The definitive bedroom poster Ferrari of the 1990s, the F50, is one of the most eye-catching lots featured at RM Sotheby’s upcoming Monterey auction. That’s at least the humble opinion of this writer, who spent many afternoons evading AI cop cars and brazenly running lesser exotics off the road in Need for Speed as a youth.
According to the auction house, the F50 was unveiled at the 1996 Geneva Motor Show as a preemptive celebration of Ferrari’s 50th anniversary in 1997. Within the Italian marque’s timeline, it bridges the gap between the mechanical genius of Prancing Horses past and a high-tech future.
In collaboration with Turin’s famed Pininfarina coachbuilder, the carbon fiber body’s shape was formed in wind tunnels, with deep air intakes in the front hood, a curvier take on the 1989 Ferrari Mythos Concept’s shell, and a gargantuan rear wing similar in stature to the preceding F40.
Held in place by solid mounts is the 4.7-liter V12, a screamer with an 8,000 rpm red line that was derived largely from the F1 engine raced by Scuderria Ferrari until 1991. Six speeds on the floor put 512 horsepower to the rear wheels.
Likened to a “Formula 1 car with windshield wipers and a passenger seat,” Bilstein created some of the first electronically adaptive dampers, while hefty Brembo brakes allow the F50 to scrub off speed quickly after maxing out at 202 mph.
After watching the flagship best the F40 by four seconds on a lap around the Ferrari’s Fiorano test track, then-president Luca di Montezemolo declared the F50 “the first and last Formula One car with two seats” in a 1995 Motor Trend review.
Only 349 F50s were ever built. The example on offer here, chassis No. 104262 dated 1995, is one of just 55 that made it to the United States. And for such a relatively “new” classic car, it has a rich provenance.
See excerpts below per RM Sotheby’s:
Completed on 23 February 1996, this F50 was delivered new shortly thereafter to noted Ferrari collector Stanley Cohen of Windsor, Connecticut via Miller Motorcars in nearby Greenwich, Connecticut.
Accompanying invoices on file illustrate regular, annual maintenance visits in line with the factory-recommended schedule. In January 2013, this F50’s highly original status and factory equipment were successfully certified by Ferrari Classiche. The accompanying documentation on file illustrates that the car still retains all of its major components, including its 4.7-liter V-12 engine, six-speed transaxle, carbon fiber bodywork, chassis, differential, and suspension components.
Notable servicing completed during Cohen’s twilight years of ownership include a “major” engine service in January 2017, and the fitment of a new fuel bladder, tires, and brake lines in August 2017 to the tune of nearly $51,000 USD. Cohen regularly enjoyed but rarely, if ever, exhibited his F50; the only recorded showing of the car came in June 2004 at the fourth Annual Hartford Concours d’Elegance. Cohen sold the car in January 2018 to the consignor, then showing just under 8,375 miles since new.
[In January of 2019], the consignor entered 104262 for judging at Cavallino XXIX in Palm Beach, Florida. To the surprise of absolutely none in attendance, this eminent F50 was crowned the “Best F50” of the event, scoring over 98 points when judged—thereby securing a revered “Platinum Award” as well. The car received another major service from Passalacqua at P1 Motor Cars at the end of January 2020, and more recently, had its annual service there in March 2021.