Icon: Ferrari F40 LM Barchetta
An one-off F40 that Ferrari doesn't want to acknowledge
This may look like a FakeRari, but it really isn’t. It was actually based on the former IMSA GT racer and it even had more power than the original F40. Here’s the story of it.
Ferrari F40 LM Barchetta. Credit: Forza Rossa blog
Back in the 1980s, Ferrari F40 was “the car” to have. Yes, there were some other cars like the Countach and Porsche 959, but the F40 was the one most of us fell in love with. It was Enzo’s final project, and it’s one of the greatest cars ever made. The 2.9-litre twin-turbo V8 was producing 471hp, which was enough to propel it to the magic mark of 201mph (323 km/h).
But, the program needed to continue with more models, and Ferrari decided to hire a long time Ferrari racecar maker Michelotto to prepare the F40 LM. The death of notorious Group B class could’ve killed LM’s future, but Ferrari stood its ground and prepared the car to race in the North American IMSA GT racing series.
Ferrari F40 LM. Credit: Supercars.net
The F40’s chassis was strengthen with a lot of carbon fiber and had completely new springs. The V8 engine had the same 2.9-litre displacement, but the turbochargers were boosted a bit more. Now, with an increased output, the F40 LM was able to accelerate 0-100 km/h in 3.1 seconds and reach a top speed of 229 mph (368 km/h), making it a lot faster than its standard version. But, the F40 LM was given a power limiter, which only allowed it to produce 720hp. It’s still a lot, though.
F40 LM interior. Credit: Supercars.net
The F40 then evolved in other variations so that it could remain competitive in other racing series. The new cars were F40 GT, F40 GTE, and the F40 Competizione. Ferrari didn’t do much to adapt the original F40 LM to other racing series; just some safety changes and power restrictions. But, one of the original IMSA racers went off the radar for a few years.
The factory prototype F40 LM (serial number 79890), was sold in 1989 to Jean Sage for Ferrari of France. That same year, the famous F1 driver Jean Alesi raced this prototype in an IMSA GT race at Laguna Seca, where he finished 3rd. He also qualified 7th in the seconds race at the Del Mar Raceway, but retired after mechanical failures in the 10th lap. In 1990, Jean Pierre Jabouille raced it at the Road America, coming in 2nd. This chassis proved to be successful in its racing career and was later bought by a Belgian-born billionaire and racer Jean Blaton, who raced under the alias Jean Beurlys.
Jean Blaton aka Jean Beurlys. Credit: Automobile Art at La Tartine
Jean had quite a racing history, finishing many 24 Hours of Le Mans races in the 1950s and 1960s, mostly driving Ferraris. So, when he bought the F40 LM, he wanted to make it different. He wasn’t really happy with having a car that any other collector could also purchase, so he called Tony Gillet to propose a certain upgrade. Jean’s first idea was to cut the roof off of this Ferrari. Many Ferrari enthusiasts will agree that changing the looks of a Ferrari is blasphemous. Ferrari even ordered Jean to remove the F40 logo as well as the Scuderia shield. Apparently, the Prancing Horse wasn't really happy with this project, and they didn't want to acknowledge it as one of their own. Well, most Ferrari fanatics (including me) do recognize it as a Ferrari.
Credit: Forza Rossa blog
They started the project by reengineering the double-wishbone suspension with a push-rod coilover and gave it a 4-wheel independent setup. Then, the car was taken to Gillet’s workshop where the car received some drastic changes under the supervision of the original builder Michelotto. They had many ideas on how to remove the roof, and once the final decision was made, they sliced it off and applied clay to the original car in order to settle on the design idea before any molds were taken.
Apart from the roof removal, they also changed the exhaust system, now exiting just before the rear wheels (like on the Dodge Viper), and the rear end was given a bit of makeover. When they removed the roof, the car lost a lot of its firmness, so they needed to install a very strong tubular steel cage around the driver’s cell as well as roll-over hoops...in case something serious happens. The windshield was made out of a single piece polycarbonate sheet (or lexan) to give the driver some protection. The interior remained original, and this yellow one-off Ferrari came to life.
What’s interesting is that, when building the car, Michelotto took the opportunity to remove the power limiter, so the engine could breathe out its full output of 760hp (40hp more than the standard LM). The new car never received an official name, but in the Ferrari community it is known as the F40 LM Barchetta or F40 Beurlys. Whatever you decide to call this 229 mph monster, it won’t change the fact that it’s one hell of a car.