Ferrari Returns To Supercharged Engines: Turbo Horse Anthology

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Enzo Anselmo Ferrari was a pragmatic man, rarely complying with the demands of the market. It was difficult for him to convince himself of the need to build a mid-engined sports car, which would eventually become a prerequisite for all generations of supercars in the contemporary era.

Generally speaking, that story would repeat itself with the move to supercharged engines. Ferrari has always had a good excuse behind it to take such an important step as adding turbo to its engines. If we look back, a supercharged prancing horse – standard – is a rarity and even so some of its sports cars, the most desired of the last decades, had turbo. We talk about the Ferrari 288 GTO and the Ferrari F40 , the beginning of the boomof supercars, to be adorned with the maximum power per flag and a spectacular design. And for that, any resource fell short when you stuck your head out the window and found that your Lamborghini neighbors were making sports cars as spectacular as the Countach.

Much has rained in all these years. Enzo barely lived to contemplate in his last days the presentation of the last beast he was proud to approve, the Ferrari F40 , an almost posthumous gift for his customers, who literally presented check in hand in Maranello for the scuderia to offer them the opportunity to enter the select list of customers who would aspire to an F40 .

And in all these years, Ferrari had stayed out of this obsession with downsizing , reducing displacement and supercharging, a trend that has also reached sports car manufacturers. It is a war that does not go with them. Although if we can assure you something today is that Ferrari is no longer anchored in the paradigm of the sports car of yesteryear , that they have no qualms about offering a V8, a V12 and even a hybrid and a V8 Turbo in their range . But they are very clear in which car each engine fits. That said, why has Ferrari returned to turbocharged engines?

Ferrari 126 C3

Let’s go back to 1981. Ferrari works on one of the most important evolutionary leaps of the last decades in Formula 1 – like the one that occurred just now, in 2014. By the mid-1960s, Formula 1 had realized that it had Street sports cars almost as fast as their single-seaters and previous restrictions changed to simultaneously accommodate 3.0-liter naturally aspirated and 1.5-liter supercharged engines. Ferrari chose to go from the first to the second in the early eighties, working on different turbo and compressor solutions. Finally, they would be the first ones who would be more effective for the first level competition, fast enough to win. Although to the scuderia it would take sweat and tears to face a season marked by dropouts and reliability problems – Gilles Villeneuve won two races and made a podium, but retired eight times in a fifteen-round championship.

Although street sports cars and Formula 1 had already taken different paths many years ago, Ferrari still understood development for competition and street as a single entity , advocating maximum transfer between product and Motorsport to ensure that its customers enjoyed the latest technology.

Thus, the development of those turbocharged sports cars of the eighties would not be long in coming. The taxes, based on the displacement, were already beginning to add pressure to the Ferrari customer and the prancing horse would find that by reducing the cylinder diameter of that 2,926 cm 3 V8 engine , remaining at only 1,990 3 , and supercharging, no They would only manage to stand up to the treasury, but also offer better benefits.

Ferrari 288 GTO

Thus was born the 208 GTB Turbo from 1982, its brother Targa the 208 GTS Turbo a year later and the Ferrari GTO – with capital letters – in 1984. Ferrari had realized that supercharging completely changed the character of its sports cars, which that would be the spark that would give character to the most imposing beasts that they would manufacture from then on.

The industry was immersed in what Ferrari calls the supercar syndrome . Look for a parallel with the present time and you will find it. Everyone wanted to have the most powerful, fastest sports car, ideally derived from a racing model – ideally a Group B – and marketed in very expensive and limited series. Ferrari had its GTO – to be specific and not to be confused with the 250 GTO of the sixties, its 288 GTO , which for many – including myself – is the first supercar, with all the letters, of Ferrari.

Ferrari 288 GTO , unborn Group B and the supercar fever

The objective of that Ferrari 288 GTO was to sweep away the golden age of Group B, but as you may already know, those spectacularly fast machines were ostracized after such dramatic events as the deaths of Henri Toivonen and Sergio Cresto. Ferrari found it had an excellent racing sports car and no race in which to fly the prancing horse flag .

At least something was clear, a legend of 400 CV had been born from which 272 units would be manufactured, which due to their good reception were well over the 200 that were initially planned.

