For the 1st time in a decade the Ferrari F40 went under the wrench of a new service technician. Mark, Harvey, and the team at Carr’s Ferrari Exeter had taken terrific care of the F40 over the years and knew the feral beast inside and out. Over the years we had done a bit of a rolling restoration which kept the F40 in consistently great running condition. In the last several years the suspension has been rebuilt, the turbos reconditioned, the exhaust recored, the seats recovered and both the bag tanks and clutch replaced. Our F40 is one 27 year old car that I would not think twice about taking out on a 1000 mile road trip.
Picking who would now be working on the car was not an easy choice. In our immediate area there are two options, an independent, Norwood Auto Italia, and the official dealer, Boardwalk Ferrari. While I do not have any direct experience with Norwood, the feedback I got on them was very positive so I requested a quote. Boardwalk was a bit of a different case, I do have a bit of history with them on both the sales and servicing side. Boardwalk did the servicing on both our former 16M & 599 GTB HGTE. While I thought it was expensive, even by Ferrari standards, Boardwalk did do a good job. My experience with Boardwalk on the sales side has been much less positive.
The service quote I received from Norwood was eye watering. The total was 2 1/2x what Carr’s would have charged for the same major cambelt service. The estimate from Boardwalk was more reasonable and that, along with the fact that Boardwalk is an official Ferrari service center made the choice easy. The fact that the F40 has always been worked on by official dealers, also played a significant factor in the decision. The icing on the cake however was that the service manager, who used to be on the sales side, had sold multiple F40s early in his career and therefore was very familiar with the cars. The drop off date was arranged and shortly thereafter it was delivered for its annual fettling.
The one issue that I did ask Boardwalk to look into was the air conditioning system. Despite recharging it at the last service, the air-con had stopped blowing cold after just a few months. The report came back that the compressor was in need of a complete rebuild so in it went to a local specialist. Replacement was not an option as you can no longer get new units from Ferrari. I guess I can now add the a/c compressor to the list of items addressed as part of the rolling restoration.
The rest of the service was routine, all the liquids changed, new filters, and the bi-annual cam belt replacement. Why the cam belts are only good for 2 years on the F40 is beyond me. The old belts when removed looked nearly new. However, given it’s an F40, I do have the cambelts religiously replaced as per the recommended schedule. There were no other items on the check list this time as the tires are two years old, clutch has less than 2,000 miles on it, and overall the F40 has been running well.
Once the service was complete, I did have to ask Boardwalk if they could hold on to the car for several weeks as I was traveling. They were happy to accommodate and I was finally able to collect the F40 last Friday. The F40 fired right up on the 1st push of the starter button and immediately settled into a smooth idle. I thought this was a bit strange as it will normally rev to close to 2000 rpm and then hunt a bit upon cold startup as it warms the cats. I mentioned this to the service technician but as it seemed to be running fine, off I headed to first the nearest gas station and then home.
Upon pulling out of the gas station I started to notice that the F40 really felt sluggish. The on-ramp onto the highway reinforced the perception. It felt as if someone had swapped out the 2.9L twin turbo V8 for the anemic 1.5L 3 cylinder engine in a BMW i8. While I was able to get up to speed, it took far too long and throttle response was anything but razor sharp. The turbos also seemed to have left on vacation. I wasn’t sure if this was a combination of the poor F40 sitting for too many weeks and/or bad petrol. This continued for close to 10 minutes with me constantly playing with the accelerator to see if I could get whatever the issue was out of the system. About a mile before our exit, the F40 transformed back into the snarling feral beast I know and love. The balance of the drive home was perfectly normal and the F40 now seemed fine and running like it should.
I did call Boardwalk to mention the issue and we agreed it was likely a bit of old or bad petrol. My plan now is to take the F40 out for a very long drive next week just to make sure all is well. This will also run the tanks down so we can refill with fresh petrol. Finger crossed all is now well with Enzo’s final creation.
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