Tough, but someone s got to do it
Alex Forrest says, "The opportunity to drive both a Ferrari F40 and F50 on the same day was among the more memorable tasks undertaken in the course of writing Idle Torque". Supplied picture

On one perfect spring day in Melbourne in 1999, I had a day at the office unlike any other. That day it was my great privilege to drive two supercar icons - the Ferrari F40 and the F50.

With its twin-turbocharged V8 making 352kW in a car that weighs the same as a current Ford Fiesta, the F40's performance was simply ferocious. I will never forget the feeling of both of the 335mm rear tyres wanting to break traction in third gear in a car that's now worth about a million dollars.

Even as I wheeled the F40 back towards its garage, my heart rate was still verging on tachycardia. It barely got a chance to slow down because a drive in an F50 followed straight afterwards.

Compared with the F40's peaky turboboosted V8, the F50's more powerful but naturally aspirated V12 seemed tame. By any other measure though, the performance from the F50's Formula One-bred 4.7-litre, 382kW engine was brutal.

While the technical brilliance of these more modern supercars is astounding, I'll always have a strong fondness for supercars from the 1960s and '70s.

Pedalling a Maserati Ghibli with a manual gearbox through the back roads of Yunderup wasn't quite the European autostrada environment the car was designed for, but it was still memorable.

The gear lever movement was heavy and the cold gearbox oil meant the synchromesh wasn't going to co-operate until I'd covered about 50km. Of course, that didn't put me off. This was a Ghibli and the sound of that twin-choke, Weber-fed quad-cam V8 made it all worth it.

After being invited to a Ferrari Owners' Club event at Barbagallo Raceway, I was offered a drive in a bright yellow Ferrari Dino. Its owner also had an F355 Spyder, which I'd taken around the track beforehand.

Stepping into the Dino after the F355, the lightness and delicacy of the older car was instantly apparent.

I'll never forget taking that car through Barbagallo's Esses, up over the hill and down through Kolb Corner. Looking down over that gorgeous bonnet while finessing the steering and throttle was an absolute driving delight.

The West Australian

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