Ferrari F40 Buying Advice

Ferrari F50 Buying Advice
December 22, 2017
1st Impressions – McLaren 12C Spider
December 24, 2017

The F40 was the first Supercar I owned and has provided the perfect introduction to Supercar ownership, raw, focussed, unforgiving, and incredibly exciting.   It forced me to really learn how to drive properly and provided a great experience base for all the other Supercars that have shared space in the garage in the years since.  The track days and trips together have been some of my most memorable and enjoyable.  There are few things in life that can top driving an F40 in Italy or threading one down brilliant twisty narrow Welsh roads.

Having owned the F40 for a number of years now, I do have a bit of experience in terms of what issues might arise.  Most potential F40 buyers that I talk to though seem much more concerned with mileage & history, and the impact of both on values, that anything else.  It is a major focus in both the UK and US but much less so in other markets.   Personally I think the only thing that should count on this great Ferraris is condition.  As early F40s are now 25 years old, condition and how well a specific car has been maintained, is critical.   In fact most of the ones that I have seen that run beautifully are used and serviced regularly.  Several F40s that I have seen die during F40 events were all garage queens.  These are machines that were designed to be driven and run best when used regularly.

History is another area that buyers tend to put a lot of focus on.  As F40s are LHD, with the fluctuations in exchange rate over the last 20-25 years, many of these cars have moved through multiple countries.  While in the US & UK, most supercar owners tend to keep detailed service records, in other markets it is much less common.  As cars move across borders and through multiple owners, records can and do get misplaced.  In Germany, Italy, Spain, and France, a stamped service book is more the norm than a box of detailed receipts.   I do like to see the detailed history on a car but from a personal standpoint, it is really only the last 4-5 years that matterr.  What happened 20 years ago is interesting but not really relevant to the current condition.

On any Ferrari, a detailed pre purchase inspection by a qualified mechanic is highly recommended.  I would also insist on a compression and leak down test to insure that the engine is health.

In terms of items to check on an F40, it includes:

– health of the Turbos, by now they will most likely have needed to be rebuilt or replaced

– clutch, check condition and when it was last replaced

– fuel bag tanks, they need to be replaced every ten years, find out when they were last done

– tires, check the condition and date codes, ideally they should not be more than a few years old

– if it has the adjustable suspension, make sure it is working properly, if left up when parked it will develop problems

– by now the shocks, bushes, etc will need to have been rebuilt or replaced, find out when it was done.

– it is easy to “clock” F40s and disconnect the odometers, make sure the cars condition matches the mileage

– the fabric on the seats fades over time, tear easily, and is difficult to clean. Check condition and see if they have been recovered. If so make sure the proper material has been used.

– if the air-conditioner is not regularly used and serviced, it will likely need replacement

– the water temp sensors will eventually fail and need replacement, check if this has been done.

– cam belts need changing every two years, check when they were last done and the history

– the drilled bremo discs have a tendency to suffer from surface cracks. Check to make sure the cracks are surface only and do not cross from one hole to the next.

– all F40s were built by hand and the tolerances were more art than science. After 20 plus years of running over potholes, badly paved road etc, things can get knocked slowly out of alignment. It is well worth the effort to put the car up on a rig and make sure everything is still straight.

– the glue and foam on the headlining will eventually disintegrate, check for sagging.

– a very significant number of F40s will have had a “misadventure” at some point in their lifetime. As long as the repairs were done properly, it should not be a major concern. Easy ways to tell are by checking for paint under the rubber door trim, and differences in paint on the chassis tubes. Also check that the green glue along the edges of the interior panels on the drivers and passenger’s side floor are consistent.

– a few of the wheels developed air leakage issues early on, make sure the tires are holding pressure properly (almost all would have been fixed long ago) and see if all four wheels are original.

– all the rubber hoses will have needed to be replaced by now, check when it was last done. Also see when the valve clearances were last checked and the spark plugs changed.

– check to see if the F40 was originally delivered with the three piece fitted luggage set, if so, make sure it is included in the sale

– as per above, on the tool kit and tyre repair canister

– make sure the service book & owner’s manual in the leather folder are still with the car

The above list is what I have learned from living with the F40 for multiple years now.  Overall, buying the F40 was one of the better and enjoyable decisions I made this past decade.

2 Comments

  1. Florian says:

    Thanks a lot for this article. I‘m about to see an F40 later today and will have to decide whether I would like to buy it or not. Your experience will be very helpful! 😉

  2. Gordon says:

    Beautifully written. An F50 (the cheapest highest mileage and only one I could afford) was similarly my first supercar I had many of the same sensations and learning experiences. Would love to see your next article on the F50 ownership experience to compare notes. Thanks again for sharing – everybody buying or thinking of buying an F40 should read this! And there should be a guide for every similar model!

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