When Ferrari unveiled its long-awaited replacement for the ageing 512 Berlinetta Boxer in 1984, the jaws of the collective automotive world dropped. When first shown, the Testarossa was what journalists love to call a “controversial” design. Some were in awe of its aggressive proportions and in-your-face angularity. Others saw it as garish and offensive, an affront to the curvaceous 512BBi it had replaced. Either way, it was like nothing anyone had ever seen; an attention grabbing supercar that put Ferrari back on top of the world. While it was controversial in its day, the Testarossa has aged remarkably well – one of those great intangible feats of the best Pininfarina designs. In its day, it was impossibly wide and low, but as today’s cars have grown in size, the Testarossa looks positively delicate in comparison with a modern Ferrari.
Stylistically, the Testarossa was in another galaxy compared to the outgoing 512BBi. Mechanically however, they were closely related. The 4.9 liter 180 degree flat-twelve engine was derived from the 512, but with new alloy four-valve cylinder heads capped with red-wrinkle finish cam covers – an homage to the Testa Rossa sports racers of the late 1950’s. Side mounted radiators were fed through the signature massive, straked vents in the body sides. The increased cooling capacity, better breathing and a bump in compression translated to 390 horsepower, enough to propel the angular Testarossa up to 180mph. To handle the newfound power and performance, the Testarossa’s chassis was a heavily reworked version of the BB’s, but it was lengthened, widened, and finely tuned by engineers to provide an exceptionally well-controlled ride balanced by stable and predictable high-speed handling. To this day, the Testarossa remains an outstanding driver’s car. Its communicative steering, satisfyingly mechanical gearbox, and well-judged ride add up to make it a revelation when compared with today’s bone-jarring supercars. It is also comfortable and, unlike the Boxer, can carry a reasonable amount of luggage to your destination, making it a very practical supercar. The car-crazy kids who had Testarossa posters in their bedrooms have now grown up, and demand has increased dramatically for this icon of the 1980’s.
The 1988 Testarossa presented here is a very fine example showing just a shade over 30,000 miles from new. The black on black color scheme looks fantastic on the Testarossa and is a pleasant departure from the vast majority of red cars. Paint quality is excellent, and appears largely original with correct matte black sills and spoiler. A clean Carfax report confirms no accidents or untoward issues. The black leather interior is wonderfully inviting – purposeful and sporty yet comfortable for long journeys. There are no rips or tears, the seat side bolsters are in very good order (a typical trouble spot) and the leather dash shows no signs of shrinking or peeling. Under the big engine lid rests the extremely clean and tidy 4.9 liter flat twelve. It has recently been given an engine-out service, and it appears all was cleaned and carefully detailed before being re-installed. This is a sorted, usable and very attractive Testarossa and it could just be the perfect tool to help you finally realize your childhood dreams.
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