Ferrari F50. Did Enzo bottle out?

Back in 1989 Ferrari unveiled a Pinninfarina designed, wedge shaped concept car called the Mythos; a two-door open topped sports car with a rear mid mounted 4.9 litre 12 cylinder engine. This car was claimed to have a top speed of around 180 mph and apart from the show model only two others were reputed to have been built, both at the request of the Sultan of Brunei.

Fast forward to 1995 and the launch of the next evolution of the Mythos, the F50, sometimes known as the type 130. This was now fitted with a removable roof; the engine was a 513bhp 4.7 litre V 12. Typically of Ferrari racing experience was built into the car and it could fairly be described as a Formula One racer, adapted for road use.

Weight was pared down apparently regardless of cost. The chassis was made not of steel but of carbon fibre. The gearbox housing was in a magnesium alloy, as were the wheels and cam covers. Use was made of titanium. The fuel tank was rubberised to protect it in the event of a collision. Bodywork panels were in Kevlar and Nomex (a fire resistant, rigid and tough polymer). In a gesture to comfort and stability, body roll was minimised electronically.

This was a beautiful looking car obviously built for speed and performance and it showed; top speed was 194 mph with nought to 60 in 3.7 seconds.

Three racing versions, the F50 GT, were built but never raced. The competition looked a little to fierce to Enzo, and finance was a major consideration as well. This has led many people to look upon the F50 as a failure. Every new Ferrari was supposed to be faster around the track than the previous one and to smash more records. This one didn't even try.

Furthermore there wasn't the usual marketing hype put behind it. Normally when a car built by such a prestigious company as Ferrari is launched test cars are provided to car magazine reviewers; but Ferrari didn't. In order to review the car one journalist had to persuade an owner to lend his car to him so that he could put it through it's paces.

This was a very expensive car; and a thirsty one, as well. A potential top speed of over 200 mph was claimed by Ferrari but 194 mph was the most that a reviewer could get out from it; hardly slow but not the world beating performance that Ferrari buyers were used to.

The F 50 stayed in production for two years, during which time 349 units were said to have been sold.

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