Nostalgia. The Ferrari F40, the masterpiece of Enzo Ferrari was born thanks to a humiliation by BMW

Do you know why Enzo Ferrari was so eager to see it finished? Here is the story of the F40 as told by the engineer who designed it.

Nicola Materazzi was born into a medical family and took an early interest in cars. When he was four years old, he asked his parents to read the car pages of the newspaper to him every day.

After a promising start to his career at Lamborghini, where he participated in the design of, among others, Miura and Countach, Materazzi was poached by Enzo Ferrari.

In 1979, he joined Ferrari’s prestigious racing division. He became chief engineer for the design office, while Mauro Forghieri was technical director. Turbocharger specialist, Materazzi will develop this technology at Ferrari.

The F40 was to be built in 400 copies.

Phone calls from the boss

One evening while in his office, Materazzi receives a phone call from Enzo Ferrari. The boss asks him for advice on a new engine to be added to the range.

Enzo explains to Materazzi that the engineers are designing “a three-liter turbo engine that develops around 330 horsepower”.

Materazzi interrupts Enzo Ferrari and replies that such an engine should provide more at 400 horsepower, “otherwise it’s pointless”.

Enzo Ferrari, surprised, pauses for a long time and then continues: “Very good! Do it yourself! “This is how a third department was born at Ferrari.

In addition to the racing department and the road car department, Nicola Materazzi is now coming, all alone in a room.

Once the back cover is lifted, the mechanics are revealed

Once the back cover is lifted, the mechanics are revealed


We are in 1986 and Ferrari is going through a complicated period. They no longer win in F1, and on the road car side, sales tend to run out of steam, and Enzo is aware of that.

The coup d’etat will come from one of his friends, Pietro Barilla. The Italian pasta maker takes a drink with Enzo as he explains to him that his son manages to match a Ferrari’s performance with a BMW!

The day before, the kid managed to run from a Ferrari 308 at the wheel of his new BMW M3. Enzo Ferrari is in shock. He calls his study office.

But his men confirm to him that this BMW actually does it just as well as a Ferrari … for half the price. For Enzo Ferrari, it is too much humiliation. The answer will soon be heard.

The interior is exclusively dedicated to performance.jpg

The interior is exclusively dedicated to performance.jpg

Design of the best sports car in the world

Meanwhile, Nicola Materazzi continues to work. Its engine is ready and it develops 400 horsepower. Enzo Ferrari receives the engineer at his office: “You made the engine, you want to make me the car that comes with it”.

The 164 project was born, it was to give Ferrari the opportunity to drive in Group B too. Unfortunately, a few months later, the FIA ​​banned these monstrous rally cars, which were considered too dangerous.

The goal, which was to sell the Ferrari customer a car to drive in rallies and on the track, collapsed. The F40 project should have stopped there. But Enzo takes Nicola Materazzi aside and slips into it: “

“If you want to make this car, work on it on Saturday. The guys are busy with 308 Quattrovalvole and 328, we must not distract them.”

The F40 was the most powerful, fastest and most expensive car in the world

The F40 was the most powerful, fastest and most expensive car in the world

The hunt for CX

At Pininfarina, we are working on a revised version of the GTO Evoluzione. But during a visit to the bodybuilder, engineer Materazzi realizes that the car is definitely not aerodynamic. He takes his prototype, works on it for a few weeks and comes back to test it in the wind tunnel.

The verdict is inside, an excellent CX of 0.29. Impressed, Enzo Ferrari secretly sends a pilot to test the car. After a few laps, the verdict is clear: “You can not kill this car. I have never driven anything so efficiently ”.

Materazzi will also work on the bodywork

Materazzi will also work on the bodywork

The ultimate masterpiece

This time, Enzo is convinced. Not only has he just found a way to shut down the competition, but he wants to make this project the best sports car ever built.

He is aware that this will definitely be his last blow, and he gives his engineers one last instruction: “Do not play the time. Be quick. I’m starting to get old and I really want to see this car come out. “

The Materazzi team is working hard. Every week, Enzo comes to the news. Every week he insists, “Can’t we do it faster?” The month of May arrives and the time to choose the place and date of the official presentation of the F40.

Everyone at Ferrari chooses a presentation at the Frankfurt Motor Show in October. A hypothesis ignored by Enzo.

Some F40s had glass side windows, others had plexiglass to save weight.jpeg

Some F40s had glass side windows, others had plexiglass to save weight.jpeg

A real earthquake

Enzo feels weaker and weaker, and he knows he will not last forever. For him, the car must definitely be presented before the holiday. In an emergency, we find a date: July 21st. That day, the car was presented to the press at the Fiorano track. It is a triumph, the car world is amazed.

Enzo can now go in peace. After announcing that only 400 copies of the F40 would be produced, the sales department received 900 faxes with reservations! The day after the presentation, Materazzi can finally breathe for a few days.

He takes the opportunity to visit his mother. Before leaving the factory, he took a detour to the office of the boss of Ferrari. Enzo informs him that he will take over the technical management of the brand when he returns from vacation.

When he returns from vacation, Materazzi discovers that someone is occupying his position. Not only is there a new technical director in his place, but one is a vulgar engineer directly from Carraco, an Italian tractor manufacturer.

For Materazzi, it’s too much he’s resigning on the spot. The two men will never talk to each other again. A few months later Commandatore dies. Enzo Ferrari and F40 go down in history.

Leave a Comment