Italian engineer Nicola Materazzi created the iconic Ferrari F40 supercar – the last car to be personally approved by the legendary Enzo Ferrari.
The creator of one of the world’s first true supercars, Nicola Materazzi, has died in Italy at the age of 83.
His car, the Ferrari F40, was an outrageous twin-turbo V8 road rocket — with a peak output of 352kW and a top speed of 324km/h — that battled for supercar supremacy with the Porsche 959 in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The two iconic supercars could not have been more different — the Porsche with refinement and all-wheel drive against the stripped-out F40 road racer — but both were the subjects of posters on bedroom walls around the world.
Formula One stars Nigel Mansell — whose personal car sold for £1 million in 1990 — Gerhard Berger and Eddie Irvine were among F40 owners, and several cars came to Australia despite being left-hand drive and not road-legal locally.
Prices for Ferrari F40s now routinely top $2 million. A pristine example sold last week at the Gooding & Company auction at Monterey Speed Week for $US3.965 million ($AU5.7m) against a pre-sale estimate of $US2.75-3.25 million.
Materazzi talked to Ferrari about the idea for the F40 as early as 1984, then a failed rally program with its predecessor — the 288 GTO — cleared the path for what became a 40th anniversary model.
“Build a car to be the best in the world,” Ferrari reportedly said.
The result was a raw, mid-engined beast with a twin-turbo, 2.9-litre V8 engine, a five-speed manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive.
There was no power steering, air-conditioning, radio or any floor coverings on the car’s carbon fibre monocoque body, with a pair of red racing bucket seats.
The F40 was revealed on July 21, 1987 and, despite an original sales target of 400 cars, a total of 1315 were eventually built through to 1992 including an LM race version — 515kW and 367km/h — to compete at the Le Mans 24-Hour race.
At its launch, Ferrari claimed a 0-100km/h time of 4.1 seconds and a standing 400-metre run in 11.9 seconds, with a top speed of 324km/h (201 miles-per-hour).
“It was a lightweight car with a lot of power and that’s what makes it fun to drive,” said Ferrari’s chief test driver, Dario Benuzzi.
Although Materazzi is best known for the F40, his work as an automotive engineer began at Lancia and he also worked for Bugatti in the 1990s.