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Old 12-07-2009, 09:14 AM
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Porsche 959 v Ferrari F40

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If you read new car magazines you cannot have failed to notice the latest hyper sports car grudge match featured on every cover: Porsche 911 GT2 versus Ferrari 430 Scuderia. And long has this battle for ultimate road car performance been raging.

Prancing horse gees up

It all began in 1983, when Porsche topped Ferrari’s beautiful 288GTO with its technological meisterstück, the Gruppe B, soon to become known as the 959. Enzo Ferrari was smarting from the trumping meted out by the men in white coats from Stuttgart. He had to ignominiously pull the GTO from any racing programme because he knew it could not beat the Group B contender. A change in the Group B rules helped – but his GTO was effectively bested in the engineering shop without even venturing onto a circuit.

In 1987 Enzo Ferrari celebrated his 40th anniversary at the helm of his eponymous sports car operation by launching the F40, a racing car destined for… the road. Here was a limited-production flagship Ferrari to take the fight to Porsche and win. With a claimed top speed of 201mph and a 0-60mph time of 3.7 seconds, Ferrari grabbed the Fastest Car in the World crown. But, most importantly, it was faster than the 197mph 959. On paper…

Initially Ferrari planned to limit F40 production to just 400. This was then increased to 1000 and final production ran to 1315 examples by 1992. When sales began in the UK the F40’s list price was £193,000, but cars immediately cars changed hands for up to half a million and Nigel Mansell sold his for £800,000, making him as good a car dealer as he was a racing driver. Good F40s command £200,000 today.

Porsche goes hi-tech

First seen at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1983, the Porsche 959 went on sale in 1987, with a limited run of 200 examples. Demand was high so a total of 268 was manufactured, including the racing and test cars. Far fewer than the F40, then. The 959 cost £145,000, speculators drove the price to more than double that and now a good example is worth £150,000.

By late-’80s standards the Porsche 959 was an incredibly advanced and complicated machine. It is reputed that Porsche sold them for half of their actual cost as showcases for its engineering prowess. And it worked: the 959 was a well-proven competition machine, dominating the 1986 Paris-Dakar Rally by finishing in first and second places, with the heavily laden back-up car coming home fifth. In the same year a 959 finished seventh overall at Le Mans, headed only by Group C Porsches. An incredible result.

In the meantime Ferrari constructed its (relatively) mechanically simple F40 racing car for the road, but never went racing. A couple of privateers campaigned F40s in the IMSA Series at Laguna Seca and the BRP Global GT Series in Europe. In LM guise they were beaten by the McLaren F1 GTR at Le Mans.

Today, as modern classics, why is it that the more numerous Ferrari F40 road car commands a hefty premium over the rarer, more sophisticated, race-proven Porsche 959? As our American friends are wont to say, ‘Go figure’.
http://www.classicandperformancecar...._vs_brawn.html

Driving the F40


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But let’s leave that aside for a mo’ and go and drive these two examples, warmed and ready for action on the shoreline of Lake Geneva. Our man in Switzerland, Simon Kidston, procured this immaculate 1990 Ferrari F40 Berlinetta, a rare early example with pre-catalyst exhaust and non-adjustable suspension, and just 11,250 miles showing on the clock. I personally am not much taken with the F40’s Pininfarina-styled looks, but there is no denying it has a pugnacious presence.

With that sharply drooping snout and high rear wing it does look like a road-racer, and a quick one. The 2936cc V8 engine, an evolution of the previous 288GTO mill, with the help of two Japanese water-cooled IHI turbochargers, promises 478bhp at 7000rpm. And most of this forced induction plumbing is visible through the rear plastic engine cover. Very boy racer.

Open the flimsy carbonfibre door and the F40’s interior looks like that of a kit car: simple to the point of appearing homemade. The requisite Momo steering wheel is in place, there is a set of very red racing seats, the exposed Ferrari gearshift gate, a sprinkling of instruments and that’s it. No carpet, no door trim, no weight. And that’s where this Ferrari is a bit special – in the construction of its body and chassis.

Using F1 composite technology of the day, the F40 features a tubular steel spaceframe chassis with bonded-on panels of Kevlar, imparting torsional stiffness without weight. The doors, bonnet, bootlid and other removal panels are all carbonfibre. The result is an all-up weight of just 1100kg, about the same as the notably light Porsche 911 2.7RS Touring of the early 1970s.

Once clambered over the wide sill and cupped into the figure-hugging seat, you clack the door behind you. The Momo is set high and at quite a flat angle. The bare, black composite floor is shiny underfoot and gaps are sealed with what looks like green mastic. The pedals are naked metal and the dash is covered in cheap-looking carpeting, but the instruments are right in your line of vision, with the tacho redline marked at 7750rpm, and the long gearshift perfectly placed.

