On July 21, 1987, automotive journalists from around the world assembled at the civic center near Ferrari’s Maranello headquarters for an audience with the Old Man himself. The occasion: the unveiling of the Ferrari F40 Berlinetta, the result of Ferrari’s instruction to his engineers to build the best car in the world.
The F40 was indeed a technological tour de force, combining superbly executed engineering conventions with brilliant innovation. Its maximum speed of 201 MPH necessitated Pirelli’s all-new Z-rated P700 tires mounted on center-locking F-1 style aluminum wheels, behind which reside huge Group C-derived 13-inch Brembo brakes. The otherwise conventional all-independent A-arm/coilover suspension bore the added benefit of automatic ride height adjustment, a concession to the changing road conditions the F40 would face in the real world. The F40’s 3.0L twin turbo 4-cam V-8 made no such compromises, boasting 478 HP at 7,000 RPM while delivering its maximum 425 lb-ft of torque at just 4,000, making it docile at low speeds yet ready to instantly launch the car forward with overwhelming ferocity. Sculpted in carbon fiber for minimal weight and maximum downforce, the F40’s stunning Pininfarina bodywork has gained iconic status in the intervening years, more for its artful forms than its aerodynamic efficiency; so too its strictly functional cockpit with its highly bolstered seats, simple padded steering wheel, gated shifter and analog instruments.
Sold new by Ferrari of Los Gatos on June 21, 1991, this one-owner 1990 Ferrari F40 has been driven just 473 miles. Accompanied by its original window sticker the supercar received its first service on October 6, 1992 at 459 miles and was then placed in storage, where it remained until April 26, 2013. One of only 1,311 produced from 1988 to 1992, it is a superb, virtually untouched example of the last Ferrari commissioned by Enzo Ferrari before his passing on August 14, 1988, barely one year after he introduced the F40 as the world’s fastest production automobile.
|To be auctioned on Friday, January 20, 2012 Estimated value $650,000- $750,000|
|471 bhp (SAE), 2,936 cc mid-mounted V-8 engine with dual overhead camshafts per cylinder bank, four valves per cylinder, Weber-Marelli engine management and port fuel injection, twin IHI turbochargers, Behr air-to-air intercoolers, five-speed manual gearbox in rear transaxle, four-wheel independent suspension with unequal-length A-arms, coil springs and anti-roll bar, and four-wheel ventilated hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 96.5″
• Less than 300 miles from new and well documented; still on original MSO
Introduced in 1987, Ferrari’s F40 supercar was nothing less than a shock to the senses and a masterful combination of raw-edge, radical styling with state-of-the-art technologies used throughout its engine, body and chassis designs. Without question, driving an F40 is truly a visceral experience, hammering the senses with brutal acceleration, go-kart quick reflexes and a howling exhaust note that is music to the ears of the devoted enthusiast. The overall experience is addictive—a powerful narcotic even.
Conceived in 1986, the F40 project was intended to celebrate Ferrari’s landmark 40th anniversary. Il Commendatore, Enzo Ferrari, is reported to have said, “Let’s make something special for next year’s celebrations in the way we used to do it.” A friend of Ferrari, Gino Rancati, who received a silver plaque to commemorate the occasion, suggested the car’s name. It was inscribed, “To Gino Rancati for a brilliant idea.” An accompanying letter said:
Dear Rancati, with this plaque I want to commemorate our meeting on the 4th June when you kindly contributed to the choice of name for the GT car we presented at the Frankfurt motor show. Your contribution has produced excellent results—the ‘F forty’, based on the idea of forty years of Ferrari cars, identifies and personalizes the fastest Ferrari GT. Kindest regards. G.B. Razelli.
Poignantly, next to this, in slightly shaky script with violet ink, was, “To Signor Gino, Ferrari.” Sadly, the F40 was to be the last car that Enzo Ferrari would see launched by the company he founded.
In true Ferrari tradition, the F40 bridged the gap between the company’s road cars and racing cars, representing a further progression of the 288 GTO Evoluzione. Cost-no-object engineering produced technical specifications that remain the stuff of fantasy even by today’s jaded standards. A carbon-fiber and Kevlar-reinforced steel space frame chassis with composite body panels was mated to an Evoluzione twin-turbocharged and intercooled four-cam, port-injected V-8 engine, controlled by a race-proven Weber-Marelli engine management system and producing close to 500 bhp.
