Thirty years have passed since the official presentation of the F40, which took place on 21 July 1987 at the Civic Center in Maranello, now home to the Ferrari Museum. Created to celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary, it was the last car to carry the founder’s “signature”. It was a definitive car, the ultimate expression of the technology thus far developed by the Prancing Horse, but at the same time it went back to Ferrari’s roots when racing cars were also road vehicles. An extreme derivation of the 308 GTB and of the 288 GTO Evoluzione prototype, the Ferrari F40 is a masterpiece of engineering and style, which entered the collective imagination as a symbol of an era.
On the anniversary of the launch of this motoring legend, Ferrari has gathered together the memories of three of its creators: Ermanno Bonfiglioli, then Head of Special Projects, Leonardo Fioravanti, a designer for Pininfarina, and test driver Dario Benuzzi.
The conceptualization started in June 1986 when the team began designing the engine of the project F 120 A. The 8-cylinder 478 hp twin-turbo was a derivative of the 288 GTO Evoluzione’s, but a number of innovative contents enabled the F40 to become the first production Ferrari to exceed 320 km/h. The team paid maximum attention to the weight of the engine, thanks also to the extensive use of magnesium.
Fioravanti, then a designer at Pininfarina, was invited by Enzo Ferrari to Fiorano to try the 288 GTO Evoluzione: Thereafter, the F40 became a brainchild and it would the final car conceptualized by Enzo. Extensive research at the wind tunnel went into aerodynamic optimization, to achieve coefficients appropriate for the most powerful Ferrari road car ever. Its style matched its performance: the low bonnet with a very tiny overhang, the NACA air vents and the rear spoiler.
The F40 is on show at the Ferrari Museum of Maranello as part of the “Under the Skin” exhibition devoted to the evolution of innovation and style in the 70-year history of the Prancing Horse.