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Motoring: Ferrari F40 - 1987

The Ferrari F40 was designed to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of Ferrari and was duly revealed to the world at the Frankfurt Motorshow in September 1987. It was designed and engineered to be the nearest thing to a race car on the road, and offered a performance to match its heritage.

The engine and chassis were (very) loosely based on those of the 288GTO. The former was a 2936cc development of the V8, still with four valves per cylinder and twin IHI turbos, but now generating 478bhp. The compression ratio was a modest 7.8:1 but the boost pressure used was a less than modest 16psi. The chassis retained the wheelbase and basic suspension arrangement, double wishbones front and rear, of the 288GTO but featured wider tracks front and rear. The wheels were immense 17 inch Cromodara units, 13 inches wide at the rear and shed with 335/35 Pirelli P-Zero tyres (8 inch at the front with 245/40). Due to the extremely small ground clearance on some cars the suspension featured a switchable height control.

The body which hid the tubular steel frame was a completely new design, as usual by Pininfarina. Using carbon-fibre, kevlar, aluminium and honeycomb parts it was aerodynamic, functional and light. These aims were further aided by the use of plastic for all the windows bar the windscreen, early cars with fixed side windows and later ones with manually wound items. Numerous ducts and vents were provided to cool the brakes and engine, and feed the turbos, as well as keep the car on the road, the latter also being helped by the large rear aerofoil. It was assembled by hand, the resulting quality of the construction being one of the few (or only!) areas of the car which was sometimes criticised.

Few compromises were made, with no power steering and pull-cords to open the door from the inside, everything was done to keep it light. Initial plans to build just 400 were modified several times, until a total of 1,315 cars had been built. It was replaced in 1992 by the F50 (above right), which was also built with the aim of making a road car which was as similar to a Formula One car as possible. A total of 349 examples were produced.

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