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XCAR: Ferrari F40: Analogue animal
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XCAR: Ferrari F40: Analogue animal

16:59 /

The Ferrari F40 was born to race. John Pogson, an F40 expert and former racer, takes a couple of these Maranello monsters out on the track for some old-school fun.

[MUSIC] [NOISE] [MUSIC] Well, the F40 story actually started with a, another model, with a 218 GTO. It was launched in 1984 as a limited edition special prototype. And shortly after that, Ferrari got the idea of competing in the FAA Group B rally, and going up against the Porsche 959. So built five GTO Evolution cars. And as we all know Group B racing spectators were getting killed and, and it was getting out hand. So unfortunately Group B racing. And rallying was, was knocked on head. Leaving Ferrari with, with five prototypes and nothing to do. The F40 was thought about and developed using the five 28A GTO Evolution cars, so they had a job. And reading be, between the lines, I think Enzo Ferrari realized that. This was probably getting to the end of his life and he wanted to leave a legacy with a very special car. That was the first 200 mile an hour motorcar. And that was a big deal it's very significant to Ferrari being the last car that Enzo Ferrari was involved with it's built in a, in a very, very special way even though Ferrari do not mix at a shop for racing, trust me, that is a race car. There are no interior lights. There are wind up windows. There is a, a cable to pull to get out of it. There is what looks like bathroom ceilings on the floor, which bonds it together. The gaps on the doors are crazy, but it is a crazy car. It looked like it had been built around the Marca Ferrari. [MUSIC] [INAUDIBLE] Not on a production line. The quality of bits and pieces were ridiculous. But it just takes your breath away. And all these years later, it still does. I've said this many times, when asked, what is it like, to, to by driven in, or drive an F40. And my answer is that you definitely should be able to get one on the national L. So this country would never have depression I promise you. My first experience was a, a passenger coming back out of [UNKNOWN] in Italy and when the turbos come on and I'm a, and I'm I aren't an experienced driver eh. It does take your breath away, it does physically take your breath away. The sheer velocity of the car under acceleration, you, you feel that this is a 1,400 horsepower, not 400 and some horsepower. It, it's quite uncanny. But I remember coming back from, from Italy and I was again a passenger in the middle of the night. And the, the, client who was a racing driver, thought it was funny, to come up on the, on the French motorways, behind the truck, that's doing 40 miles an hour, quite quickly. And look as though he's gonna drive through the truck. And at the last moment use it as a chicayne. And this is what racing drivers do [MUSIC] So when it was my turn. I was, approaching a 40 mile an hour [UNKNOWN], a little bit over 70. And, I pretended to fall asleep in the middle of the night. I, I sat nodding like this. And, and because he's a brave racing driver, he didn't wanna bottle out. I made him in the end, so John, and of course, I used it as UK and then got him back, it's a phenomenal experience. I got involved With the Ferrari 40 right at the beginning, I flew to Italy to collect a new motor car that was going to become the first. Racing car, the first race in the fall team in the country, and I spent time at the Michelob Tour factory learning how to tweak these things driving the car back to Yorkshire. I was going up the tours [UNKNOWN] and that's going in the air. I was with the clan, and it was my turn to drive and we were traffic hopping because quite clearly this car. Was ballistic on the turbo charges, so one line of traffic and a gap eight cars in front. basically, you hit the gas pedal and you arrived in that gap and, and I happened to a, arrive in a gap with a police chief in, in, right behind me, and they seemed very ecstatic about what I'm doing and I, I, the way there were waving at me, I think, actually, they approved [MUSIC] In 1994, while preparing a 308 Lightweight for a client in Belgium, at the Spa Francorchamps circuit, I witnessed a race involving over half a dozen, maybe 8, F 40 LM's and GTE"s. In noticing such a race, going to tell a source. Three abreast into the corn, the spitting flames, the noise. It, it was just something that it, i, it stuck in my mind and will do till me dying day. Never thought, in my wildest dreams, that in 1996 I would be in that race, in an F40. And I was, and it's one of these two that's behind me. And on a Saturday morning, I qualified in a started [UNKNOWN] on wet, wet racing tires. In torrential downpour. It was that bad that the only way where the breaking points were was to look left of the scenery. And I qualified that car third on the grid. A [UNKNOWN] at 40. Afterwards, back in, in our camp, in the paddock, I, I was in the back of the truck, taking my overalls off. And I started to shake. And then I started to cry. And it was the adrenaline that was running out of me that was so extreme. We [UNKNOWN] the record around [UNKNOWN] in that car. Mainly because they changed the circuit, but it still sounds [MUSIC] In 1999, a guy named Richard Percy offered me his F-42, to win some championships faster than the other car that is behind me, and in fact I won the 99' championship. Really spooky that out of 1,200-ish cars, these 2 cars that were lent to me as consecutive chassis