Chris Harris perhaps conveys the most genuine enthusiasm of any of the modern crop of automotive journalists-turned-internet heroes, and perhaps that’s why he’s currently the king of the hill. Well, throw in years of driving experience, an Oxford vocabulary and a penchant for the dramatic, and you get a sense of why he’s currently a host on Top Gear.
His take on the F40 is instantly intriguing. “It’s like a little racing car; it doesn’t want to be agitated, it wants you to treat it with respect,” he observes. It’s a twin-turbocharged, 2.9-liter V8 that builds boost in the archetypal, big-turbo sense of an 1980s supercar. It doesn’t suffer fools, and with the curb weight a little more than a genuine prototype racer, it’s predictably skittish. But that is the sort of thing which has helped solidify the car’s aura and legacy. Harris has driven a handful of race and wonderful flagships, but unlike Jeremy Clarkson, he doesn’t constantly claim the newest car is the best. Resisting the urge for hyperbole, Harris is objective and therefore, his exuberance seems totally authentic. It makes us want one desperately.
The F50 got a bad rap in the media, and was labeled as a soft-serve version of the slightly nutty, full-fat F40. There’s not much truth in that statement, it seems, but since it’s not nearly on-par with its predecessor, Ferrari wisely kept its performance figures vague so that they could sell them for the outrageous prices they asked for them. Oh right – it also got 4 mpg on full-tilt runs, but who cares when you have that raucous wail behind you? It’s heavier and more luxurious, but it borrows the block from Ferrari’s 640. That motor, which is mated directly to the tub, makes it something truly exceptional. No, it doesn’t quite get the same reaction from the discerning Harris, but his screams and ever-present grin show it’s still a real thoroughbred.
What did you expect? However, if we had to take one, the one with the chintzy interior, the fender gaps, and the see-through paint. It’s more of a racing car – and that’s really what a flagship ought to be.