The Sultan of Brunei has a lot of cars. It makes some people mad. I might be among them. But at least his case of The Car Sickness resulted in some of the most interesting Ferraris ever built, even if they weren’t exactly what Ferrari itself had in mind for the F40.
Now, we’ve tried to give our readers a true and accurate assessment of just how many F40s ended up in the Sultan’s possession for years now, but the secretive sovereign of the tiny Asian nation has long made it difficult to get good information. Luckily for us, the crew at Car Throttle have done another excellent animated clip in the vein of their McLaren F1 investigation, giving a true and complete listing of all the F40s the Sultan of Brunei had modified before he took delivery.
In case you need a little recap, the Sultan of Brunei has long spent his oil wealth on special cars. Aside from his aforementioned McLaren F1s, he’s had bespoke Bentley SUVs, Ferrari 456s converted to station wagons, a number of one-off Aston Martins and other interesting machines, one of his major automotive projects was amassing a collection of Ferrari F40s.
But these weren’t just any F40s. The sultan wanted his cars to be right-hand-drive. And trimmed in leather. And painted a bunch of colours that weren’t offered on the red-only limited-production supercar. Ferrari wouldn’t build F40s like that themselves but the company was happy to turn a blind eye for Pininfarina’s custom car guru Paolo Garella (of reborn Stratos and Ferrari P4/5 fame) to do the magic themselves.
The result was a veritable host of F40s, almost all of them converted to right-hand-drive and all featuring leather interiors and colour combos that were far from stock. In this video, Car Throttle went right to the source (Paolo Garella himself) for the truth behind the cars.
We once reported on estimates between six and ten modified F40s going to the Sultan in an article about the cars that found their way back to Europe from the Sultan’s garages. Those two cars were sold by UK Ferrari dealer Talacrest, which had a hand in the initial order by the Sultan.
This video, which purports to put all rumours (including a wild one about crates of replacement parts getting flown into Brunei after nights of street racing) to rest and give a definitive listing of all the royal F40s, puts the count at 11, with the seven road cars initially converted by Pininfarina, another two F40 LMs including the famous black car with the red pinstripe, and two more cars that apparently never left Europe, a yellow RHD car and a grey one with the steering wheel on the right as well. Garella says those cars were built before he got to Pininfarina so their exact history remains a little hazy.
What the video also mentions is a couple of performance mods that a number of the cars received. In addition to new paint and revised interiors, some of the cars got new exhaust packages and ECU flashes that boosted power and torque figures above the already impressive performance of the stock F40s.
Of course, performance upgrades don’t matter much if you don’t drive your cars, which is exactly what Garella told Car Throttle happened to most of them. Like many of the Sultan’s cars, apparently a majority of the F40s languished without a single mile on the odometer. Three cars did make it out, including one of the LMs, the yellow one, and one of the grey ones.
The story of their sale by Talacrest is recounted in Máté’s story linked above. They’re really special cars, even if they aren’t exactly traditional. But I’ve always loved a painted F40, and the grey one is just right for me. Or maybe one of the green ones. Argh, I’m so indecisive sometimes.