Enzo Ferrari founded Scuderia Ferrari in 1929 but it wasn’t until March 1947 that he produced a car that bore his own name. Having prepared Alfa Romeo race cars during the 1930s and run the racing department, he left Alfa Romeo and created his own company in 1939. It was named Auto Avio Costruzioni and its first car, the Tipo 815, was launched in 1940. Not surprisingly, it saw little use.
After the Second World War, development began on the 125 S, which became the first vehicle to bear the Ferrari name. Powered by a new 1.5-litre, twin- cam, triple-Weber V12 engine designed by Gioacchino Colombo, the new race car was spaceframed, with a light alloy body, and could achieve 130mph.
Unveiled in March 1947 and first raced in May, the 125 S (Chassis 01C) was used intensively, completing 13 races. Its sister car (Chassis 02C), which had a slightly different body and sported cycle wings, was raced six times.
From this initial design and with the collaboration of engine designer Colombo, Ferrari built a reputation for fast if fragile race-winning cars that saw them produce Formula 1 and GT racers and a host of race-derived road cars. After 40 years of successful design development, Ferrari was confident to celebrate its success with an anniversary model to commemorate that first true ‘Ferrari’.
The F40 began life as an evolution of the 288 GTO to race against the Porsche 959 and others in Group B but, when the FIA pulled the plug on that racing programme, Ferrari was left with the 288 GTO Evoluzione cars. As the company’s 40th anniversary approached, Ferrari decided to develop these Evoluzione cars, rename them as the F40 and sell them for road use.
‘We wanted it to be fast, sporting in the extreme and spartan,’ stated the marketing department at the time. With its twin-turbo V8 and carbonfibre, Kevlarand aluminium body, the F40 became the company’s fastest, most powerful and most expensive car thus far. It was also the final car to be approved and signed-off by Enzo Ferrari himself.