What qualifies as a 'supercar'? Although this is a highly debatable question, few automotive enthusiasts will disagree when it comes to the Ferrari F40. This thoroughbred from Maranello's finest stable incorporates everything needed to be a true 'supercar', and more.
Built to celebrate the marque's 40th anniversary, the F40 was a development of the 288 GTO. Whereas the GTO's looks are understated, the F40's curvaceous body and huge rear wing just scream performance. Penned by Pininfarina, the F40 shares some design elements with the 288 GTO Evoluzione race car.
Under the composite body panels Ferrari fitted nothing but the essential bits and pieces to keep the car's overall weight down. The chassis consists of a composite central section with steel tubular space frames on either end to support the suspension. This setup offers a good balance between light weight and rigidity. Suspension is by double wishbones all-round, helped by coil springs over dampers and an anti-roll bar fore and aft.
The heart of every Ferrari is the engine and the F40 is no exception. Unlike most other Ferraris, which are powered by a high revving V12 engine, the F40 uses a V8. Like the manufacturer's contemporary Formula 1 engines, the V8 is fitted with two Turbochargers and intercoolers. The three litre engine was rated at 478 bhp, which was well within the chassis' 600 - 650 bhp limit.
The complete package combined stunning looks and tarmac ripping performance, which could very well be considered the essential ingredients for being a supercar. The lack of creature comforts and practicality ads to the 'perfect mix.' Driving a F40 requires a very strong left foot and a very careful right foot.
At the time of the F40's launch there was just one real competitor, the Porsche 959. Equipped with a heavy all wheel drive system, the Porsche was let down by a much higher kerb weight. For many years the F40's performance remained unmatched. Ferrari intended to produce less than 950 examples, but to match the 3100 potential orders, just over 1300 were eventually built.
The spartan F40 was basically a road legal racer, so it came as no surprise that Ferrari customers were interested in racing the F40 in GT-races. For this purpose Michelotto modified a number of F40s, which were raced with considerable success, long after the road car's production had halted. Dubbed F40 LM and F40 GTE, these racers were fitted with a 700 bhp version of the V8.
Today, the F40 still ranks high on many enthusiasts' favourite car list. With 1315 examples it is not as rare as Ferrari's other supercar and is common sight on many Ferrari events, where its unique looks still makes fans' hearts beat faster. It is pictured here at Ferrari events and auctions all over Europe.