numbers, which is really odd, it's a really spooky thing, I don't know what that means. But it is true. It's the first time these two cars have been together. What is extraordinary is that I can sit in those two cars blindfolded, and I would tell you, without even starting them, which one is which. These are cars that. You do strap on. You, they do become another part of your body. And, I, get quite emotional about the old Spit Fire boys. And the, they get reunited with a Spit Fire. And they, they sit in the, the airplane and 80 year old, 90 year old. Like the Spitfire's familiar to them and if I ever live to that sort of age, I'd like to think that that would happen to me. That these cars would feel natural to me. And and of course, I'd expect to be given a couple of laps in the driving seat. Richard, who races [UNKNOWN] himself, in club racing, and I are going to ride the cars. So really get [UNKNOWN] up. I have to mention that I'll be wearing my 2001 race suit, which in actual fact still fits me, to be running one of the cars that I had all of those stories and all those battles in. I'm sure the memories are gonna flow back. [NOISE] [MUSIC] In actual fact, for me to say there are no computers in an F-40. Actually is incorrect, because there are sensors in the drivers fingers, there are sensors in your bottom, and there are sensors in your feet, and they're connected to the master computer, and you strap this thing on, this becomes an extension of your body. Those days we're gonna go as soon as the electronic cars came. And that's what happened. Our natural progression was to be an electronic car. A 360 challenge, a 430 challenge, and, and it didn't happen. And I'm not really sad that it didn't happen. It's the electronic age and I'm a, probably a dinosaur. I didn't really have a racing career, this, this was just someone lending me cars and going and winning championships. And we, we did it in a very serious manner. We didn't understand, second. Adam Sandler was my mentor but didn't know that, and I learned everything from that man. There was no second, [UNKNOWN]. I remember one special time at Donnington with the 96 car, and it was the first race of the season. I got poor position. Off the line, I lost all the gear box selection. And 32 cars passed me. And, I managed to get a gear, and chase the cars. And I caught the cars and it was quite a dramatic race. And, I kept losing gears, and in the end I decided to leave it in fourth gear and try to win the race. My team. I saw that I'd broken down and started packing up on the pit wall and I won the race. Just. I didn't know that my father and my mother and my children were in the crowd to [UNKNOWN] and I said to the boy, I said if we take first blood at this. Of this championship. I'm gonna stand on the money, and I'm gonna get it. So with my helmet on, and straight out of the car, turn on the [UNKNOWN] and I, I, okay, and just there is my dad and mom, and they're just crying you know. And that was very special. My dad would be very proud, my mom would be very proud. I just wish that they were here today to see this [INAUDIBLE]. To me, the, the F40 is the last of the breed, and that's important to me, that breed is important to me. After the F40. We got cars that weren't as dramatic, but this was only a sign of the times. We could never produce another F40 for many, many reasons. So we're looking to [INAUDIBLE] experience an F40 in 1987. We're looking to [INAUDIBLE] that because. Shortly after that the world changed and attitudes changed and today Ferrari makes some fantastic machinery and, and their every bit as good as everybody else's top super car. But they don't make your heart race, they don't make you tremble when you get out of [MUSIC] An F12, for example, [UNKNOWN] when they're 40. And that will never be repeated. When we look back on this, and, I tear in the eye, to be fair. Because it's almost like we were all plugged in to the adrenaline. And the time came to unplug it, and it's very difficult to live with. Those times were special times. Ferrari is my life. I started with it in 1975. I knew nothing other than Ferrari 'til today. Still doing it. It's a name that's often misunderstood, it's Ferrari [MUSIC] [INAUDIBLE] Ferrari could be a bit of show-off, and a bit of a flash sort of thing. But, it is a mystique. If you read the history books, and you understand who and what Enzo Ferrari was. How he, he shaped, the Formula One, of the time. And, The mystique behind the man and the product is, is, I can't think of any other manufacturer that shares that. I, I'm quite proud, to say that I am, part of Ferrari. if, when my time, has run, when my race is run, and I go to the racetrack in the sky. I would love to think that I've made just a tiny little bit of difference. [MUSIC]

Alex Goy is XCAR's Cars Editor. He loves all things on four wheels and has a penchant for British sports cars - the more impractical the better. He also likes tea.

Nick Wilkinson
Video Producer / XCAR

Nick Wilkinson is XCAR's Producer, so can either be found huffing serious quantities of exhaust fumes armed with a camera or making a montage of some kind. His background is in video, and as a film and motorsport nut finds himself in heaven most weekdays

Drew Stearne
Content Director & Editor / XCAR

Drew Stearne heads up the XCAR team and has spent the last 7 years producing content for CNET, GameSpot and many other CBS Interactive sites. He's equally obsessed with fast cars as he is with filming and photography, if he isn't involved with one, he tries to make sure he's involved with the other.