Can anyone resist driving a Ferrari? Difficult. And even less if that Ferrari is a recently developed model and, therefore, one of the most powerful ever built. And if it is too an example that was born as the last creation that Enzo Ferrari saw before he diedthe seduction becomes irrepressible.
It was not the case with the French Alain Prostwho never wanted to drive the F40 that the Maranello company gave him when the French driver joined the Formula 1 team. That model, practically intact and with only 2,843 miles (4,575 kilometres), has just been put up for sale by the prestigious auction house RM Sothebys.
It was 1989 and the Frenchman had just won his third driver’s championship in the top category, driving one of the McLaren single-seaters with a Honda engine, a team that at the time led the way in F1 with the fastest duo on the planet: Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.
An environment impossible to sustain within the Anglo-Japanese team due to the strong rivalry between the two drivers was exploited by Ferrari: they signed the diminutive Frenchman for the 1990 season, in what meant one of the most sensational additions to the world of modern F1 .
Those were not happy times in Maranello and the arrival of the French meant a coup for the Cavallino. The team’s poor performance on the track in recent seasons was compounded by the death of its creator, Enzo Ferrari, on 14 August 1988. It was necessary to rewrite history and for this there was nothing better than incorporating a three-time world champion.
Alain Prost and the Ferrari F40
Prost arrived at the Reds to replace the Austrian Gerhard Berger, and as a gift the Red house gave him a brand new Ferrari F40. It was the most captivating road sports car ever built in Maranello: It was fitted with a 478 hp twin-turbo V8 engine, with which it could reach 324 km/h.
Production of the F40 had started in 1987., in keeping with the brand’s 40-year history (hence the name), which is why Prost was given the unit with chassis number 83.249. The sports one had ended production at the end of ’89, and lacked the adjustable suspension, a detail that made it very different from the other F40s.
In February 1990, already in the name of Prost, the F40 was established in Meribel, in the area of the French Alps, and only a few months later it was sold. Yes, Alain Prost got rid of that Ferrari quickly, although he first left his signature on the roof, which has remained in the unit ever since, protected with a layer of clear sticker to certify that it belonged to the multiple champion.
Prost’s quote: “driving a bad truck”
With those words, Prost ended his relationship with Ferrari. They were pronounced in 1991, when after the Grand Prix in Suzuka, Japan, he was viciously eliminated during a post-race press conference. The car that the team had given him had not allowed him to win all seasonsomething the Frenchman hadn’t recorded in his personal best since 1980.
Those harsh words done from Ferrari take the decision to fire him immediately, so he didn’t even compete in the next race, the Australian Grand Prix. With history doomed, Prost’s disdain for the F40 may even seem like a harbinger of the turbulence they’ve both experienced in their relationship. Prost has never confessed why he didn’t want to use the Ferrari F40 that came as a gift from Maranello.
The other owners of the F40
Graham de Zille, a Ferrari enthusiast and collector by then, was the one who bought the F40 from Prost through a UK marque agency. Then, in 1999, it was acquired by Dacia Darling; in 2004 it was sold to Craig Johnson; in 2006 it went to the garage of Karl McKeowen; moved in with Alistair Dyson in 2007; and in 2016 it was purchased by the last owner before the auction, whose name was not disclosed.
That same year received the Ferrari Classiche certificationwhich confirms the originality of the chassis, bodywork, engine and gearbox, while the “Prost certification” continues to be well protected by the membrane covering the autograph on the roof.
In all this time there have been few spares or forced part replacements to be made on this F40. For example, in 1990, its second owner replaced the original odometer with one with mileage.
When it comes to mileage, and although it’s already 33 years old, this Ferrari F40 shows just 4,575 mileage. In other words, Alain Prost never drove it, as he confessed to RM Sotheby’s, and the rest of the owners only drove it for a few kilometres. According to the seller, the price is found between $2.7 and $3.2 million. Although the value of climbing into an almost brand new Ferrari F40 today is incalculable.
Ben Stock is a journalist working for News Rebeat, where he covers the automobile section. With a passion for cars and the industry, Ben brings insightful and in-depth reporting to his readers.