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Car Tales: A 1989 Ferrari 'Testosterone'

‘I’ve always loved Ferrari Testarossas, a car whose every attribute seems to suggest that it should really be called a Ferrari Testosterone, an unquestionably masculine car that looks even sexier when driven by a woman.
‘The Ferrari Testarossa is something of an underrated gem: it has such an attractive design. If you want a seriously dramatic-looking and driving classic Ferrari supercar that you can be reasonably confident won’t bite you back with horrendous surprise bills, the Testarossa is that car.
‘In the second half of the 1980s the Testarossa was virtually a character in the fabulous third series of the TV show Miami Vice, directed by the great Michael Mann, and currently available on Amazon Prime. The plot of the influential series involved a pair of undercover cops, played by Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas. To personify flashy 1980s’ Miami, the Johnson character drove a Ferrari Testarossa, often at very high speeds. The iconic TV show played an integral part in the success of Ferrari’s mid-engined supercar.

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‘Including revised variations, almost 10,000 cars in total were produced, making it one of the most mass-produced Ferrari models. Premiered at the 1984 Paris Auto Show, the Testarossa was a two-door coupe with a rear-mounted, five-speed manual transmission which added to the drama of driving this exotic Italian vehicle, a stunning piece of Italian ingenuity with great agility thanks to its aerodynamic shape. The car’s rear mid-engine design – with the engine between the axles but behind the cabin – kept the center of gravity in the middle of the car, increasing stability and improving the car’s terrific cornering ability. The Ferrari Testarossa had a 4.9 liter longitudinally-mounted, 180-degree flat-12 engine. It managed to hit 0-60 in 5.2 seconds while top speed was rated at 180 MPH, insane figures even by today’s standards let alone the 1980s.
‘One of the distinct design cues of the Testarossa was its unique side strakes. The slits were added to comply with American laws that state huge side intakes should not be left open as it could pose a safety threat. Designers worked around the legislation by adding the now-iconic ‘cheese grater’ strakes along the sides of the Testarossa. This was one of the major design features of the Testarossa. The taillight design was also unique to the Testarossa with horizontal slats running along the width of the car.
‘For the 1992 model the Testarossa was re-engineered and introduced as the 512 TR (an abbreviation of course of Testarossa). After further developments – 1994’s F512 M, for example – the Testarossa was faded out in 1996 to be replaced by the front-engined 550 Maranello grand tourer.
‘I always imagine Ferrari Testarossas being housed in the most luxurious, air-conditioned garages – with Persian rugs for them to lie down on and perhaps even with their own swimming-pool in which the car can take an early morning dip.
‘But one I came across recently was the very opposite of that. By now you’ve probably taken a look at the pictures. But here’s the story. It was really something else. About two years ago I purchased a Ferrari Testarossa from a doctor at Cedar Sinai hospital in Los Angeles. It was a great car. Recently I got another call from a further doctor at the same hospital who said he had a Ferrari for sale and asked me to come over and view it.
‘Of course my ears perked up, because when somebody mentions they have an older Ferrari you never know what you’re going to find.
‘So I went over there.
‘At first I could hardly see the car for all the other stuff in the garage.
‘But when I got a close-up it turned out to be a 1989 Ferrari Testarossa. But it hadn’t been driven for a very long time. As you could tell from (A) The fact that the car only had 30,000 miles on it; (B) There was so much dust on it I couldn’t at first tell with certainty what color it was. It turned out to be nero, Italian for black.
‘The car, however, seemed in terrific shape. And I could tell from the copious receipts that it had been truly cared for: one bill alone came to almost $10,000.
‘The owner was gathering together his money to buy some real estate so the car had to go.
‘The owner was gathering together his money to buy some real estate so the car had to go.
‘And the opportunity came to me.
‘Just goes to show, you never know what’s tucked away in your neighbor’s garage. Now, just like Don Johnson in Miami Vice, I’ve got rolled-up jacket sleeves. As I set about washing clean my Ferrari Testarossa.
-Alex Manos, Owner

2 replies on “Car Tales: A 1989 Ferrari Testosterone”

  • tom says:


    I enjoy getting and reading. your periodical stories, keep em coming.

    Was wondering if there is any market for, or what the current market value is, of my old 1980 Mercedes 280SL? The last I checked about ten years ago the value was rather low because it was a European model with a straight six in it. It’s in pretty good condition, with a little rust damage, and has been a garage queen for most of the time since I owned it (about 30 years). It actually runs very well on those rare occasions I haul it out for a spin. It has two tops and the interior is in very good condition.

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