GALLERY: Behind The Scenes On Our 1991 Ferrari F40 Film
Our films always aim to share the kinds of automotive stories that capture the essence of why enthusiasts like us love their cars beyond any physical or measurable properties; sometimes that means recounting the tales of obscure machines and their dedicated owners who are few in number but highly passionate, and then there are those centered around creations possessing a universal pull, a gravity around them that pulls us near and creates relationships with each of us in some form or another. The F40 falls emphatically in the latter group. We all know this car, we all have our opinions about it, and it’s safe to say even its detractors must acknowledge its significance not only in the history of Ferrari, but in the evolution and history of the supercar at large.
It lives in the minds of everyone with more than a passing interest in high-performance automobiles, and for a lucky few, it lives in their garage. For father and son David and Cooper MacNeil, this is reality, but it will never be ordinary. As Cooper sums it up so succinctly, “To drive a red F40 really is a dream come true for me.” Having driven race cars for a decade now, it’s not like he’s been plopped into this car after solely spending time behind the wheel of a common commuter car.
The F40 is about as close as possible to a race car for the street, and while that’s a cliche saying no doubt, it’s fitting here given the F40’s responsibility for so many utterances of it. The hallmark of any memorable performance vehicle is not just the capability to deliver speed and high-Gs though, as function without form is not enough to make forge the kind of yearning the F40 creates in so many minds. Indeed, this car represents a case of the form following an almost singular function, but it’s certainly not lacking in looks; at once sleek and full of right angles, defined creases, and punched-out negative space chopped into its planar panels, it is a definitive product of the 1980s that’s also proven its timelessness.
In the film we see the MacNeils’ Ferrari lighting up Chicago streets with its pop-ups, and in this artificially lit night the already otherworldly shape and sound takes on further significance among the constructs of civilian life. It’s strange to say that the street is the F40’s home turf, and while that’s technically true it bears little to none of the typical accoutrements of even the most basic cars. Cooper sums up this lack, and the consequent pleasure because of it, in a single demonstrative statement: “The radio’s the V8 behind you, and listening to that thing is quite special.”
Though a street car by design, this is about as close as a car will come to technically falling into that category, for once on the track—Chicago’s Autobahn Country Club in this film—it belies the fact that the Department of Motor Vehicles will let it legally wear a license plate; “It’s one of those cars that’s just kind of poking at you like, ‘c’mon, c’mon, go faster, you can do it.’”
The F40 then is a car constructed with multiple dualities—pure functionality and faultless form, road worthiness and track-dominating performance—and while we’ve likely all formed a unique relationship with it in some form, it is definable as an example of Ferrari’s ability to create cars like no one else.