Enzo Ferrari was as famous for his hot-bloodedness and insensitive, reckless statements as he was for his cars. An oft-mentioned one is his blasé query about the car’s condition when he was told about driver Eugenio Castellotti’s fatal crash in 1957. The fact that this was at a time when Ferrari was accused of building his business “on dead men” shows how indifferent he was to criticism. And Il Commendatore rarely took his words back.
But, there was one statement of his that Enzo was forced to reverse by his actions much later in life. In 1960, replying to a question from race driver Paul Frère regarding the Ferrari 250TR’s large upright windscreen and limited top speed, he famously said, “Aerodynamics are for people who can’t build engines.” At the time he made this remark, his cars were doing well in motorsport, and were deemed superior to most rival cars, so there was no need for him to justify his observation.
But by the late Eighties, well into his twilight years, when Enzo Ferrari wanted to build a successor to the 288 GTO that would be a showcase of the brand’s technical prowess as well as a credible rival to the Porsche 959, he had to swallow his own words. The resultant supercar, the F40, had its design and development driven by one main factor, and that, ironically enough, was aerodynamics. Although it was powered by a 471bhp 2.9-litre turbocharged V8, the real star behind the F40’s performance was its streamlined, super-slick design. With an impressively low drag of 0.34 Cd, the F40 was one of the most aerodynamic cars of its time.
In fact, the F40 did what many of Enzo Ferrari’s peers and rivals couldn’t do; knock him off his high horse.