The Ferrari F50 is one of my top 3 favorites, has been from the first time I drove one. That opinion hasn’t changed from day 1 and I doubt it will. EVO Magazine is partially responsible for my owning one. It was the Ferrari Supercar feature in Issue 64 (which is still my favorite issue) that got me seriously thinking about buying one. Opening the driver’s door and sliding into the wonderfully supportive driver’s seat still puts a childish grin on my face every time I do it. My F50 is an original UK delivered car. It is red as I believe an F50 should be (I do like the fact that all F40s were red) and it was produced towards the end of the production run in 1997. I bought the F50 from Carrs Ferrari in Exeter who have continued to do an excellent job of taking care of the car while it has been in my ownership.
Running the F50 not exactly inexpensive but it is also not any more expensive than any other high performance car. With the exception of the fuel cells that need replacing this year, it has been lighter on the wallet than either the similar era F355 or 360 that I used to own. While the F50 is a work of engineering art, it is a fairly simple car in terms electronics and all those other high tech things that have a habit of going wrong. The only issue I have ever had with the car in the last several years was a failed temperature sensor which cost a couple of hundred £ to replace. If the key to keeping an F50 in great condition is regular maintenance, the secret is regular use.
If I have to be honest with myself, the F50 probably doesn’t get quite as much use as it should. I have always had mine set up as a Barchetta so it really is a sunny day only car. While I have driven it in the wet and it was fine with the soft top on, it just isn’t a lot of fun. The F50 is a car you really want to be able to drive and push so puttering down the road in the wet defeats the purpose. The F50 tends to get used more for day trips than overnight excursions.
Open the fly weight door, drop down into the black leather seat, push the clutch in, turn the ignition key, wait for the OK light to illuminate on the dashboard, press the started button, and the engine immediately explodes into life. For the first several minutes, it revs to 2000 rpms until the cats heat up and then drops to just under a thousand. Wait for the water and oil temp gauges to light up by at least one bar, and then you can gently head towards the open road. Give it 10 miles to heat up properly and then the fun can start. Find a nice long empty patch of road, drop down to second gear, and start spinning the F1 derived engine up. The F50 will launch itself down the road with an aggression I have never experienced in any other car. As the rpm gauge passes 5500, the exhaust note rises to an unworldly scream which simply intensifies as you close in on the 8500 rpm redline. It is the closest a road car gets to the sound of an F1 car. The rigid carbon fiber tub, combined with the push rod suspension, provide outstanding road handling. The short throw 6 speed manual gear box is the best I have ever used. Add in very nicest weighted steering that allows you to place the car exactly where you want it, and overall you have a truly great driver’s car. While it might not be quite as fast as the latest super or hyper cars, the total “driver’s” experience, for what my opinion is worth, remains unmatched.