Check for neutral, turn the key and punch the starter button. The V8 behind you fires without much drama. It initially runs a bit unevenly but dab the throttle and it revs cleanly. Having a flat-plane crank arrangement, it sounds like two eager four-cylinders rather than whoofling lazily like an American V8.
Depress the clutch – ouch, it is heavy – and pull the stiff gearlever back and down towards you for first. You would think that this Ferrari might choose to stall in true race-car style but no, just engage the clutch, add some throttle and the ample quotient of 425lb ft of torque eases the light F40 away.

Trundling through the centre of busy Geneva, the Ferrari is tractable and remains largely calm and docile. The clutch and gearshift are both heavy and you cannot see much behind you, but the steering is alive and sharp and the car seems to swivel from your hips. The untrimmed interior sounds just like a racing car: engine and suspension noise crash through the cabin, while every piece of grit thrown up from the road can be heard hitting the composite tub. Tyre noise rises markedly as we head out onto the motorway leading to the mountains.

Kidston and snapper Bailie in the photo car ahead wave me past as the motorway clears, so I drop a gear and depress the throttle. The Ferrari’s engine spools up and the rev-counter breaches 4000rpm. In a flash it is at 5000rpm and then in the next instant at the seven-and-three-quarters redline. Whilst not quite an on/off switch, the twin-turbo V8 gathers speed at a terrifying rate after about five thou’.
Lifting the throttle to go for the next gear, there is an explosive phzzzooooo! noise from behind my right ear, loud enough to make me almost jump clean out of the seat.

Thank goodness for the racing harness. My first thought is that something must have blown in the engine bay but then it strikes me: must be the turbo pop-off valve. With my heart rate slowly coming down from about 170bpm, I give the F40 another squirt and change up through the ’box, enjoying the accompaniment of the pop-off with each cog swapped.

This Ferrari is frighteningly fast. Your need to recalibrate your brain to absorb information at the speed the Ferrari requires. The rise of revs, the concentration required for the recalcitrant gearshift, the way speed piles onto the speedometer, the way the motorway narrows and other cars come back at you as you fly past. Then the need to process the fast-shrinking distances screaming towards you through the large windscreen. After driving normal historic cars, this is like a computer game – a very hot and noisy one.

Settling in and becoming more comfortable with the Ferrari, you notice that the firm ride is acceptable on the smooth Swiss motorway and the car always feels securely planted. Peeling off and into the mountain roads, the Ferrari attacks a steep climb with gusto. Twirling it through the corners it shoots to the next bend, where you can throw it in, quickly. The well-sorted suspension keeps it flat at all times and on these dry roads grip is no problem, with massive 335-section Pirelli P7s at the rear. But the brakes begin to prove a bit of a challenge, needing a firm shove and not biting with much conviction. As you climb higher up the mountain, the road gets tighter and the Ferrari begins to feel a tad wide. Also, the corners come up more quickly so you have to be careful to judge when the turbos cut in, trying to get them on-boost on the way out and not boosting when going in. Damn hard work but enormous driving fun.

The F40 is basically a large go-kart. It has that typical Ferrari nervousness, feeling tightly wound and super responsive. As well as the less than co-operative gearbox, the throttle pedal is awkward, being sticky when you drive slowly. It much prefers to be down more than half its travel, where all hell breaks loose.

Clambering out of the now very hot Ferrari atop a mountain, I am perspiring and shaking a little. What a car. What an adrenalin pump! This is a supercar of the late ’80s but it feels like a classic of the ’60s. Much faster and more effective, of course, but providing that pure driver feel, unsullied by power assistance, servo assistance, rubber bushing, sound deadening, suspension compliance and all that boring stuff. Fortunately Kidston has arranged a luncheon at his favourite restaurant stop so I have a chance to calm down.
Ferrari F40
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Old 12-07-2009, 09:16 AM
akrama akrama is offline
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Driving the 959

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The other protagonist is the Porsche 959, brought along by historic racer and Lancia aficionado Anthony Maclean. He explains that his 959 is a high-mileage car, having covered 40,000km. That’s apparently a lot in the 959 world. He says the Porsche has proven totally reliable and is perfectly happy to potter about in urban traffic. When the 959 was launched it caused a sensation but today, apart from its large rear tail, it looks almost ordinary.

That’s because so much of it is so sensible and has been adopted by mainstream manufacturers: flush headlamps, integrated bumpers, aerodynamic side mirrors and swoopy, slippery shapes are now seen everywhere.

