Mechanic wrecks out-of-town owner's $500,000 Ferrari F40

Illustration for article titled Mechanic wrecks out-of-town owners $500,000 Ferrari F40

Last week's crash of a half-million-dollar Ferrari F40 in Houston was more than just an unfortunate accident, it was, according to exclusive details Jalopnik gathered over the weekend, the result of a mechanic's test drive gone horribly wrong.

The photo shows the aftermath: a rare and expensive Ferrari F40 worth at least $500,000 crushed by a fence. The wheels bent, the front-end destroyed, and a man in the background being treated by EMTs. What the photo doesn't show is how the car wound up in its condition.

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We've learned from numerous sources that the Ferrari F40 wasn't being driven by the car's owner, but by a mechanic responsible for the vehicle. In fact, the owner was in Europe on business and didn't even know the vehicle was wrecked until this weekend.

Illustration for article titled Mechanic wrecks out-of-town owners $500,000 Ferrari F40

Eyewitnesses report the car was traveling down Hempstead Road and turned onto 34th Street in Northwest Houston traveling at a speed above 60 MPH, despite a posted speed of 35 MPH along the busy thoroughfare. Some say he was going between 70-to-90 MPH.

"I don't know how fast he was going, but he had to be going 60+ because I could hear the turbos spooling on the car," said Travis Brown, an employee at a nearby store who witnessed the crash. "Next I know I heard tire squealing, then he jumped the curb and hit the fence."

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Whether the crash occurred because of a driver error or a mechanical failure is unclear, but the distance of the crash from where the F40's driver lost control shows he was definitely traveling at a great deal of speed.

"He had to go airborne," said Brown.

Though slightly injured, the driver was alert and standing when EMTs arrived to treat him.

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The owner, who purchased the car new and has been driving it ever since, was shocked when he heard about the vehicle. Because the F40s frame is damaged the car is being treated as a total loss.

"It's just a real screwy deal," said a source familiar with the accident.

Illustration for article titled Mechanic wrecks out-of-town owners $500,000 Ferrari F40
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We're not releasing the name of the owner, but we can tell you he's not one of Houston's famous Ferrari F40 owners — a list that includes Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale and former heavyweight champion George Foreman.

I repeat: George Foreman's grille is still intact.

(Thanks to Josh N. for the photos!)

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DISCUSSION

So, let's see: apparently turbo spooling = "60+", and other witnesses say "70 to 90." *Facepalm*. Ever seen what happens to a car traveling at 60-65mph when it meets a stationary object? Both the car and stationary object don't fare too well, people are usually not "slightly" injured, and the airbags (yes, the F40 had them) deploy. That fence would have been obliterated by a 60MPH car, and instead it's slightly listing to port. A 1100kg F40 doing 60MPH has 395kJ of energy. That's...quite a bit.

Fun fact: people are almost completely incapable of estimating the speed of a car reliably or accurately; the human brain just simply isn't set up for it, which is one of the reasons so many people get hit by trains, suck at merging, etc. Try it some time. Find an empty stretch of road, set up some lawn chairs with friends, and have someone drive by the peanut gallery at different speeds while on cruise control, and either have the driver write down their speed, or use a surplus radar gun (check its calibration with GPS. Also, make sure the speedometer is accurate, again, with GPS. Some older car speedometers are off by 10-20%, especially at higher speeds, and the error can change. Audi 5000/100/200's were infamous for this, for example.) For extra fun, try it with different cars (does the car with the sports exhaust look/sound faster than the minivan?), different drivers, and different distances from the road. Do it by silent ballot: for each run, each "witness" has to write down the speed they think the car is traveling at.

You'll be lucky to get within 10mph, and I'm guessing once the driver hits 40, you'll all think he's doing 60, with overestimations increasing with proximity to the road. I'll bet the sportier cars "look" faster, there's bias depending on the driver, etc.