Market Watch: Ferrari F40

Content

Why do I need one?

The Ferrari F40, possibly one of the most exciting and revered road cars ever built, was the last model signed off by the legendary Enzo Ferrari himself. Considered by many to be a ‘still-born’ race car, the DNA of the F40 can be traced back to Group B racing regulations via the 288 GTO Evoluzione, upon which some of the underpinning of the car was based. As the great Enzo’s last hurrah, and reputedly a sharp response to the Porsche 959, the lithe and overtly styled F40 was revealed at Maranello in 1987, during Ferrari’s 40th year. One can only imagine that the reception from customers and journalists alike would have been ecstatic. In fact interest was much higher than anticipated and so eventual build numbers increased.

The phrase ‘race car for the road’ can never be more appropriate than for the minimalist F40. Pininfarina’s dramatic, purposeful looks seem to barely contain the car’s racing ambition, wrapping thinly painted and lightweight carbon fibre bodywork across a sinew shape straight from a 12 year old’s sketch book.

The sparse, race derived interior with bucket seats and exposed carbon fibre reeks of atmosphere and provides an epic view backwards through a plexiglass rear cover into the wild 2.9L twin-turbo water-cooled engine. Thanks to a very favourable power to weight ratio, and a complete lack of electronic driver aids, the available performance requires complete respect and offers a unique driving experience that is mesmeric to enthusiasts of 3 pedal cars. In 1988 the acceleration for this car would have been mind blowing, as would the realisation of this first production car to exceed the magic 200mph barrier.

Made in relatively low production numbers and with an obsessional following, many consider this the ultimate driver's car.  Whatever your personal tastes this has to be a car to consider for the serious collector and enthusiast alike.

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Which F40 do I need?

Official line from the factory was that the F40 was only available in left hand drive configuration and in 'Rosso Corsa' red, however there were some especially favoured customers permitted to order right hand drive and a variety of colours and interior trims reputedly at more than twice the price of a standard car, some of these 7 RHD models are believed to reside here in the UK.

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The first fifty (or so)

As with many iconic cars, collectors and enthusiasts obsess over early cars and what they were supplied with, and, crucially supplied without.  Typically, early cars benefit from a pure and desirable spec. In this case, the first 50 or so cars were supplied without a catalytic convertor, with non adjustable suspension and with special order sliding lexan (plastic) windows, making this the configuration choice of collectors. Actually it is not so clean cut as many cars were provided from the factory with glass windows and subsequently changed, and factory records show more than 50 cars being specified with Lexan. Other features such as red door inserts or special materials for interior can also be seen on some early models but as build practices changed over time and regulations tightened in 1991, many changes were made including addition of catalytic convertors and perhaps the builds became more standard.

While the ‘non cat non adjustable suspension lexan’ cars are in theory more cherished by the collector, the wise buyer should be most concerned by condition. 

Homing in on Specification

The nature of the F40 and it’s old school turbo power delivery means that many of these cars have had a brush or worse with the scenery. Also relevant is that the market was not kind to these cars in the 90’s and early 2000’s meaning that many cars may have been underinvested in for long periods and / or laid up in collections with patchy history.

As a hand-made car, many parts have a body number stamped into them including the front and rear clams and the doors.  Consequently, if the car has had any panels changed this is quite easy to check, if you know where to look. Many of the suspension parts also have factory marks on them meaning it is relatively easy to determine if they have been changed. Cars of this period do not have multiple ECU and computers to store or cross check mileage, and as prices are so mileage sensitive it is prudent to look carefully through the history. As always with a car of this value, buying from a trusted dealer and securing an independent inspection from a marque specialist is essential. 

When looking at the body, the topic of carbon weave is likely to arise - the initial paintwork was so thin that the carbon weave was visible through it. Some cars were returned to dealers when new to be repainted. Some have had remedial paint over the years as required and as production continued more paint was added so some later cars do not have weave showing so much. Do not be put off immediately if a car you are looking at does not have any weave visible, there could be a very reasonable explanation for it. 

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What to Pay

With little variation to choose from in specification, F40s mainly vary in condition and mileage.  The market ranges from £600,000 for high mileage or ‘story’ cars to carefully maintained low mileage trailer queens at £1,400,000. Whatever your budget try to buy the best one you can and spend as much as you can and it will reward you as time goes on and the cream rises to the top. GS prediction is that these cars will continue to appreciate over the long term. 

Ultra rare race specific variants the LM and Competizione models trade hands, albeit rarely, for 3 to 4 times this.

Conclusion

A seminal model that was the poster car for the 80s, one of the top hits of the Ferrari back catalogue. A car that has managed to span the generations and as such is revered by collectors of all ages and backgrounds. As Ferraris and supercars in general become heavier, have more computer systems and one less pedal, this lightweight aggressive looking brute can, with justification be thought of as one of the best Ferrari road racers of all time, right up there with the GTO and the SWB. Let us be thankful that they made a lot of them (approximately 1300) and that prices are, therefore, not as stratospheric. 

The F40, the one Ferrari that no serious car collection can be without. 

Specification

Engine: 2936cc Twin-water cooled Turbo V8
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Power: est. 500bhp, Ferrari advised 470 from factory
Weight: 1202 kg
0-60 mph: 4.1 sec (est)
Top Speed: 201 mph (est)

Giovanni Perfetti, Ferrari marketing exec said: “We wanted it to be very fast, sporting in the extreme and Spartan. Customers had been saying our cars were becoming too plush and comfortable. The F40 is for the most enthusiastic of our owners who want nothing but sheer performance.”

Adam Dawson

My name is Adam and I am one of the founders of Garage Sportique. Regularly competing in club racing and generally messing about in cars for the last few decades has given me some perspectives on having fun on four wheels and I like to drone on about it in these pages, but most of all I love discovering mint and unusual cars for sale and sharing them with the enthusiast market.

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