Ferrari F40: Looking Back on the Last 15 Years

We have owned our Ferrari F40 for just over 15 years now.  This is twice as long as I have ever owned any other car.  In those 15 years, I’ve driven it 30,000 miles across 11 different countries.  The F40 has had one major engine rebuild, two new clutches, and one new set of fuel cells.  Our various adventures over the years are well documented both on Karenable and in a few issues of EVO Magazine.  I’ve taken the F40 on the track in several different countries and have run it flat out down the autobahn.   The longest single day drive I have done in it was Nice to Madrid in a bit under 9 hours.  The F40 has been driven across the Swiss Alps and up a goat path in Wales.  Needless to say, our F40 has led a full life in the last 15 years and is about as far from being a garage queen as you can get.

How we ended up with the F40 is a bit of a convoluted story.  It started with a test drive of a Dino 246 GT in the countryside outside of Brussels.  While the test drive was far from a success the conversation back in the garage turned out to be most fortuitous.  In the barn where the Dino was kept there were also two F40s.  After we established that the Dino 246 GT wasn’t going work due to both my longish legs and a missing 2nd gear, the conversation shifted quickly to the two imposing F40s.  It was the 1st time I had ever seen a pair up close, and the highly knowledgeable broker took me through both cars and pointed out the differences as one was a very early production sliding plexi window F40, and the other a late cat & adjustable suspension F40.  Neither of the F40s was for sale at the time and the brokers parting words were if you are interested in an F40, I would act quickly as prices are about to start rising again.  Wise words.

 

Roll forward a few months and the search for a F40 was on.  At that point, I hadn’t settled completely on the F40, a 288 GTO was also under consideration.  Back then, the 288 GTO was the less valuable of the two cars.  As values hadn’t gone through the roof yet, dealers would still let you take them out on test drives.  It was after test driving a couple of 288 GTOs and F40s that the decision was made to pursue and F40.  While the 288 GTO is a very special car, the F40 was the better driver’s car and more of an experience.  As special as the 288 GTO is, it does feel a bit like a 328 GTB on steroids.  The F40 on the other hand will never be mistaken for anything else. 

After looking at a number of different F40s, the one I finally settled on was a very late production, two owner car that had been originally delivered in Rome.  The second owner had the car in Germany and I bought it from Eberlein Ferrari in Kassel.  The negotiations on the car took several months and were an exercise in patience.  We finally agreed the deal which included part exchanging my Ferrari 550 Maranello.  The 550 was in Portugal at the time and the plan was to drive it from Lisbon to Kassel, swap it for the F40, and then drive the F40 to Madrid where I had an apartment at the time.  The story of that trip is: 1st Four Days in the F40.

 

After that very memorable 1st trip, we have had a wonderful succession of different experiences with the F40 over the years.  A few of the more memorable ones are captured in a few articles posted on karenable including: Return to Maranello with 40 other F40s, Epic Drive Across France, and Across the Alps to Tuscany.  Some of the highlights from those trips include being on the track at Mugello with several dozen other F40s, having the Italian police clear traffic for us on the Autostrade, crossing the Alps with temperatures still below freezing in late June, and hustling the F40 down stunning D roads in southern France.  There have been numerous other road trips in Spain, Germany, Portugal, France and the UK.  The F40 has navigated narrow Welsh B roads, been driven across the moors of Devon, and been driven up a glorified goat path in the Brecon Beacons.  It’s also been run across a number of Alpine passes which still rates as some of the most challenging and exhilarating driving I have done in the car. The F40 also featured in one of EVO Magazines more memorable articles when Henry Catchpole and Dean Smith drove it back to the UK from Switzerland for me. 

I have also tried to memorialize what the F40 is like to own and drive.  One of the more memorable recent drives was a back to back session with the McLaren 675LT Spider which served as the basis for this blog: Joy of Driving.  Even after 15 years, every drive in the F40 is still special and an event.  It’s equally as fun to push down a back country road as it is to flog around a racetrack.  The F40 is a car that demands a lot from the driver and rewards you by continuing to make you a better driver.

 

In terms of ownership, overall, it’s been fairly reasonable to own.  When we lived in the UK, we were very fortunate to have a great relationship and service from Carrs Ferrari (Great Dealerships).  Post the UK, it’s been a bit more of challenge first with a horrible experience with Boardwalk Ferrari in Dallas (F40 1st US Service), but we have found a great classic Ferrari mechanic in New England at IFS (Independent Ferrari Service).  He has over 43 years of experience servicing all types of Ferraris and lots of time working on F40s. IFS did the engine rebuild (Rebuilding the F40) and the F40 has been running beautifully ever since.  In fact, it just came back from its one year checkup where it was given a clean bill of health. 

While I doubt I will track the F40 again, road trips will certain continue to be a major part of the F40s life.  I can no more imagine parting with it than I can selling off any family heirlooms.  The plan is to drive it until I physically can’t and then see if one of the kids wants the car.

Thoughts and comments? Please see the comments section below.

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December 2021

 

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7 Thoughts on Ferrari F40: Looking Back on the Last 15 Years
    John
    21 Dec 2021
     11:47pm

    Henry Catchpole is a legend. I love his videos on Carfection too. Simply the best reviews on YouTube, and the camera work rivals the likes of Top Gear who have huge teams and budgets working on the by comparison.

    Many years ago, when I was still a teenager, I went to the Glasgow motor show with a friend. Let in to the stand with Ferrari and other exotics my friend started banging on the rear wing and putting his hands all over the F40. I told him to stop abusing the car! I’d just got closer to these rare cars than you normally could in Scotland, and he’s disrespecting them. I picked another friend to go with to future shows.

    In a much later show myself and a couple of others got in to one of the smallest cars on show (we’re above average heights). We started singing “Bohemian Rhapsody”! Yes, you know the scene from Wayne’s World…

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    Robin Kanagasabay
    20 Dec 2021
     9:30pm

    Planning the inheritance plan for a car is a sign of a truly great piece of engineering (and a thoughtful father.)

    A lovely piece of writing as always – thank you.

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    Tiago Ferreira
    30 Dec 2021
     10:40am

    Great story and i like to know that you have the F40 with you 🙂 🙂

    And the F50 was sold?

    Regards from Portugal,
    Tiago Ferreira

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