Used car tests

Ferrari F40: Buying guide and review (1987-1992)

A full buyer's guide for the Ferrari F40 (1987-1992) including specs, common problems and model history...

Ferrari F40 group

Is the Ferrari F40 the most iconic supercar of the 1980s? it’s certainly up there with the Countach, but this was also an exceptionally important car for Ferrari. It was the last road car signed off by Enzo himself, and it signalled the beginning of the 200mph era for Ferrari.  

It evolved out of the Group B Ferrari 288 GTO, and was powered by a brilliant 2.9-litre twin-turbo V8 engine – pushing out in excess of 478bhp. Making no bones about its lack of interior luxuries, Ferrari marketed the F40 as a racing car for the road… even though it was never technically built to go racing.

Top 10 best Ferraris

The 202mph Ferrari felt raw and absolutely phenomenal, thanks in part to the extremely low 1100kg weight. Every car nut wants to own an F40 at some point in their life. That’s a fact. Okay, Ferrari got over-excited and ended up building 1315 of them rather than the 400 they initially suggested but, even so, this is both an iconic Ferrari and one of the greatest, most exciting road cars ever made.

So it’s actually brilliant news for potential buyers that they made so many, otherwise an F40 would be valued in the millions by now. At around £500,000-800,000 today, depending on mileage, it actually offers great value. Yes, really. 

More reviews

Car group tests
In-depth reviews
Long-term tests
Reviews
Road tests
Used car tests

Here’s some man-maths to prove it. Adjusted for inflation, the F40’s original list price of £163,000 in 1987 becomes £417,000 today, so values haven’t gone up as much in percentage terms as you might think. Looking at it another way, the McLaren F1 is probably the world’s greatest supercar ever made, but that doesn’t make the F1 worth 12-15 times more than one of the greatest Ferrari supercars ever made.

But it’s not all good news, as potential F40 buyers should be aware that the F40 delivers one of the rawest driving experiences of any recent roadgoing Ferrari and, on a long trip, an F40 can soon become a complete pain in the backside. Literally. 

They’re noisy and completely impractical, there’s no real boot to speak of (unless you jettison the spare wheel under the front hood), they’re impossible to park, LHD only and the easiest car in the world to a hit a kerb with. But an F40 is also one of the most aggressively beautiful supercars ever built, and today’s draconian legislation means there will never be another Ferrari like it ever again. That’s what makes the F40 such a great supercar buy today. 

Which Ferrari F40 to buy?  

In total, there were more than 1315 F40s built, which means that there are plenty of cars to choose from. Over the course of the five-year production there were a few changes, but generally you will buy on condition and mileage, rather than age or options.

Ferrari Classiche certification is great if you’re looking for an extremely original example. The earliest 50 or so cars can be identified easily due to Plexiglas sliding windows, while pre-1991 model are also desirable due to their lack of catalytic converters.

Ferrari F40 front quarter

Later models were also offered with adjustable suspension, however it’s the fixed cars that are most sought after. US-spec cars differ in a few minor ways. All F40s were originally painted red, however a few have since been re-sprayed a different colour.

It’s also worth noting that the F40 was originally only available in left-hand drive form, although seven right-hand drive examples were produced for the Sultan of Brunei… Although the F40 wasn’t designed for motorsport use from the outset, a hand full of race-spec LM cars were produced by the factory. 

Ferrari F40 performance and specs

Engine2936cc, twin turbo V8
Power478bhp @ 7000rpm
Torque425lb ft @ 4000rpm
TransmissionFive-speed manual gearbox
0-60mph3.7sec
Top speed202mph
Dimensions and weight
Wheelbase2451mm
Length4430mm
Width1989mm
Height1130mm
Weight1100kg

Ferrari F40 common problems

Engine: the Ferrari V8 engine is generally bulletproof, although there are a few things you need to keep an eye out for. Check for oil leaks, which are quite likely from the cam covers, and also possible from the turbo cooling pipes. 

Servicing: regular servicing is the key, so be sure to buy a car that has been pampered. Turbos shouldn’t give trouble unless the car is driven very hard or on track often, while the cambelt should be replaced every two years without fail. 

Brakes: it’s well know that the brakes on the F40 are probably its weakest link. Many cars, especially those used on track, have been upgraded. The standard set-up is okay for road use, but at more than £6000 for a set of discs and pads, make sure they are in good order. 

Fuel cell: as an F40 owner, one of the big expenses you will have to endure is the replacement of the rubber fuel cells. Ferrari recommends this is done every ten years, although US-spec cars were fitted with a much more durable Aluminium tank.

Ferrari F40 engine

Transmission: like the engine, the five-speed transmission is extremely reliable. When cold it might feel a little recalcitrant but as soon as the oil has warmed through it should feel slick slotting into each gear. 

