Ferrari F40 review

I took a ride in a Ferrari F40 at The Supercar Event. I sat in the passenger seat of this legendary, vintage supercar while the owner took me round the Top Gear test track at Dunsfold.

Now I know why this car’s reputation precedes it. Incredible… writes Glenn Doncaster.

Ferrari F40 style & aesthetics

When you see an F40 for the first time, you see why it’s famed for its looks.

Ferrari F40 on the road
The exquisite Ferrari F40 on the road. Credit.

The low, sloping front flows seamlessly into the smooth, delicate middle and then down to the rear end; which is what really gives the F40 its distinctive look.

I love the long, triangular air channels leading up to intakes and of course that massive rear wing – which really is the F40’s best feature.

Its image is truly timeless, perhaps unsurprisingly given that this car’s appearance was the final work of Enzo Ferrari’s own penmanship.

Ferrari F40 performance & vital statistics

It’s not just this car’s looks that haven’t aged a day; the performance is as epic as it ever was.

Ferrari F40 Specification

 
Engine:2.9 litre V8 Twin-turbo
Power:471 bhp (478 ps)
0-60:3.7 seconds
Top speed:201 mph (324 kph)
Torque:577 nm (426 lb ft)

It launches itself off the line like a scolded cat; powered by a 478 break horse power, twin turbo-charged V8 engine, taking it from 0-60 in just 3.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 201 miles per hour.

As this thing tears its way up the straight you feel the power surge from the engine out through the rear wheels and the whole chassis vibrates vigorously, giving you a sense of what this it’s really capable of.

Because the F40 weighs just 1.2 tonnes, it has a power-to-weight ratio of 398 break horse power per tonne and that means it absolutely flies. In fact, back in 1987, when this car was launched, it was the fastest mass produced car in the world.

Ferrari F40 interior
The interior of the Ferrari F40. Credit.

Such performance is achievable because of the extreme weight-saving methods used in the car. There’s no radio, no air conditioning, no airbags. There are no carpets, and there aren’t even any door pulls, just bits of string which hang from the door linings.

Before you know it you’re at the end of the straight – and then you get to experience this car’s party piece.

The handling of this thing is sublime. It does not oversteer and there is very, very little in the way of understeer, with the great majority of apexes being hit with astounding accuracy.

Ferrari F40 visits The Children's Trust
A Ferrari F40 visits The Children’s Trust’s National Specialist Centre in Tadworth, Surrey

On the rare occasion that there is a touch of understeer, you get a spirited little kickback from that good-old-fashioned single clutch gearbox and, as you feel the car explore the limits of grip, you get a real sense of the character this thing has.

A strange mix of soul and flare…

The F40 is a strange mix of that flare and soul Ferrari do so well, coupled with a more mechanical, no-thrills presentation.

At low revs through the tight, twisting turns you very much get the sense that this is a machine, and this is an all-mechanical car in the very truest sense.

Since it was built in the 1980s, this car has no electronic aids at all. There’s no traction control, no ABS, no anti-lock brakes… it doesn’t even have power steering!

The end is result is you get a very pure, distilled experience: a true sense of all that 20th century Italian engineering had to offer and nothing else, nothing in the way, just the car.

The noise, too, adds to the this Ferrari’s truly wondrous nature. It sounds like the trumpeting of a thousand elephants in perfect harmony with the roar of a furious lion.

Badge on a Ferrari F40
😍

Final thoughts

There is no question that this car deserves its status as a legend of the automotive world and I can completely understand why, for many a petrol head, this is the definitive supercar, the one that defines the breed.

Even 30 years on from Enzo drawing up the blueprints, this car can still wow people with its performance and that alone gives it a level of greatness no one contest. What an experience to be had at The Supercar Event!

Now, the sales pitch…

You’ve got to the end of this review, but don’t go yet!

If you’d like to have a similar experience in a Ferrari F40 or any of the other superb cars driven by our volunteer drivers at The Supercar Event, you can!

Check out our page on supercar and hypercar rides for more information.

Editors note: Glenn’s account is from his visit to The Supercar Event at Dunsfold on Sunday 25 June 2017. The Top Gear test track at Dunsfold is the former home of The Supercar Event. The event was held at the site until 2017. >> Event history

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