Ferrari f40

While the last units of the GTO were still being delivered , the inhabitants and visitors of Maranello began to see a spectacular racing prototype plowing through the hills of this beautiful town in Emilia-Romagna. At that time there was no internet or papparazzi to use to immortalize it in those spy photographs that today swarm the network, but speculations were increasing with the proximity of Ferrari’s fortieth anniversary – as a constructor – and with the name they received those prototypes, Evoluzione, without more.

Ferrari F40 : a street-licensed racing sports car

Ferrari wanted to take the supercar concept to the highest level, facing all its consequences. The 40th anniversary horse would be called Ferrari F40 , it would have the appearance of a racing car but it would have been designed solely and exclusively as a legally approved sports car for use on public roads, sharing ground with the Fiat Panda, Uno and Ritmo that were marketed in those years.

Turbos dominated Formula 1 with authority and Ferrari decided to keep the concept that had worked so well for them in the 288 GTO , with a new slightly larger engine – 81.8 millimeter by 69.5 millimeter bore and stroke, increased compression and the irreplaceable work of a pair of IHI liquid-cooled turbos and two Behr intercoolers , as well as a Weber-Marelli injection and ignition system.

With 472 hp, this eight-cylinder turbo supercar was already standing out as a true beast, big words.

Ferrari 288 GTO, F40 and California T

Data sheet

  • 2,885 cm 3 twin-turbo engine
  • Maximum power / torque 400 hp / 496 Nm
  • Power ratio 140 hp / liter
  • Top speed 305 km / h
  • 0 to 100 km / h 4.9 seconds
  • Production 272 units

Data sheet

  • 2,936 cm 3 twin-turbo engine
  • Maximum power / torque 478 hp / 577 Nm
  • Power ratio 163 hp / liter
  • Top speed 324 km / h
  • 0 to 100 km / h 4.1 seconds
  • Production 1,315 units

Data sheet

  • 3.855 cm 3 twin-scroll turbo engine
  • Maximum power / torque 560 hp / 775 Nm
  • Power ratio 145 hp / liter
  • Top speed 316 km / h
  • 0 to 100 km / h 3.6 seconds
  • Production Not limited

Without Enzo Ferrari at the helm, the prancing horse continued to grow, endorsing the definition of a mid-engined sports car ahead of the rear axle, so much so that even today some layman continues to say “I’ve seen a Ferrari” when he looks at a red supercar, be it whatever your brand. The 360, the F430 and more recently the 458 were born, in high-flying sports cars, the F40 would have a successor with the F50 , later the Enzo and now LaFerrari.

Car industry emissions legislation tightens, but does not stifle, low-volume manufacturers, who make just 2,000 cars a year. Even so, Ferrari has found in technologies such as hybridization a key, not only to save fuel, but above all to offer maximum performance and performance unthinkable just a few years ago. We are adamant that the fastest sports cars of this new era are hybrids.

Why are you raising the turbo flag again?

The new regulations in Formula 1 have caught many builders on the wrong foot and onlookers wide-eyed and not quite understanding why cars now sound like a broken washing machine. We know that Ferrari is going to suffer a lot this year, hopefully not as much as in that 1981 season. But all the development they have carried out in competition will be reflected in their street products. It is not that overnight we are going to find a Ferrari catalog dominated by turbocharged hybrids, but those of Maranello have studied the possibilities of each model to incorporate these new technologies used in competition.

Thus, LaFerrari, the emblem of the brand for the next decade, will be a hybrid. While the California T, the Ferrari for all audiences – and for many, that of women – has found its balance between performance, consumption and practicality for day-to-day supercharging.

Ferrari California T

I don’t think that the customer of a Ferrari California T cares too much, but from 13.1 liters / 100 kilometers we have gone to only 10.5 liters / 100 kilometers, a figure that is quite good for a 560 hp sports car that is now more powerful and faster than its predecessor.

It does not seem that at Ferrari they have the rope of the emission regulations tight enough around the neck that in the short term we will see the supercharging in other models, in a 458 Italia or in an F12 Berlinetta. The suitability of these models continues to depend on a naturally aspirated engine, with eight and twelve cylinders respectively, although some of its rivals – such as McLaren Automotive – have opted for supercharging from the beginning.

