Prototipo, of course, is Italian for “prototype,” indicating this example’s status as the very first example of the F40 successor ever built. It saw duty as a development vehicle, auto show star, and media evaluation tool. That’s right: if you ever read a “first drive” review of the 1995 Ferrari F50, chances are this is the car your favorite auto scribe was driving.
Per the listing, it was also the model for Shin Yoshikawa’s cut-away illustration and several scale models (including those sold by Burago, Maisto and Tamiya) and its likeness was even depicted on postage stamps.
After this world tour, the Prototipo returned to the Ferrari factory for a complete rebuild, after which it was sold (as promised ahead of time) to Jacques Swaters, a personal friend of Enzo Ferrari. It remained in the Swaters collection until 2007, when it was sold to a Ferrari collector in Burbank, California. It has since changed hands several times.
While it may have lacked the raw, angular aggression of its F40 predecessor, the F50 was no less stunning (or less special) as a result. Its ferocious 4.7L V12 made more than 510 horsepower and 345 lb-ft of torque, which is still plenty respectable even today, especially considering it weighed just a little over 2,700 pounds. That combination was good for a 0-60 run of just 3.7 seconds on the way to a 202-mph top speed.
As CassicCars.com points out, fewer than 350 examples of the F50 Berlinetta were ever produced.
The F50 Berlinetta Prototipo will cross the block Wednesday, Jan. 15th, 2020, at the Worldwide Auctioneers event in Scottsdale, Ariz.