What The Hell Is Wrong With The Ferrari F50?

It’s got an F1-sourced V-12. It’s rarer than an F40 or an Enzo. So why is the F50 the unloved middle child in Ferrari’s line of hypercars?

I just can’t put my finger on it. Some say it’s simply not as hard-core as the F40 was. The lunatics! Sure, it doesn’t have the punch-you-in-the-face-‘till-your-nose-bleeds twin-turbo V8 of its predecessor. Instead, Maranello put a V-12 in it, developed from the company's 1990 641 F1 car. In fact, the Italians sourced most of the F50 from that car. (The rest is probably from a Fiat Ducato.) Some also say it just wasn’t as advanced for its time as the Enzo in 2002. Wrong again. Everything Ferrari knew in the first half of the ‘90s is in the F50. And they knew quite a lot.

Soft? Compared to what? A group of Hellfire rockets aimed at your kitchen table?

I’m starting to blame Pininfarina. Maybe it’s simply the fact that the F50 is not as pretty as the F40 or the Enzo. Like me, the F40 turns 23 this year. But while I’m gaining weight due to intense beer consumption, the F40 remains slim, light, and beautiful. Like Sophia Loren, it's aging very well.

How about the Enzo? It took me about a year to understand it after it came out, but time has passed. Believe it or not, the Enzo is eight years old. Hard to believe, as it was so ahead of its time. If it was introduced this year, no one would be complaining about the design. The Enzo is like a bottle of vodka. It just doesn’t, you know, go off.

The F50 is almost four times as rare as the F40. Only 349 were ever made, which makes it even rarer than the Enzo. Yet a good one won’t cost you more than an F40 in similar condition. So is it really just the looks? Must be. What else?

In their February 2004 issue, the staff of Evo magazine voted the F50 the best Ferrari supercar in their 288 GTO vs. F40 vs. F50 vs. Enzo group test. The F50 has even made it to seventh place on the magazine's Top 100 Driver’s Cars list. Again, way ahead of the F40 or the Enzo.

What The Hell Is Wrong With The Ferrari F50?

It must be a fantastic car. No question about it. What's wrong with it? Nothing.

Don't like it? Give me yours. Really. It's no trouble. If you want, you can even pay me to take it off your hands.

Máté Petrány is an editor and photographer at Stipistop, and Jalopnik’s European intern. All photos by the author.