What’s the fate of most modern supercars? The vast, vast majority of them will sit silently in spotless garages of the well-off, doing nothing outside of being dutifully rubbed with a diaper by the owner’s hired fleet manager between an occasional trip out on the town in 20mph city traffic when said owner needs an ego boost. What a pity.
So it was refreshing to see an unnamed rich person dial up /Drive journalist Chris Harris and ask him to take two of the most sought-after Ferraris ever made, the iconic V8 turbo-powered F40 of the 1980s and its spiritual descendant, the V12 F50, and rail them around a racetrack again and again and again.
And I do mean rail. Harris says he was told to drive the two cars the way they were meant to be driven, not take them on some parade laps or baby the throttle. The result? Just over 20 minutes of true supercar track antics as the cars slip, power slide and positively roar around the tarmac. It’s grand fun with a jubilant and star-struck Harris declaring “this was one of the best days of my life” in his YouTube description and practically wetting his knickers as he powers the cars around the curves.
The takeaway? The legendary F40, which is essentially a barely civilized F1 race car with lights, turn signals and little else besides A/C, is still absolutely mental on the track, a full 25 years after it first debuted. There’s no power steering, no traction controls, no paddle shifters (it still used the even-then archaic gated shifter), no airbags, not even power windows – you cranked them down by hand. While Ferrari said it made about 475 horsepower, Harris and his idol, driver Mark Hales, who was also in on the gig, admit the F40 likely made 500hp or better. It was one of the most incredible – and last – pure driver’s cars before computerization took over.
The F50, which arrived in the late 1990s and was dismissed by some as lesser than the F40 because it was deemed down a bit on power (especially torque) and up on weight and luxury appointments, made do with a normally aspirated V12 sporting 60 valves total (5 per cylinder) for a heavy-breathing 513 horsepower. It also features active suspension damping, a lot of carbon fiber and an insane 8,500rpm redline.
While Harris clearly prefers the overall performance of the stripped-down F40 on the track, the sounds made by the V12 F50 are an aural gift from the petrol gods.
Judge for yourself (best seen in full screen HD and volume set to loud) and then let us know your lotto-winning choice in comments below.
by Bill Roberson