With Ferrari looking to continue the competitiveness found with the 333 SP and F40 LM throughout the late eighties and early nineties, the F50 GT was the car that was due to continue the trend in sportscar racing.
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Ferrari F50 GT
Like the F40 LM that came before it, the F50 GT was designed with motorsport in mind. As the name suggests, the car was designed and constructed for GT1-class racing. The F50 GT saw numerous changes over the original F50, including a fixed roof, new front spoiler and bumpers as well as large rear wing on the car to produce downforce.
The original 4.7-L Tipo V12 from the F50 was arranged, but was tuned to generate around 740 bhp, while a test in 1996 benchmarked the F50 GT a 0-60 mph time of 2.9 seconds, going on to a top speed of 380 kph (236 mph).
As with the 333 SP that began racing in 1994, the Ferrari F50 GT was developed in partnership with Dallara and Michelotto, who both worked with Ferrari on numerous other projects in the past.
Why did it not race?
Throughout the eighties and nineties, Ferrari had been looking at how well rivals such as Porsche and McLaren had been doing in sportscar racing, and were keen to beat these marques in a series outside of F1. As the McLaren F1 began to become too competitive for the F40 LM, Ferrari looked towards the F50 GT as the new main competitor for the company.
Ferrari were hoping to enter the F50 GT in the GT1 class, where cars of this class were based off heavily-modified road models, but Porsche had already found a major advantage before racing even begun.
Due to a small change in the regulations, Porsche, Mercedes and McLaren were suddenly able to build much faster ‘Evolution’ models as a modification to their original road-going models. When Porsche unveiled the 911 GT1, it was essentially a prototype in a sportscar body, and they were allowed to produce a small number of road-going 911 GT1’s to homogenate it into the GT1 class.
Ferrari tried to get the FIA to ban the 911 GT1, but it was to no avail as the FIA actually sided with Porsche on the matter. With Ferrari knowing that the F50 GT would stand little chance against the purpose-built cars such as the 911 GT1, as well as Michael Schumacher starting to be competitive with the team in Formula 1, the project was scrapped before it barely began.
In the end, only three examples of the F50 GT were completed. Ferrari had originally produced six F50 GT chassis, but destroyed the unfinished three to prevent rivals learning from the research and development into the car.
The three completed models were sold on to the company’s best customers at the time, under the strict agreement that any of the three examples never would be used for racing.
The first model, S/N 001, was sold to Art Zafiropoulo, a Californian collector, who famously showed off his car at the Rodeo Drive Concours upon taking delivery of the car in 1997, while the second model, S/N 002 found its way to Japan, to a collector by the name of Yoshikuni Okamoto.
The final model, S/N 003, also ended up in America in the hands of Jim Spiro, but this example was auctioned to an Australian collector in 2000 for a total of $1,430,000.
Written by Cóilín Higgins.