5 February 2019

More than an old car #93: Ferrari F40

Back in 2017, I had the chance to go for a classic car exhibition held at Marina Bay Sands: I had chanced upon it by accident and naturally, I was compelled to go for it. It was a sight to behold when I arrived, but nothing prepared me for the moment when I saw this 1989 Ferrari F40 in the flesh! Over the years I had heard of this legend, and that day, I was struck dumb at this living, breathing creature in front of me...

The F40 was first produced in 1987 and it was to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Ferrari. Enzo Ferrari, then the chairman of his namesake company, desired to create a performance car amidst customers' complaints that Ferrari models were getting too comfortable (seriously?). As a result, intensive research was done to devise a road-legal racing machine, to add on to the fame generated by the 288 GTO that was designed previously.

The body was made of a combination of Kevlar, carbon fibre and aluminum which provided strength and low weight. It took its styling cues from the renowned Lamborghini Countach, and the final result featured a lowered front end, air ducts at the side to boost airflow, and its distinctive spoiler which kept the car straight at high speeds. Personally, it looks so pleasing from all angles: I am a sucker for wedge-shaped cars and there is this feeling that the F40 is barely containing its aggressiveness...and the headlights look so natural!

With the mid-engine layout, the rear of the car would open like a shell and the transparent Plexiglas cover enable one to admire the intricacies of the engine. To lighten up the car further, various accessories such as door handles, radio and sound system were stripped. Air-con was still included to combat the intense heat from the engine right behind the driver. Extensive road and track tests were carried out from 1985 until it was unveiled to the public.

Initial reviews were mixed: it looked great but it was not a very nice vehicle to drive around in. The F40 was described as a 'go-kart with a plastic body', having poor rear-view visibility and being mechanically unreliable. It was powered by a 2936 cc Tipo F120 V8 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 324 km/h with an acceleration of 4.1 seconds [0-100 km/h]. It was 4358 mm long, 1123 mm high and weighed 1100 kg.

Initially, Ferrari planned to make only 400 units, with a selling price of $400,000. Due to the death of Enzo in 1989, the resulting speculations drove up the price into the millions. Thus, Ferrari capitalised on the increased perceived value and proceeded to make 1337 cars in total, which was considered common by supercar standards. All were in LHD and as a result, cannot be registered in Singapore. There is another unit here, as a garage queen of course, but you can see it near the Tanglin area.

The F40 has become the benchmark of Ferrari performance and due to the fact that it appeared in many racing games in the 1990s, it was a fantasy of many impressionable children. It often occupied a prime spot in many bedrooms and is an integral part of the Prancing Horse's identity today. It is not everyday that you get to see such a famous icon, so do check it out if you are able to!

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