We recently received some questions of the F40 Barchetta which let us decide to do some research and combine it all in an easy-to-read article. Please note there are many different stories about the F40 Barchetta so we’ll simplify the most common one.
Photo: Diederik Lieftink
Ferrari got many complains in the 80s about their cars being too soft and too comfortable. The goal – which led to the F40 – was to build a true racing car for the streets without any luxurious options or electronic gadgets. Pininfarina went to work and created a brilliant automobile which was named after 40 years of Ferrari: F40. The car got its power from a twin-turbocharged V8 which produced around 480 bhp. This engine is still notorious for its turbo lag so you can’t be mad at Enzo Ferrari of what he said during the first test drive: ‘’This car is so fast it will make you sh*t your pants.’’. Which basically concludes both Pininfarina and Ferrari succeeded in their pursuit to better their products and satisfy their clients.
At first, the F40 wasn’t supposed to compete in any championships whatsoever, but as with all companies the client is king so Ferrari did what buyers asked them to do. Michelotto – long-time Ferrari GT and prototype developer – started a project which eventually resulted in the F40 LM. It had a complete reworked chassis, an updated suspension system and carbon parts like the front splitter and rear diffuser. Even the remarkable wing was replaced by an adjustable one to create more downforce. Although it has the same engine as the F40, the twin-turbocharged V8 in the F40 LM produced around 700 bhp which to this date is still a massive expansion.
When the F40 LM was ready to race it debuted in the IMSA GT: a North American racing series. It appeared at the start without official Ferrari licenses because the parent company Fiat commanded Ferrari to focus on the Formula 1 rather than other racing series. The F40 LM with chassis number #79890 entered the championship via the French Ferrari club. Even though being forced to race with engine restrictors, Frenchman Jean Alesi was able to finish as third in the one-hour Laguna Seca race. The next race, at Del Mar, was less successful. Former F1 driver Jean-Pierre Jabouille failed to finish because of mechanical complications.
Although Jabouille finished second during the race at Road America (Wisconsin), the F40 LM wasn’t strong enough to compete with the other cars. It didn’t fulfil most expectations as well and those reasons led to the decision to quite racing in the F40 LM. The #79890 F40 LM was put into storage…
…until three years later when Belgian billionaire Jean Blaton bought the car. Blaton used to race in the 1950s and 1960s and wore the nickname Jean Beurlys. Beurlys appeared fifteen times at the starting line of the 24h of Le Mans with the third place in the 1965 race as the best result. Beurlys knew he got something special and rare when he bought one of the two F40 LM’s which competed in the IMSA GT, but he wasn’t satisfied. His wish was to build something outrageous, something that was never done before. To get the process going Beurlys got in touch with Tony Gillet: a former Belgium racing driver and founder of Gillet Cars. Gillet got the request to redesign the unique F40 LM and transform it into something uncommon…
…the drastic changes resulted in a so called Barchetta: an Italian roofless car. The whole roof structure was removed and a manual push-rod suspension – just like the Corse Clienti cars – was installed. The recognizable triple-exhaust turned into a modified system which exited just before the rear wheels. Gillet built a one-off steel roll cage for the F40 Barchetta for safety reasons and a little windshield was placed just in front of the passengers to protect them from stone chips. To make it even more extreme the engine restrictors were removed which added an additional 60 horsepower resulting in an engine output of 760 bhp. The F40 Barchetta is capable of reaching a 100 km/h from standstill in just over 3 seconds. Top speed is said to be around 370 km/h.
Refused by Ferrari
Ferrari never gave permission to transform the car to what it still is to this date. They forced the owners to remove all original Ferrari badges. This is most likely the reason why the one-off didn’t reached the estimated $195,000 at an auction back in 2005.
It’s unclear who the current owner of the F40 Barchetta is. Dutch Ferrari specialist Forza Service had the car in their garage back in 2012 for a full revision. Click here to check out their website and some pictures of the process. The latest appearance of the car just a couple of days ago at the circuit of Assen, didn’t end successfully: it crashed into a wooden boarding just before parking its rear end in a set of tire piles due cold tires. Some pictures of the aftermath were kindly lend to us by Arjan van der Heide.
We hope you enjoyed the time line we made of the F40 Barchetta. Please note there are several stories about the F40 Barchetta. We tried to simplify the most told one.
Written by Max Lammers.
The Ferrari F40 Barchetta is also available as 1:18 scale model, click on the picture below to learn more.