What do you do after you've earned your first multi-million? If you're a gearhead, it's your obligation to go out and get on a waiting list for a used F40. As a true connoisseur this separates you from the rest of the over-moneyed lot driving new Ferraris. Though no longer the fastest or most technically advanced machine on the road, the F40 still embodies the defining spirit of Ferrari. Outside of the Countach, no other car appears on as many posters as the F40.
The problem is once you're the proud owner of one of the most definitive automotive icons ever you're instantly struck with the desire to breathe some new life into it. Automotive technology has come a long way in 20 years and the F40 is-if nothing else-a worthy recipient of a bit of refreshing. Most owners/tuners turn their street machines into racer or weekend track cars. The owner of this Ferrari took the road less traveled and added just a little more comfort and a lot more power to his F40.
Immediately after its purchase, this F40, chassis number 087181, was shipped to CAROBU Engineering in Costa Mesa, Calif., where it received a proper refinishing. To start, the composite body was stripped and prepped for a new coat of Ferrari's Italian Rossa. To create a more driveable street machine, the owner had CAROBU raise the ride height. The steering wheel, dash, pedals and driver's seat were remounted to better fit his 6-ft-plus frame. These original seats were also reupholstered in red Nomex, eliminating the worn-seat look of this used car. The carbon-Kevlar interior was left in its bare grandeur.
This isn't just a cosmetic makeover story though. CAROBU's main task was to add a healthy boost of brute force, from a baseline of 468 up to 511 bhp. The centerpiece of the new hardware is a set of IHI F40 LM turbochargers, available through Ferrari's motorsport program. These turbos now operate at a maximum 20 psi from a stock boost setting of 16 psi. At peak boost, A/F ratio is between 10 and 11:1 since blowing a F40 engine can be a costly affair. CAROBU performed the custom engine tuning for this setup. A high-flow Tubi exhaust was also added to accommodate the added flow.
Customarily, the LM turbos come with complete with a racing upgrade package, which includes transmission work and higher capacity intercoolers, all of which CAROBU is more than adequately equipped to install. These options were omitted in order to keep the F40 driveable. Only the drive ratio was modified, changing it to a 9.0:1 drop gear, which links the crankshaft to the transmission input shaft, sitting it lower in the car.
Did you notice the F40's horsepower figure is presented in bhp horsepower instead of the normal whp? It's an indication of just how serious the guys at CAROBU are. All engines are tuned and tested on a DTS model 8800 engine dyno, which resides in a fully instrumented and isolated engine test cell.
In addition to EFI and carburetor tuning, CAROBU specializes in rebuilding hard-to-find vintage Ferrari V12 engines for street or track use. The level of care and engineering that goes into these scarce gems is immediately apparent upon entering the shop. It's not like the meticulously clean rooms where F1s are built, but more like an old European craftsman's shop: clean and purposeful, but also aged. The seasoned technicians even wear canvas aprons when working on engines. It's the place I'll take my Ferrari engine when I finally score one-even if only as a coffee-table base.
From the outside, this F40 is hard to distinguish from any other. But even on the streets of Newport Beach, Calif., it still turns heads. If not with its looks, then with the sheer wail of its twin LM turbos.