Ferrari’s 40 year tribute to the company’s founder is my personal favorite. While the F50 may certainly be easier to drive, with superior cockpit ergonomics and wide, flat naturally aspirated torque curve, the F40 rewards the steady and practiced driver. F40’s do not simply submit to any driver; drive without respect, and it will bite.
As road-legal supercars go, the Ferrari F40 is well balanced and responds well to race-proven tuning and modifications. Exploring the large performance envelop at the racetrack is most enjoyable when one considers a few upgrades for maximum preparation.
First step in hard-core track preparation is improving airflow to the front brakes. The original deflect-in-the-general-direction-of-the-rotor duct is not good enough. You’ll loose your pedal after just a few laps, or must do a cool-off lap every two or three, depending on track and driver. Proper ducting is to the center of the rotor/hub assembly, like the F40LM or GTE. I’ve built these, takes a bit of time and fabrication experience, but not too tough.
I also recommend adding an evaporative brake cooling system, too (kits available from Tilton). This aspirates water into the brake ducts in the nose, giving the water enough time to mix well with the air, like humidifying the brake cooling air. This system adds quite a bit of additional cooling capacity, to the point that when a client forgot to turn the system on at Road America and the pedal went very soft, he flipped the switch and the pedal was firm in two corners.
Slotted Brake Rotors
Running slotted and not drilled rotors increases component life. The OEM blue Pagid R4-2 pads are just fine, I’ve run many brands and there was no true standout, all the leading brands performance is similar. One will have to do scientific evaluations to see a performance difference.
Calipers and Fluid
Rebuild the brake calipers every six weekends. Use good fluid like Castrol’s SRF (not LMA) or my cost per dollar favorite manufactured by Dow Chemical and sold under Ford Heavy Duty, Wilwood 570, and Performance Friction Z Rated.
The stock brake balance is biased too far rear for slick race tires, I installed an adjustable proportioning valve and removed the OEM fixed rate valve in the rear brake circuit. The ultimate solution here is the F40LM pedal box available from Michelotto. However, the prop valve works very well.
Six point harness modification: the shoulder mounts are in every chassis. I’ve converted the seats on many F40’s, not too tough mechanically. The difficult part is finding a high quality upholstery shop to sew up the holes you must install in the stock seats. Or install F40 LM seats, available again through your Dealer, if you desire authenticity.
Other modifications I’ve done are all for performance improvements, not necessarily track reliability. Like conversion to proper racing suspension via adjustable dampers and different spring rates, Ferrari Challenge bushings, anti-roll bar links, removing weight, chassis bracing, larger Garret turbochargers, carbon-carbon Tilton clutch, drop gears for improved acceleration, Lexan wind screen, fire system, electrical cut-off switch, magnesium wheels, proper slick race tires, carbon fiber dual element rear wing, front splitter, F40LM style nose for increased front downforce, and 2-way radio.