Three decades on, and the Ferrari F40 is still remembered as the classic expression of a supercar, a completely uncompromising collection of Naca ducts, anti-reflection felt, and paint so thin you could see the Kevlar weave beneath.
As all great cars, the F40 was the creation of one great man, Nicola Materazzi, the engineer tasked by Enzo Ferrari to rush the ultimate supercar to production because the Old Man was old, and indeed this was to be the last road car signed off by Enzo before his death.
Materazzi raced against time, and internal Fiat scuffles, to complete the F40 in a matter of months and way in advance of the originally scheduled launch at the Frankfurt motor show in 1987. Sister brand Alfa Romeo was revealing the 164 there and the suits had a fit at the thought of Materazzi’s F40 stealing the limelight: Nobody will pay attention to the Alfa with this thing there…
So Enzo said July, and Materazzi’s team went and epitomised the Saturday Club idiom by working after hours and over weekends to deliver the F40 on July 21, to glowing appraisals. Over night 900 orders came in — Ferrari said only 400 would be built though, and after pressure of both the financial and moral kind the company ended up making over 1,300 F40s built between 1987 and 1992.
Materazzi wasn’t there to see it though. After the F40 success Enzo promised him the role of technical boss at Ferrari upon Materazzi’s return to Maranello from a deserving holiday. When he returned however, Materazzi walked in to his office to find another in his chair. He was being replaced by an engineer from Carraro, the tractor maker. Materazzi sat down and typed out his resignation.
Tractor man went on to do the 1989 Ferrari 348, universally regarded as the worst Ferrari of all time and, aptly, one that handled like a tractor.