Clutch: like most supercars, the clutch has a pretty short life – especially if the car has been abused from a standing start. Expect to pay around £4000 including parts and labour to replace it. 

Resprays: all but the very lowest mileage cars will have been repainted at some point, so don’t let this put you off. Stone chips scratches are easily picked up, so check the paint carefully. It’s also worth checking the quality of any recent paintwork. A good tip is to check the condition of the headlight covers. Stone chipped headlight covers can be a giveaway to a car that’s had a hard life. 

Engine cover: inspect the underside of the engine cover for any stress fractures or cracks – as this can flex. 

Air conditioning: it’s worth checking that the air-conditioning works as you will really need it in the summer months. 

Trim: carefully inspect the condition of the interior and plastic trim. Most of this can be replaced with genuine parts from Ferrari, but as you might expect this can get frightfully expensive. 

Ferrari F40 owners clubs, forums, specialists and websites

www.ferrariownersclub.co.uk• 
www.ferrariownersclub.orgwww.ferrariclubofamerica.orgwww.ferrariclubitalia.it• 
www.bobhoughtonferrari.co.uk

Ferrari F40 summary and prices 

The F40 is an amazing machine to drive, and offers a pure experience many more modern Ferraris just can’t deliver. This is the key to the car’s success, and why despite the high build numbers, values are so extreme. Ultimately, it’s still a cheaper alternative to the much rarer 288 GTO, and if your intention is to use the car as it was intended, then there are lots of usable examples on the market. 

Prices for the higher-mileage examples start from around £600k today. These will perhaps have been used on track, and most certainly will have been painted more than once. They’ve also potentially been fitted with upgrades that aren’t easily removed, which isn’t a problem unless you want Ferrari Classiche certification.

£750,000 should be enough to find a more original example though. Then there are the collector-grade cars. With minimum mileage and the right history, an F40 could potentially fetch over £1million to the right buyer. If you’re looking for the rare LM version then be prepared to pay a lot more.

Thinking of buying a future classic? Then take a look at these potential future classics...

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
Illegal car modification hotspots revealed
Volkswagen Polo exhaust
News

Illegal car modification hotspots revealed

Gloucestershire has the highest proportion of illegal car modifications, with altered number plates the most common breach
14 Jun 2021
New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power
Vauxhall Astra render
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power

The new Vauxhall Astra will get a plug-in hybrid powertrain and a more premium image - here’s how it could look
17 Jun 2021
Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services
Tesla Model 3 police car - front
News

Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services

Tesla hopes to offer UK police forces a new zero-emission emergency responder option with the Model 3 police car
17 Jun 2021
New Renault Arkana 2021 review
Renault Arkana - front
Renault Arkana

New Renault Arkana 2021 review

Does an eye-catching coupe-SUV body give the new Renault Arkana the edge over other mid-size SUVs? We find out...
16 Jun 2021
New Vauxhall Astra prototype review
Vauxhall Astra prototype - front
Vauxhall Astra

New Vauxhall Astra prototype review

A new Vauxhall Astra is on the way and we've driven a prototype ahead of its official arrival
14 Jun 2021
New Porsche 911 GT3 Touring tones down the styling
Porsche 911 GT3 Touring - front
Porsche 911

New Porsche 911 GT3 Touring tones down the styling

The optional Touring package aims to bring a few creature comforts to the track-focused Porsche 911 GT3
15 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review
Nissan Qashqai 2021
Nissan Qashqai

New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review

We get behind the wheel of the larger, more comfortable and higher-tech Nissan Qashqai SUV in the UK
16 Jun 2021
'I was cynical about Hyundai's aim to be the world's 2nd biggest carmaker, not now'
Opinion Genesis Hyundai Ioniq
Opinion

'I was cynical about Hyundai's aim to be the world's 2nd biggest carmaker, not now'

Steve Fowler is impressed by Hyundai's electric cars, its N division and now its luxury Genesis brand
16 Jun 2021
New SsangYong Korando e-Motion breaks cover with electric power
SsangYong Korando EV
Electric cars

New SsangYong Korando e-Motion breaks cover with electric power

The new SsangYong Korando compact electric SUV will be on sale later in 2021, says the financially stricken South Korean manufacturer
15 Jun 2021
Dacia unveils new badge design
Dacia badge
Dacia

Dacia unveils new badge design

The new Dacia branding will feature on the company’s cars from 2022, with the Bigster being the first candidate
17 Jun 2021
‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'
Gearknob
Opinion

‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'

Want to drive a manual car? You need to take your test in a manual car. So what happens once all driving-school cars are automatic EVs?
8 Jun 2021