself reportedly said the following as the cover was pulled back and the car could finally be seen, though he didn't know his microphone was still on at the time:
"Bello, molto bello!" (It means "Beautiful, very beautiful") -Signore Enzo Ferrari at the 1987 debut of the F40
What Made the F40 Different
Let us begin with the name. All names are significant, even when expressed only as letters and numbers forming no words. The F40 was designed to be the best, but not merely for the sake of ego. It is an anniversary edition. Specifically, the F40 is the fortieth anniversary car from Ferrari. Four decades of creating anything is no small accomplishment, and when the 'thing' you create is among the most celebrated in the world, it is all the more incredible.
From 1987 to 1992, while the car was in production, they initially only intended to make 388 of the model. However, due to the F40s incredible popularity, and probably also because of Enzo Ferrari's unfortunate passing, they actually made 1200 of these astounding machines. He even signed a few or the models. At Coys auction at the 43rd AVD Oldtimer Grand Prix in Nurburgring, Germany one of the cars took a record €1.12 million ($1.22 million) in 1992. The reason for the unusually high price was because it was the last one he put his name on.
With its streamlined looks and that iconic rear spoiler, the Ferrari F40 is probably the exact image in most car lover's heads when they think about everything a Ferrari should be. Though they've since been outstripped, every component in the '87 F40 was top of the line and cutting edge automotive technology at the time it was issued. It's no wonder the value of these cars continues to climb.
In addition to being Enzo's dream and the fortieth anniversary car, there was another reason for pushing so hard to become peerless in its field. Porsche was the main competition for the Ferrari, and the rivalry was, at times, intense. The Porsche 959 had just hit the markets. Despite its fame and renown, the 959 was a disaster of epic proportions. Delays in production and other troubles plagued the famous Porsche, which had debuted as a concept back in 1983. That was all the window Enzo and the Ferrari team needed to slide into first place despite the enormous technological leaps made by Porsche.
A wonder in more ways than one, the Ferrari F40 requires a technical eye to appreciate truly, but it's alright if you love it for its Pininfarina body. Most people do. Still, it's what you'll find under the hood, the details, that really make the model superb.
- What body style? Two door fixed-head coupé with two seats
- How long? 4430 mm
- How heavy? 1100 kg
- What size engine? 2.9 liter, 2936 cm3
- How many cylinders? V8
- How much power? 478 PS / 471 bhp / 351 kW @ 7000 rpm
- How much torque? 577 Nm / 426 ft.lb / 58.8 km @ 4000 rpm
- How quick? 0-60 mph: 3.8 s
- How fast? 324 km/h, 201 mph
- How economical? 8.6/9.7/19.2 l/100km 90km/h / 120km/h / urban
As you can see, this car is every bit as fast as it looks. Everything Ferrari had learned in a lifetime of building elegantly handsome speedy sports cars went into this triumphant debut. For a man of ninety, that's a lot of knowledge, and it certainly got put to use.
If you're going to buy a Ferrari, and who wouldn't if given a chance, then a signed 1987 Ferrari F40 should be at the top of your list. There's no way to express the beauty and excellence of this car if you haven't seen it in person. Pictures, while lovely, fall far short of the awe of turning the key and hearing the engine as you feel the F40 come alive around you. Sitting in the driver's seat, you can feel the weight of Enzo's passion for his company in every polished surface. There's nothing like it in the world. If you're ever lucky enough to hold the title of this car in your hands, you are carrying a piece of an enduring legacy that grows and prospers to this day. Be reverent, but not too cautious since this car was made to move, and wave as you blow past us on the asphalt.
Written by Benjamin Smith
Read more posts by Benjamin Smith