The Porsche has a proper race-proven engine, as fitted to the 956 and 962 Group C cars. The 2.85-litre flat-six has water-cooled heads, twin superchargers and was quoted as producing 450bhp. Maclean’s car has had the desirable factory upgrade which includes smaller, more efficient turbos with more vanes, and a re-mapped ECU. It now puts out 585bhp, with torque upped from the standard 369lb ft at 5500rpm.
As well as the sensational engine, the Porsche features four-wheel drive with variable torque split, with manual and electronic adjustable settings for different road conditions ranging from Traction, to Ice & Snow, to Dry.

It has a six-speed ’box, double-wishbone suspension with height adjustment, hydraulic and mechanical damping, 51% of the bodywork is of composite material and the drag co-efficient is a slippery 0.32. Phew. Oh yes, it also features on-board tyre pressure monitors as developed for the Le Mans car. And hollow magnesium rims. And run-flat tyres… The list is endless.

Open the aluminium door and you are met by what looks like a bog-standard 911 interior, apart from the very 1980s metallic-looking, Star Wars-inspired seats. Porsche has often gone off-piste with its seats. Remember the lurid Hounds Tooth cloth it used in the ’70s?

The engine fires up like a 911 but the note is slightly deeper. The gearbox chatters, which is slightly odd, but slot the gearlever into first and the noise stops as you release the light and easy clutch. The throttle response is a little soft but the racing car pootles off down the road with no fuss at all. Through villages the Porsche is much easier to drive than the Ferrari. All is cool and quiet inside, with an occasional discreet hydraulic noise from deep in the bowels. The car is narrow and rides beautifully and vision is 360 degrees, with no blind spots; the gearshift is a little rubbery and the steering is power assisted. And yes, it has electric windows, unlike the Ferrari’s quaint manual winders.

Once out on a clear and open road it’s time to see what happens when you give the 959 its head. Drop down a few gears and let it go. Initially the engine spools up gently. Then it starts to tingle – you can feel the engine through the bodywork as if it has very firm engine mounts. The engine wakens one of its turbos, then at about 4500rpm the second turbo cuts in. BANG! The feeling is like someone kicking the back of the driver’s seat. Warp speed: the Porsche seems to physically leap down the road and in an instant you are into the next corner. Hit the brakes hard and the thing just stops. Goodness.

This is a ferociously fast machine once the engine wakes up. It emits a lovely wail which is never intrusive, and through the mountains the Porsche feels fast and composed. It is softer than the Ferrari but more manageable. The brakes are sensational and show up the relative weakness of the Ferrari’s; the ride is fluid, the steering nicely weighted but not as sharp as the F40’s.

Coursing through the Swiss mountains it is abundantly clear that the Porsche 959 is the more advanced machine: it feels decades ahead of the F40, even if not quite as fast. That is probably because it is so refined. In my hands it is faster on the road because the chassis is so clever. It has that typical 911 rear-end weight and the front suspension bobs a bit, but it tracks around bends with precision. You guide the Porsche with your fingertips, where you have to muscle the less-obedient Ferrari with your shoulder and arm muscles.
Driven: Porsche 959

The Verdict

Quote:
So how do these classic supercars feel today? Both are blindingly fast. Maybe the F40 was a cynical money-making exercise but, then again, maybe Porsche was just showing off with the 959. These cars were built to challenge each other but they are entirely different. The F40 is a hot rod, a go-kart that snaps, crackles and pops. The Porsche is a cerebral tool that is immensely capable, if a little sterile. When you drive through towns and villages, small boys react to the Ferrari with glee. They don’t notice the 959.

The Ferrari F40 is a fantastic, hard-core road rocket. It is the perfect track day car and attention-grabbing device. It makes you feel like a racing driver every time you fire it up and that’s why it commands a higher price today than a Porsche 959. The Porsche is the better machine and is quicker in the real world. On motorways the 959 does feel more capable than the F40 and it’s the sort of mile-eater that will get you across Europe in comfort – especially this example, which has the factory engine upgrade.
But the reality is that, in the 24 years since the 959 was first seen at Frankfurt, technology has caught up.

Now, a standard 911 will do almost everything the 959 does, and the latest £130,000 Porsche GT2 will do most things better. The 959 is an iconic car but modern engineering has it eclipsed. The Ferrari F40 eschewed technology when it was launched in 1987. By today’s standards, it is a crazy weapon that sticks two fingers up to automotive convention. That’s why we love it.
Ferrari F40 v Porsche 959: the verdict
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Old 12-07-2009, 02:00 PM
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We already have a (once) hyperactive thread about this duel.
Enjoy: http://www.ultimatecarpage.com/forum...hlight=959+f40
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Old 12-08-2009, 04:50 AM
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As I don't even dare to think about replying on a thread from 2008: I just want to say here that the Ferrari F40 is my all-time favourite supercar. There may be faster or more high-tech cars, but this is my personal choice.