Weighing just 1,100 kilograms, the F40 was capable of blinding performance. Fast Lane magazine road tested the F40 in the late 1980s, achieving zero-to-60 times of just 3.9 seconds. From a standstill, Ferrari’s supercar accelerated to 100 mph in just 7.8 seconds and to 140 mph in 14 seconds! Independent testing revealed even quicker acceleration times. Regardless of the source, the F40 proved to be the fastest road car ever produced, and its performance abilities remain simply staggering in every respect today.
While the initial production run was limited to about 400 examples, the market demand was so overwhelming, even with the car’s stratospheric price tag, that production continued until 1,315 F40s were built by the time production ended in 1991. American Ferrari enthusiasts, however, had to wait until 1990 for the chance to own one. With such strong demand, U.S.-specification cars traded at premiums of many thousands of dollars above their list price in the heady “supercar” market of the time. Over a three-year period, only 213 examples of the F40 were built for the U.S. market.
While every F40 is “special” indeed, this example from 1991 has covered fewer than 300 miles from new, and it is still unregistered and listed on its Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (MSO). As the 94th of the 213 U.S.-specification F40s, it was produced during October 1990. With just three owners from new, its original owner was none other than the famed American automotive executive and business leader Lee Iacocca. Having recently received a major service by Patrick Ottis, the noted Ferrari marque specialist, the F40 is now offered from the current owner’s impressive private collection and complete with extensive documentation confirming the former ownership of Mr. Iacocca. Among the documents are such items as the Ferrari Certificate of Origin dated October 12, 1990, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency letter, Italian export paperwork, an engraved “Built Especially for Lee Iacocca” card, the Owner’s Warranty and Service Book, the warranty card and one piece of personal correspondence. A genuine “blue chip” investment-quality exotic automobile, this 1991 F40 will certainly continue to top the Ferrari collector’s wish list for many years to come.
Source: RM Auctions
“If you’ve never been at 200 mph, it’s a sensation beyond belief.” The words of Dick Messer, the longtime Director of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, could hardly have better summarized the reasoning behind the museum’s sponsorship of an October 11 car show that focused on automobiles capable of 200 mph. Reaching out to local collectors and loyal members, the museum was able to assemble 23 such supercars for a fun and free event set against the backdrop of one of the area’s most popular open air luxury retail centers, the Americana on Brand Boulevard.
Located in the Los Angeles-adjacent city of Glendale, nicknamed the Jewel City, Americana on Brand is the latest project of Caruso Affiliated, a regional real estate development company that has garnered a reputation for the outdoor retail malls that are becoming increasingly commonplace in Southern California. There is a small degree of irony in the fact that a Caruso property would host an exhibition of expensive supercars, given that company founder Henry Caruso made the majority of his fortune as the founder of Dollar Rent-A-Car.
“To my knowledge, and I read practically every [automotive] publication, at least here in the United States, and some in Europe, this has never been done before – that this many supercars ended up in one place at one time,” explained Messer. The Petersen, of course contributed some of the most stellar offerings on display, including a Ferrari F40, F50 and 575 Superamerica, a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, a Bugatti EB110 and Veyron, a Ford GT and a Jaguar XJ220. Another area institution, the Riverside International Automotive Museum, supplied a freshly acquired Maserati MC12, which in concert with a handful of locally owned Lamborghinis and Ferraris, rounded out the representation of the major Italian supercar rivals.
Rarer contributions came in the form of a 2006 Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM AMG, one of about 100 carbon fiber-bodied CLK models homologated for racing and one of only 40 that the manufacturer allowed to circulate into public ownership. A Cizeta V16T, one of roughly 10 of the Marcelo Gandini-penned supercars that employ a transversely mounted V-16 engine, provided a rare glimpse of another little-known exotic. The most unusual car on hand though was an AREX, whose acronym stands for American Roadster Experimental. Fully looking like an experiment, the scissor-doored twin-turbo V-8 oddity was produced in the early 90s by former GM and Toyota designer David Stollery and Gale Banks Engineering.
Though the show wore the banner of a Concours d’Elegance, there was no judging other than one People’s Choice award, which went to a Ferrari Enzo owned by Armen Aslanian of Glendale. The show was the third such event that Americana on Brand has hosted in the last year, the previous two focusing on classic cars and the cars of celebrities. Caruso Public Relations Coordinator Jenny Bronstein clarified that the event would probably be held on an annual basis from this point forward.
“This is all excess beyond excess,” concluded Messer. “Nobody needs to have one of these cars. You don’t need to have a car that goes 200 mph plus to drive around Los Angeles,” he said, referring to the city’s notoriously congested traffic. “But on an open road, there’s nothing like it!”
Story and pictures by Mike Daly