Articles

Michael Sheehan's Ferraris-online.com Article

Move Over Daytona

As appeared in:

Sports Car Market—June 1999 issue

Sheehan Speaks

by Michael Sheehan

Mike Sheehan

The F40 was introduced to the press on July 21, 1987 to celebrate Ferrari’s 40th anniversary as an auto manufacturer. Original production plans were to build 400–450 cars for worldwide distribution with a list price of about $250,000. As has been well documented, Ferrari prices skyrocketed from 1986 to 1990 and, some say to cash in on the rising prices, Ferrari ultimately built 1315 F40’s. Some F40s changed hands for over $1,000,000.

The world economy sank from 1990 to 1995 and F40 prices dropped accordingly, with low mileage “no story” F40s selling with difficulty for as little (?) as $225,000 in 1994/95/96. As the world economy recovered and then boomed in the last half of this decade F40 prices have climbed and as of Mid-1999 a low mileage “no story” F40 will bring about $325,000 and there are no lack of buyers.

My generation, the babyboomers, are now in their early 40’s to early 50’s. We grew up wanting Daytonas and 275 GTB’s, the cars of our youth. Today’s new buyer in the Ferrari market are technology hip, on line, in their 30’s, and for them the ultimate Ferrari is the F40, the car of their youth.

And why not. The F40 is the ultimate “Bad Boy” car with outrageous looks that scream “this car is really fast and I am really rich and very cool.” The F40 is the ultimate magnet for men, women and, unfortunately, traffic cops.

Just as a Daytona with a 4.4 litre V-12, six Webers and 350 horsepower offered the ultimate in 1970’s technology to my generation, the F40, which weighs 1000 pounds less than a Daytona thanks to its cabon fiber everything and gives wastegate popping turbo performance, represents the high point of 1980’s technology and the turbo era.

That performance is perhaps best described as sensory overload. With 478 horsepower on tap, the 0–60 mph time is a mere 3.8 seconds and top speed is a shattering 196 MPH. The road handling is equally as phenomenal but… once the edge is reached and passed there is usually no return. Ends swap quickly when the turbos come on, and should you be unlucky enough to crash an F40, repair costs are simply silly. For example, a front nose panel is about $25,000. Add in the other bits always needed and any crash will set you back $50,000 plus.

The other bad news? Many F40’s have usually been driven hard and put away wet. Even though they may have low mileage, they do not take well to accumulated shelf life due to timing belt and clutch hydraulic deterioration. Routine maintenance is both expensive and mandatory. Additionally an F40 is annoying to get in and out of, and even at cruise speed you hear every pebble on the road hitting the inner wheel arches and floor panel, since they have no sound insulation.

So should you be lucky enough to own an F40 or to buy one, it can be assumed that the F40 will not be your only car. Maintain it properly, forget ever again being low profile, avoid traffic cops, keep your insurance payments up and whatever you do, don’t crash it. And wait until it is twenty years old so you can enter it in the Cannonball Classic. A cross-country trip in an F40 would be something to tell your children about.

MICHAEL SHEEHAN has been a Ferrari dealer for 30 years as well as a race car driver and exotic car broker.