Nicola Materazzi: Father of Ferrari F40 and Master Engineer Dead at 83

Simply put, the Italian engineer changed automotive history—for the better.
A red Ferrari F40.

The chief engineer of the legendary Ferrari F40, Nicola Materazzi, passed away Wednesday at the age of 83. The Italian worked on dozens of significant automotive projects during his illustrious career, including the Lancia Stratos rally car, the Ferrari 288 GTO, the Bugatti EB110, and many engines as well.

Materazzi’s career began at Lancia, where he helped develop the Flavia, Fulvia, and the aforementioned Stratos. After a stint in motorsports at a merged Lancia and Fiat, he was hired to work for the Prancing Horse by Enzo Ferrari himself. Materazzi specialized in turbocharging, and after working on racing cars he began to develop the automaker’s road cars.

He breathed life into the brand’s turbocharged engines when a dying Ferrari appointed him to lead the development of the F40. This essentially cemented Materazzi’s place in the hearts of millions of enthusiasts.

The Italian departed Ferrari in 1987 and continued his career working on racing motorcycles. Then, in 1991, he was contacted by the revived Bugatti to take up its tumultuous EB110 project. That resulted in a carbon-fiber, quad-turbocharged V12 monster. Materazzi also had a key role to play in the specification of the EB110 SS, a lighter, 603-horsepower version of the already impressive machine.

Later in life, the engineer developed the relatively obscure—at least to Americans—B Engineering Edonis in 2000. B Engineering was an offshoot of Bugatti after the company went bankrupt in 1991. The Edonis was a heavily revised version of the Bugatti EB110. It replaced the quad turbochargers with twins, which boosted the engine’s output to 680 horsepower. The Edonis also had a unique body and other features that set it apart from the original car.

Materazzi, as well as being a keen engineer, was a lover of literature. He maintained an impressive library of technical and non-technical works, some of which were centuries old. He formally retired in 2006 after a long career creating machines that won races, pushed technology to the limit, and inspired a generation of enthusiasts. Cars would not be the same without Materazzi. Godspeed.

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