U.S. government off the hook over the wreck of a $750,000 rare 1995 Ferrari F50

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 12, 2011

U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn dismissed a lawsuit filed against the U.S. government over the wreck of a $750,000 rare 1995 Ferrari F50 sports car that an FBI agent had been driving. The car had been stolen in Rosemont, Pa., in 2003, but it was later recovered. The FBI kept it as part of the probe. Judge Cohn said that under federal grant, there’s immunity if the property is being held by law enforcement.

He said that it’s unfortunate that the rare vehicle sustained a lot of damage but he asserts that in this case, the government can’t be sued.

Motors Insurance, which is headquartered in Southfield, Mich., said that what happened in 2009 is that an FBI agent and a prosecutor took the car for a joyride but the agent lost control of the vehicle in a Lexington, Ky., industrial park. The U.S. government has insisted that it won’t pay for the car, according to ChicagoTribune.

The government hasn’t provided a lot of details but according to an email released to the insurance company, Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Hamilton Thompson stated that he received an invitation to go on a “short ride” on the Ferrari F50 before it was going to be transferred to an impound garage.

Thompson said that FBI agent Fred Kingston, who was driving the car, lost control and they hit bushes and a small tree. The insurance company argued that the vehicle wasn’t in custody since the insurer had given permission for the U.S. government to hold the car. The judge doesn’t agree with this statement.

He said that the government didn’t hold the vehicle to “create a status of either consent or punitive coercion” but instead, the purpose was to “control and preserve relevant evidence." The 11-page decision was released on Sept. 27.

It was when the FIA back in 1964 declined to accredit the 250 LM that Ferrari made the decision to put more of their energies in motor sport efforts on Formula One. By the time the 1960s was over, this shift in focus resulted in the company’s race cars diverging from its road cars. To make sure that this gap was lessened, the company started offering limited production road cars that displayed its Formula 1 technology while being able to pay its efforts for Formula 1.

An example of this is the F50. However it is not the first limited edition road car from Ferrari but rather it was the 288 GTO. This model was released around 22 years after the 250 GTO, and was considered as one of the last race cars and dual-purpose road cars.

Similar to the model before it, it received approval for racing. The company wanted to be part of the Group B rally and even created 5 unique GTO units. However, by the time the Group B series held its last race by 1987, the 288 GTO never had a chance to be part of it. It was then that the company decided to build and release a second limited production road car. Inspired by the 288 GTO Evolution, the company came out with the F40, just in time for its 40th anniversary.

It was equipped with various racing-related technologies like composite body panels, a steel space frame that was reinforced by Kevlar, and the IHI twin turbochargers. Since it was meant to be in line with its racing heritage, there were few, if any, features aimed at comfort. As such, the F40 did not have any door panels, power windows, radio, or even carpets. When it was released in 1987 by Enzo Ferrari, the F40 became known as the fastest road car.

Its acceleration record from 0 to 60 mph was top notch for years. In fact, figures for acceleration and speed were at the top even a decade after it was first created. Due to its excellent performance, the F40 completely dominated the supercar market. Though the company only built 279 units at the start, they were forced to manufacture in excess of 1,300 units due to the increasing demand.

For its upcoming 50th anniversary, Ferrari intends to come out with a new limited production supercar. Given the success of the F40, it was difficult to make a follow-up as it needed to be impressive. The result is the F50 which continues to have the Formula 1 technology. This time, the company made sure not to make any compromises to the comfort level.

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