The Ferrari F40 is one of the most iconic cars ever made. Originally conceived a the successor to the Ferrari 288 GTO and to celebrate the manufacturer’s 40th anniversary, the F40 is still a benchmark for modern-day super cars. The supercar entered the market in 1987 and a total of 1,315 F40s were produced until 1992.
The Ferrari F40 was the last built Prancing Horse under direct supervision of il Commendatore ‒ Enzo Ferrari. He died at the age of 90 in 1988, at the same time the carmaker he founded turned to Michelotto, the long-time constructor of Ferrari GT and prototype racing cars for developing a race version of the F40.
Michelotto’s work resulted in the Ferrari F40 LM, a more powerful and lightweight version of the ‘regular’ F40. The chassis was reworked, and a revised suspension was installed. A carbon fiber splitter, rear diffuser and an adjustable rear wing was mounted on the car to enhance its aerodynamics. The pop-up headlights were replaced and the cooling capacity was increased. To save more weight the interior was fully stripped down. Whereas the standard F40 is powered by a 2.9 liter twin-turbocharged V8 producing 478 horsepower and 576Nm of torque, the engine of the F40 LM was upgraded to deliver over 700 horsepower.
The Ferrari F40 LM made its racing debut in the North American IMSA GT Series in 1989. Interesting though, the car did not enter the race under official Ferrari license as parent company Fiat ordered the Maranello based carmaker to focus on Formula 1. Therefore the F40 LM with serial number 79890 enrolled in GT racing via privateer Ferrari France. Jean Alesi entered the one-hour race at Laguna Seca with the F40 LM and finished third, despite being forced to run with engine intake restrictors.
At the following race at Del Mar near San Diego, the F40 LM was piloted by Jean Pierre Jabouille. The former French F1 driver failed to finish because of mechanical problems. But during the 1990 season, Jabouille finished second during the race at Road America near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Although the F40 would not return to IMSA for the following season, it would later be a popular choice by privateers to compete in numerous domestic GT series. The F40 LM which with chassis number 79890, once driven by Alesi and Jabouille, was put into storage.
In 1993 this particular F40 LM was bought by Jean Blaton, a Belgium billionaire and car collector, who also raced in the 50s and 60s under the pseudonym Jean Beurlys. He entered the 24 Hours of Le Mans fifteen times, and finished third in the 1965 race. Despite the fact Jean “Beurlys” Blaton has bought one of the two F40 LM’s which participated in IMSA racing, he wanted something truly unique. So Beurlys contact asked Tony Gillet ‒ also responsible for the Gillet Vertigo ‒ to modify and upgrade his F40 LM prototype. It should be noticed that there are many different stories about this remarkable car, so we will go with the most common version.
This modification, or according to some purists blasphemy, resulted in the roofless F40 which is nowadays known as the F40 Barchetta or F40 Beurlys. Along with the removal of the roof, the double-wishbone suspension was switched to a push-rod actuated coilover system similar to more modern Ferrari’s like the Enzo and FXX. The exhaust system was also modified and re-routed, they now exited before the rear wheels. A full steel roll cage along was installed for safety reasons and to provide more rigidity, as well as a lexan windshield to offer some driver protection.
You might remember the Ferrari F40 LM’s which raced in the IMSA Championship were forced to run with engine intake restrictors. So with the modification of the F40 LM into the roofless F40 Beurlys the restrictor plates were removed to maximize the performance of the 760 horsepower twin-turbocharged V8. Thanks to this, the F40 Beurlys is able to accelerate to 100km/h in 3.1 seconds and the top is almost 370km/h.
Despite the powerful performance and unique history of this rare car, it failed to live up the expectations when it was auctioned in 2005. The car wasn’t sold for its estimated worth of $ 195,000, which is relatively speaking a bargain for a Ferrari F40. Perhaps this is due to the fact this car is not regarded as a real Ferrari anymore. The Italian company never gave its permission for the modification and demanded that all the Ferrari logo’s were removed, including the F40 logo on the sidewall of the rear wing. The same issues also haunted James Glickenhaus’ P4/5 Competizione and the New Stratos.
An alternative history suggests the F40 Beurlys is in fact not even a Ferrari at all, but a fiberglass replica powered by an Alfa Romeo engine. Whether or not these stories are true, fact is that Ferrari won’t recognize the F40 Beurlys as an official Prancing Horse. Sadly though, not much is known about its current whereabouts. For those interested, it appears the car is still being offered for sale.