How the Ferrari F50 was a Bridge Between Generations

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The 1990s hypercar was part prancing horse past and part Ferrari future.

Watching the above MotorWeek retro review of the Ferrari F50 is a trip down memory lane…and a reminder of how important the car was in the history of the Italian automaker.

Back when the F50 came out, getting car news was a slower process. You could learn about industry developments when they were announced on TV (such as on MotorWeek) or wait until you got a car magazine in the mail to read about which new models were coming down the pike. It wasn’t like today when you can just swipe and press your thumb on a cellphone screen to get the scoop on cars that won’t come out for another two years.

The constant flow of current information these days makes it easy to forget that the F50 was a collection of carbon fiber body panels wrapped around a 4.7-liter V12 and set on top of a carbon fiber monocoque. The fact that engineers saved even more weight on the F50 by equipping it with magnesium 18-inch wheels, drilled pedals, and manual windows might have slipped your mind by now. Perhaps you’ve lost track of the V12’s main stats, so we’ll remind you: 513 horsepower and 347 lb-ft of torque, which made the F50 capable of hitting 60 mph in 3.7 seconds.

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One thing in particular that MotorWeek‘s review brought to our minds was the fact that the F50 holds a significant place in Ferrari history. Like the car before it, the F40, it had a basic interior, rear-wheel drive, and a manual gearbox. It had traces of Ferrari’s past, which is especially meaningful now because the F50 was the last Ferrari hypercar with a three-pedal setup.

However, those reminders of yesteryear were under layers of the brand’s future. For instance, the F50 was the first Ferrari of its kind to come out after the death of founder Enzo Ferrari. Instead of a turbocharged V8, which was used in the F40 and 288 GTO, the F50 had a naturally aspirated V12 – something that its 2000s successor, the Enzo, would use.

A lot has changed since the F50 was the most potent of prancing horses, but nothing changes the fact that it was a turning point for Ferrari – which had to be taken without power steering.

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