1990 Ferrari F40 Berlinetta

Coachwork by Pininfarina

“…When I’ve been asked to name my favourite steer, as motoring journalists are with the same sort of frequency that you brush your teeth, I’ve always automatically parroted ‘F40’. When it came out in 1987, the F40 was the fastest car in the world, quicker and more powerful than its rival the Porsche 959, and the first car ever to have a three-digit top speed which began with a ‘2’…But soon the time came to find out whether reality matched the memory or whether the F40 was now no more than a nice old thing with a bit of poke.”

“It is nothing of the sort…This is not symphonic like the best Ferrari V12s- it is flat plane crank savage but no less intoxicating for that… For once my memory had not been playing tricks on me. The only thing which feels old about the F40 is the level of interaction it affords the driver. I took it back, aghast that my time in it was over and wondering when, if ever, it might come again. It had been every bit as good as I remembered: not just the best Ferrari I have driven, but the best car, period.” Andrew Frankel, MotorSport magazine, June 2007.

Announced in 1987 to celebrate Enzo Ferrari’s forty years as a carmaker, the 200mph F40 was the ultimate supercar of its generation. Inevitably, comparisons were made with the rival Porsche 959, but whereas its German rival represented a cutting-edge, technological tour de force, the F40 exemplified traditional Ferrari values. A relatively straightforward car, the F40 relied on enormous power, low weight, race-bred suspension, generously sized tyres and excellent aerodynamics to achieve a level of performance even better than that of the infinitely more complex 959.

Developed from the limited-production 288GTO, the F40 was a two- seater, mid-engined coupé that mounted its V8 power unit longitudinally in the chassis (rather than transversely like the 308/
328) a layout that greatly simplified the accommodation of the twin water-cooled IHI turbochargers. Enlarged from the 288GTO’s 2,855cc to 2,936cc for the F40, the four-cam, 32-valve motor produced 478bhp at 7,000rpm, some 20 percent up on the 288.

In one of its aspects the F40 did rival the 959 for innovation, and that was the method of body/ chassis construction, which represented a new departure for a Ferrari road car. Drawing on Ferrari’s considerable experience in the use of composite technology in Formula 1, the F40 chassis comprised a tubular steel spaceframe with bonded-on panels of Kevlar, resulting in torsional stiffness greatly exceeding that of a metal-only structure without the penalty of excess weight. Carbon fibre was used for the doors, bonnet, boot lid and other removable panels.

Using a wind tunnel and computer projection, Pininfarina produced a body that generated sufficient downforce without excessive drag, while avoiding the aerodynamic excrescences that adorn so many out-and-out competition cars. Nevertheless, there was no mistaking the pugnaciously styled F40’s antecedents as one climbed inside, the body- contoured seats, absence of carpeting and trim, and simple, lightweight door pulls only serving to re-enforce its image as a thinly disguised race car.

History has shown that with most great production cars, the earliest and purest, or the last and most evolved models, are those which rise over time to become the most desirable. In the case of the F40, which twenty years after its launch is now well established as an iconic supercar (Jeremy Clarkson placed it ahead of the Ferrari Enzo for driver satisfaction during a recent Top Gear programme), the latter examples are those fitted with catalytic converters and, more importantly, the so-called adjustable suspension, an option which became available during the final phase of production from 1990 onwards. This practical device simply means that the nose of the car may be raised by means of a button on the dashboard, allowing the driver to negotiate everyday obstacles such as speed bumps or inclines. It’s not essential but, as anyone who has driven an F40 regularly will tell you, it’s useful.

This late specification F40 boasts adjustable suspension and catalysts. It was supplied new in December 1990 to Spanish collector Gustavo Gimenez and remained in his hands, between his homes in Spain and Venezuela and Ferrari (Suisse) in Geneva who maintained and stored it, until 2006 when sold via Kidston SA to the present British owner. Other than one exhilarating drive from London to Geneva the car has remained largely unused: the total mileage is currently 17,432km. In the present ownership the F40 has been serviced by main Ferrari agent Modena Cars in Geneva and in 2005 new fuel tanks were fitted by Ferrari of Madrid; a file of maintenance invoices on file documents work carried out. As far as we are aware the car has never been crashed nor driven on the track and its appearance, to all intents and purposes, is virtually ‘showroom fresh’. The factory carbon fibre weave is still visible under the paint on the front bonnet (which presents a couple of small indents visible from a certain angle) and the front rubber spoiler lip is in good condition. The wheels are all excellent with very minor scuffing on the right hand ones. Inside the carbon fibre floors are good as are both seats, and the headlining (which often sags with age) is smooth and unmarked, as is the cloth covered dashboard. The engine bay is tidy, as is the front luggage compartment where the various drivers accessories are housed. The engine starts readily and sounds as it should (the standard factory exhaust is fitted) and the adjustable suspension was found to be working correctly when tested. The brake discs show very slight hairlines appearing from the ventilation holes but we understand they are within normal tolerances. The tyres show relatively little wear but have not been replaced recently. The clutch was replaced 2,000km ago and is believed to need nothing.

The car is UK registered and comes with its owners handbooks in their wallet and factory tools. A ‘no stories’ F40 with documented history, well cared for and steadily appreciating.