That rear spoiler on the F40 looks better then the current supercars with there flowing lines IMO. Yes, I am a fan of the boxy/square styling from the 80's! And at least on this car it has a purpose (it does not on most Civic's).
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Old 12-08-2009, 05:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Man of Steel View Post
As I don't even dare to think about replying on a thread from 2008...
actually last post was from Oct 2009, but I do agree, with a hand of polish and a good setting the F40 still looks awesome and gorgeous. The 959 just faded into my old memories.
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Old 12-09-2009, 02:56 PM
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The F40 was pure passion and Enzo's last Ferrari. Turbo madness bolted to a ultra lightweight chassis, no electronics and looks to die for.

The 959, typical German high trouser anorak engineering. Awesome technology, super fast. But what else? Its best card was the technology but now that is way out of date. And that old 911 style windscreen angle - god knows how that thing can get to 200mph!
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Old 12-15-2009, 06:52 PM
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I, for one, tend to gravitate towards cars which have a technological pedigree rather than simple, go fast tendencies. I have and probably always be a Porsche man. They are machines that do precisely what they are designed to do, precisely. That's what I love about those boxer sixes from the geniuses at Stuttgart: they never fail.
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Old 12-22-2009, 08:54 AM
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The Porsche was revolutionary but as others stated before typically German (and thus "perfect"), but perfection does not make the Porsche better car than the Ferrari. The Ferrari advocates that raw super car feeling that Ferrari has patented throughout several decades one that is unmatchable even by a Porsche
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Old 12-22-2009, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by R34GTR View Post
The Ferrari advocates that raw super car feeling that Ferrari has patented throughout several decades one that is unmatchable even by a Porsche
This last decade for Ferrari hasn't been "raw super car" in my eyes. Maybe the CS and Scuderia, but that's it. I love the 550 but I don't really classify that as a raw super car; and the 599, well… I don’t know.

Porsche to me doesn't really say raw super car to me either... Carrera GT aside. I look at their premier line up (the big 911’s) as a whole bunch of homologations for GT racing. Which is why I like Porsche, they are focused on the racing… well that could be debatable but you can’t argue that they are the most racing focused.

If we're looking for "raw super car" of that last decade I would saw the title belongs to Pagani. Everything they built seems to be raw. The only anti-raw thing I read about their cars was on the Cinque. EVO said (if I recall correctly) that the designers didn't want to use a paddle-box but the customers insisted.
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Old 12-22-2009, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by LTSmash View Post
Porsche to me doesn't really say raw super car to me either... Carrera GT aside. I look at their premier line up (the big 911’s) as a whole bunch of homologations for GT racing. Which is why I like Porsche, they are focused on the racing… well that could be debatable but you can’t argue that they are the most racing focused.
Yep, debatable.


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Originally Posted by LTSmash View Post
If we're looking for "raw super car" of that last decade I would saw the title belongs to Pagani. Everything they built seems to be raw. The only anti-raw thing I read about their cars was on the Cinque. EVO said (if I recall correctly) that the designers didn't want to use a paddle-box but the customers insisted.
First of all that gearbox is pointless, it's slow and it doesn't provide a better "experience", second yes, customers want that thing, and it seems the new C9 won't be available with a manual at all, if not at least at the beginning. So it basically would mean, if we don't get enough orders for a manual, no way there will be a couple of cars or so with that old manually operated thingy.
McLaren itself designed the MC12-4C without enough space for the third pedal.
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Old 12-22-2009, 04:12 PM
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Old 12-22-2009, 05:24 PM
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unless there is a factory option you just have to spec in your car.. second hand is always the answer with performance cars.
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Old 12-23-2009, 02:48 AM
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So it basically would mean, if we don't get enough orders for a manual, no way there will be a couple of cars or so with that old manually operated thingy.
What the hell, man! By the time I can start to afford these machines the manual will be extinct. I don't know why they continue down this path of two peddal super cars? Did Generation X get lazy along the way or what?

Do people really turn down a special edition Pagani on the basis that is has a manual? That is just insane.
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Old 12-24-2009, 05:49 PM
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How could anybody think that a supercar would be inferior to ANYTHING because it has a standard transmission!? Acceleration times aside, the full manual is way better. I mean, you guys were just talking about raw feeling and supercar excitement. You would feel so much more of that if you got into a Pagani Zonda F simply because of its standard gearbox with short-throw SHIFTER!
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Old 12-25-2009, 03:56 AM
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