Ferrari California T: the most docile horse is turbo

Note the following data. The V8 engine of the new California T has reduced its displacement to 3,855 cm 3 (compared to 4,297 cm 3 of its predecessor), using cylinders of smaller diameter and greater travel.

I imagine that you are wondering if the decision to include a turbo in the new California T is for the gallery, which beyond the need to lower the average emissions of its fleet, is little less than a cockiness of those of Maranello to demonstrate your interest in transferring competition technology to street products. After all, the California T is not going to be, like the 458 Italia or the 458 Speciale, the standard against which all sports cars that their rivals present in the coming years will be measured.

Ferrari California T

Today we understand a Ferrari as a brutal machine, forceful, manageable by technology but still delicate in inexperienced hands. Adding turbo can improve performance, but also compromise – and in what way – the ease with which you can safely drive fast. A priori, we could expect that the turbines of a double-inlet turbocharger such as the one used in the Ferrari California T increase the delivery of torque, but also modify the power curve and make the delivery much more forceful, losing the progressive aptitude and Linear eight-cylinder engines with the Maranello seal that we have known in recent years. We are not talking about luxury limousines, a Maserati Quattroporte, but rather sports cars that have been designed to give their maximum performance on the track, always operating at a high rpm. Can a turbo fit in a sports car like a California T?

And here are the keys to the new Ferrari California T. In its development of the new engine or, rather, the power unit of its cars for the 2014 Formula 1 season, Ferrari encountered numerous challenges, such as the search for a linear delivery that was also compatible with the electrical impulse of its hybrid engines, also overcome the lag , the natural delay between when we step on the accelerator and the turbine begins to turn to add that 49% extra torque that they would have achieved for this new California T.

That need for a linear delivery, without jerks and of course without lag, that Fernando Alonso and Kimmi Raikkonen will require this season, is in short the same that customers of a Ferrari California T will have. I think it is absurd that some define it as the More feminine Ferrari, but indisputably this model has been conceived as the most versatile and of course recommended to offer the sensations of a Ferrari and to travel fast safely, to drivers who are not used to the forcefulness of a 458 in Race mode.

Ferrari California T

Ferrari ensures that, thanks to the development of its engines for Formula 1, the engine of the Ferrari California T is the first supercharged engine that has virtually no lag, which translates into the maximum instantaneous response at the moment we step on the accelerator.

To achieve this, they would have worked hard on the twin-scroll turbo unit to constantly maintain the optimal pressure of the exhaust gases through the two turbines, which have been designed with light materials and reducing inertia as much as possible. The architecture of the engine, the position of the cylinders in two benches at 90º and the geometry of the exhaust manifolds have also helped to maintain the pressure of the gases that will reach the turbo turbines.

We already said that virtually this Ferrari California T will lack turbo-lag and I would like to highlight the virtual one, because the delay will continue to exist, although with a delay in tenths of a second we could well ensure that in practical terms it will be negligible.

The Ferrari California marketed until this year offered a maximum torque of 505 Nm at 5,000 rpm. In the new Ferrari California T that figure has increased to 755 Nm at 4,750 rpm in seventh or, in other words, the maximum torque at a similar speed has increased by 50%. We are talking about a not inconsiderable figure, enough to transform an extremely docile and easy to handle sports car for its power, into an unruly beast.

To deal with the torque overdose that its new turbo guarantees, the Ferrari California T has also received a relatively sophisticated system, Variable Boost Management, which is responsible for managing the delivery of torque at all times based on different factors, including the gear is engaged and thus ensure progressive acceleration, with no more ups and downs than those that naturally occur when jumping from one gear to another.

Oh, if good old Enzo raised his head and heard the sound of his cars! Surely you would be surprised that Ferrari has played it with such diverse models, with a convertible and at the same time a coupe, with an all -wheel drive shooting brake , with a screen on the dashboard that connects to the mobile phone that you carry in your car. pocket, with a hybrid supercar and once again with a turbo. Rare times that we have had to live, but as long as they are to continue enjoying the best sports that money can pay, welcome …

Ferrari California T
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