There’s a gallery on the NY Daily News website entitled simply ‘The many women of Eric Clapton’. You can take a look, if you fancy, but – spoiler alert – he’s had a few. He’s had a few Ferraris in his time, too, such as the F40 for sale at GVE London.
But if Clapton’s list of exes is impressive, his Ferrari back catalogue is simply off the scale. Picking three at random, there was a 250 GT Lusso – thought to be his favourite Ferrari, a 275 GTS owned by the actress Jayne Mansfield, oh, and the one-off SP12 EC, built to pay homage to the 512BB.
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As far as Ferrari is concerned, Eric Clapton – who was likened to God in the late 60s – is A-list material. So much so that, when the Enzo was launched in 2003, ‘Slowhand’ was one of the first of three customers to take delivery – and the first in the UK.
Like the majority of Enzo customers, Clapton could have asked for his car to be shipped to his beloved home in Surrey, but instead he flew to Maranello to collect it himself. On the way back, he was pulled over for doing 145mph in France. That’s one way to ensure an Enzo is run-in.
Choosing a favourite Ferrari must be like being asked to name the number one lover. For the 275 GTB read Carla Bruni, for the 599 GTB read Patsy Kensit, for the Daytona read Pattie Boyd. But where does that leave the Ferrari F40?
More Sharon Stone than Naomi Campbell, perhaps? Look, this is a needless diversion from the crux of the matter – the F40 formerly owned by Eric Clapton is for sale, and it could be yours in exchange for £925,000.
Ferrari F40: the ultimate supercar?
The world has run out of clichés and superlatives for the Ferrari F40. It stole the show at the 1987 Frankfurt Motor Show and immediately became the subject matter of choice for boys looking for new bedroom wall material. Suddenly the Testarossa was, like, so 1984.
Given Clapton’s obsession with Ferrari, it was almost inevitable that he would own one of the finest cars to emerge from Maranello. He bought his first Ferrari – a 356 GTC – before he could drive, teaching himself the basics on the drive of his Surrey home.
In his autobiography, Clapton wrote: “I collect Ferraris, an obsession that goes back to my friendship with George [Harrison]. One day in the late sixties he arrived at my house in a dark blue Ferrari 356 GTC. I’d never seen one in the flesh before and my heart melted.
“At that point, it was like seeing the most beautiful woman on earth, and I decided, there and then, that even though I couldn’t drive, I was going to have one too. He gave me the number of the dealers, I called them, and got driven over to the showroom in Egham, where I ordered a new 356 GTC like George’s, for the princely sum of four grand.
“They delivered it to Hurtwood, and asked me if I’d like to test drive it, to which I replied, cooly, ‘No, I’m too busy. Just leave it, thank you very much.’ So they left it in front of the house.
“I had no licence, and had only driven an automatic, so set about teaching myself to drive using a clutch, in that Ferrari on the drive in Hurtwood.”
The 356 GTC inspired a succession of Ferraris, with Clapton changing them regularly, not least because he only had space on the driveway for two cars. When something new came along, an old one was asked to leave.
Eric Clapton buys the F40
Clapton bought the F40 in 2000, before selling it to its current owner in 2003. From the service records it would appear that the car – chassis number 90645 – was serviced by Maranello in Egham, with 7,944km on the clock. Three years later the odometer had clicked over to 8,770km.
As a 1991 car, the F40 is fitted with a catalytic converter, but not the optional adjustable suspension. At the time, this was considered to be a desirable extra, not least because you could raise the ride height when encountering a speed hump or raised kerb. Today, some consider the standard suspension to be preferable.
Like each one of the 1,311 F40s that left the factory between 1987 and 1992, the car is powered by a twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V8 engine developing 478hp at 7,000rpm. Top speed: a smidgen over 200mph. The 0-62mph time: 4.1 seconds. Such details mattered on the school playgrounds in the 1980s.
That it holds a special place in the history of Ferrari is in no doubt. The F40 was the last new car presentation Enzo Ferrari attended before his death, and Ferrari’s way of saying happy 40th anniversary to itself. A quick gathering at the local trattoria in Maranello would have sufficed, but that wouldn’t be very Ferrari.
This was no bloated 80s show car, all shoulder pads and big hair, designed to cash in on the supercar boom at the end of the decade. The body was built mainly from composites, the first series production car to use mainly composite materials for its body panels, while the interior was as spartan and stripped back as a Scandinavian dining room.
All cars were left-hand drive, with the driver cocooned within a red cloth covered sports seat and facing a satin black finished, three-spoke steering wrapped in leather. Creature comforts were kept to the absolute minimum, with the lucky owner surrounded by plain or painted composite material surfaces.
The windows were of the keep-fit variety, while the door release catch was little more than a section of wire nestled within the naked door pockets. The near obsessive levels of attention to detail ensured that the F40 was a devastatingly capable road car and a brilliant response to the other supercar battling for bedroom wall supremacy in the late 80s: the Porsche 959.
Little wonder wealthy people were queuing up to secure a slice of Ferrari history, with some F40s changing hands for a million pounds. It makes GVE’s £925,000 price tag seem like exceptional value for money.
If you’re a rock musician on the verge of greatness, with or without a driving licence, take a leaf out of Eric Clapton’s book and get on the phone to GVE London. It might not give you ‘God-like’ guitar skills, but it’ll certainly look great parked on the drive.