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We're Gaga About This Rare, U.S.-Spec 1991 Ferrari F40

The twin-turbocharged V-8 Ferrari supercar is one of a few hundred originally shipped to the U.S. market.

The Ferrari F40 is an incredible vehicle; a refugee from an alternate universe in which Ferrari entered Group B rallying with a fury. Descended from the 288 GTO, it was also one of Enzo Ferrari's pet projects in his twilight years—one of the final incarnations of his legacy. For the rest of us, it was one of the perfect poster vehicles, offering fascinating and otherworldly shapes and angles from every viewpoint—the perfect thing to lay in bed and contemplate.

Details such as the wing and its little gills, the pop-up headlights over the glassed-in elements, the NACA ducts in the hood, and the all-business mesh panel housing the absurdly simple taillights simply made car enthusiasts go gaga. Hell, the "F40" logo itself does the trick for some. It's all outrageous, more an air superiority fighter sans wings than a beautiful Pininfarina road car. And unlike modern supercars, the F40's simple curves and sharp edges can be taken in at a glance—it has one strong form, purposeful and clear.

Peek inside, and it's a barrage of wonderful contradictions. Manual window cranks sit on a vast, bare carbon-fiber panel. A gated manual shifter and Veglia analog gauges face sport buckets woven from space-age material.

The engine seems like something you might find today in an entry-level Ferrari. Imagine a new Dino, rocking a mid-mounted twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V-8 with 478 hp and 424 lb-ft of torque. You could read that line in 2020 and not bat an eyebrow. But this car debuted in 1987, and the F40 weighs just 3,000 pounds. These aren't really numbers that translate to modern eyes, because horsepower has become such a plentiful commodity—just look at the 488, the first mid-engined Ferrari since the F40 to use a twin-turbo V-8, albeit with very different output figures.

But whereas the 488, great as it is, is hard to distinguish from its 458 predecessor (at least to a casual observer), there's nothing quite like the F40. It's radically different from the 288 GTO that preceded it, and likewise from the F50 that replaced it. It celebrated 40 years of Ferrari and still captures the imagination more than 30 years later.

Ferrari actually made a lot of F40s, more than you'd think, so seeing one for auction isn't quite the same event as seeing a real 288 GTO hit the block. Those are far rarer. That doesn't mean that the F40 is affordable. General valuations put even shoddy examples at nearly a million bucks. But this one, being auctioned by RM Sotheby's, is one of just a couple hundred examples originally sent to the United States. And it has reasonable mileage, too, with 6,500 claimed turns of the odometer. In other words, it hasn't been sitting in a bubble its whole life. This thing's had some exercise and recent service.

Do your due diligence, and then if you've done (very) well for yourself, maybe you can take that poster off your wall and put an F40 in your garage.