Enzo Ferrari was an interesting character. A man that kept with tradition and was incredibly passionate about his racing team. Originally, Enzo felt that producing any sort of mid-engined car had the potential to be detrimental to his companies success as he felt buyers would find the dynamics to be too difficult to handle. His mindset quickly changed when his race team began losing to cars that were being propelled by engines situated happily behind the driver. Gauging the success of the Miura, Enzo felt it was time to bring this new layout to his very own production cars. Some of the first Ferrari's to adopt the new layout were the "Dino" sports cars, but it wouldn't be until 1973 with the "Berlinetta Boxer" that the prancing horse would have a mid-engined sports car.
Following the 365 and 512 BB cars, the Testarossa would become an evolution of the chassis, with new updates to the powertrain as well as other changes. The new name came from the famous 250 Testarossa racers from the '50s and early '60s as well as referencing its very own iconic red cylinder head covers. The new coupe was re-engineered completely and rectified a few known issues with the "Berlinetta Boxers" such as excess amounts of interior heat because of how the radiator hoses were routed (the radiators were in the nose of the cars and the hoses went through the center hump) and emissions compliance issues.
The Testarossa came to market in 1984 and was premiered at the Paris Auto Show to an enamored crowd and enjoyed a production run till 1991. From 1991 till 1994 (now known as the 512 TR), the coupe received a slew of updated such as Nikasil cylinder liners, a revised intake and exhaust system, a new Bosch engine management system, as well as a single plate clutch.
The TR enjoyed another update in 1994 to elongate its production until 1996. Adding to the new features from 1994, including a new name. Now known as the F512M ("M" stood for modificado), the new upgrades consisted of fixed headlamps and round taillights. New 18 inch multipiece wheels replaced the 16 inch 5-spoke units, the engine was further modified with a new crankshaft and titanium connecting rods, contributing to the flat-12's performance figures.
The Testarossa's side strakes (its most well-known aesthetic attribute) were used to cover up the openings behind the doors for the newly positioned radiators. Large air intakes were outlawed in many countries and the strakes were used to section the inlet and not hinder airflow to it. Cool air flows through the side intakes and exits out of a newly designed engine cover that incorporates venting.
The coupe featured a wedge profile similar to other sports cars from the era and used twin headlamps that retracted into the bodywork. The front bumper incorporated an "egg crate" grille framed by a set of turn signals and fog lamps. At the rear of the wedge, the strakes reemerge and cover the taillights. A set of quad exhaust pipes exit through openings placed low in the rear bumper. A few telltale details such as the clear cornering lamps up front, the circular turn signals on the fenders, and the low profile rear bumper indicate that this is a Euro-spec machine.
Sitting under the specialized engine cover was an all-aluminum 4.9 liter flat-12 (known as the F113A) that featured dual overhead camshafts and dry-sump lubrication. Although the engine is a 180 degree flat-12, the cylinders do not fire opposed to each other as a boxer engine would. Equipped with Bosch KE-Jetronic fuel injection, the 12 cylinder produced 385hp and 361lb/ft of torque. Bolted up to the motor is a 5-speed manual transaxle with a limited-slip differential incorporated in the casing. Being a range-topping model, the Testarossa had to perform. 0-100km/hr (62mph) was achieved in 5.8 seconds, the quarter-mile was blown through in 13.5 seconds and had a top speed of 290km/hr (180mph), which were all very impressive numbers for the time.
Beneath the fiberglass bodywork was a steel tube chassis and independent suspension at all four corners. Unequal length double wishbone geometry was used all around with added anti-roll bars and a total of six shock absorbers (two at the front and four at the rear) were used to help keep the car stable at high speeds. Brembo produced multi-piston calipers with large diameter discs (315mm front and 310mm rear) were also used at all four corners. Framing the braking is a set of 16-inch aluminum wheels with knock-off center locks.
This super sports coupe became an icon of the '80s and could very well be one of the most recognizable sports cars ever, being the star in the cop drama "Miami Vice" with Don Johnson behind the wheel of an all-white coupe on the streets of South Beach. Those that were familiar with arcade games during this time period may remember OutRun, a 3D racing game where you compete against the clock to complete stages and its star car was a convertible model.
The Testarossa would go onto become one of Ferrari's best selling models (9,939 units produced) along with one of the longest production runs in the stable (12 years). Without a doubt, we think the Testarossa is the ultimate expression of the 1980s.