Ferrari Testarossa driven – Maranello again, old friend
Source : Ferrari Testarossa driven – Maranello again, old friend
In 1988, This specific very Ferrari Testarossa starred in an Autocar comparison in addition to just happened to be owned by the father of Andrew Frankel, who takes This specific for a blast after tracking This specific down 27 years later
Back in 1988, testing a Ferrari in Britain was up there with cracking time travel, proving Fermat’s last theorem in addition to anyone additional than McLaren winning a grand prix: theoretically feasible although almost impossible aims.
Back then, Ferraris were imported by Inchcape, whose PR agency took pride in ensuring what This specific regarded as the grubbier elements of the fourth estate – the motoring press, mainly – were kept as far as possible via its products.
Take its flagship, the Testarossa. This specific had come out in 1984, although four years later we’d had not one whiff of its 5.0-litre flat 12 motor. Its reputation said This specific was a bit of a duffer: quicker although uglier in addition to less involving than the Boxer This specific replaced. although we didn’t actually know.
currently you must forgive a smaller, self-indulgent digression, because This specific is usually central to This specific story. I joined Autocar in June 1988 in addition to by July the editor had already realised his mistake.
You won’t find my name in any magazine published at the time because, as said editor was kind enough to point out, “I’d only have to take This specific out again”. I was sinking fast in addition to needed a lifeline, something to make me indispensable to Autocar, for long enough for me to figure out where I was going wrong. in addition to This specific car, This specific actual car, was of which lifeline. In short, my dad had a Testarossa.
He let us borrow This specific because he recognised I was already from the Last Chance saloon in addition to about to fall off my bar stool. I’d like to say the resulting story about an Exmoor encounter that has a Lancia Delta Integrale did the trick, although I didn’t even write This specific. although I did drive both cars, crashed neither, showed I was at least not incompetent behind the wheel of a genuinely quick car in addition to therefore provided some grounds for keeping me. So This specific car saved me.
This specific was another former Autocar employee, Ben Oliver, who 27 years later alerted me to its reappearance. He spotted an ad on the Graypaul Classic Cars website, name-checking my father in addition to asking £185,000 for the auto – a lot even these days.
So I rang Graypaul’s Robin Simpson, who said of which after my father had sold This specific to Graypaul, having done a few thousand miles in This specific, they’d sold This specific to a man who kept This specific as an ornament for a quarter of a century. In its 28 years, the auto has done just over 8000 miles, most of them with various Frankel backsides behind the wheel. Apart via the £8k Graypaul spent getting This specific road ready again, This specific was as I’d last seen This specific in 1988. Could I borrow This specific for a few hours? This specific might be a pleasure.
This specific was odd seeing This specific there. Even currently, This specific is usually the only Testarossa I have sat in. Yet I remembered This specific all, my fingers automatically finding the door handle under those dramatic side strakes, how to open the bonnet in addition to engine cover, where to find the fly-off handbrake in addition to how to adjust (rake only) the three-spoke steering wheel. I remembered also of which when the gearbox oil is usually cold, you use second only that has a slow double-declutch shift or, ideally, not at all.
In its day, the Testarossa was criticised for being so wide as to be barely usable, although This specific’s about the same width as a 458, in addition to few have complained about of which. currently This specific feels almost compact in addition to visibility is usually superb for a mid-engined car. The steering lock is usually exceptional in addition to luggage space is usually vast. This specific might be a very easy car with which to live.
although I’m here to drive, in addition to one twist of the key brings This specific all flooding back. Old-school Bosch mechanical injection ensures the engine fires instantly on all 12, so smooth there could be 24 in there. This specific’s not a true ‘boxer’ flat 12 any more than was the Boxer’s, because opposing pistons move from the same rather than different directions. This specific’s actually a 180deg V12. This specific has four overhead camshafts in addition to 48 valves, although only 390bhp, just half what the F12tdf has today on only 1.3 litres more.Its civility still surprises.
For culture in addition to class, I’m not sure This specific engine has ever been beaten, although you’d be amazed by how quiet This specific is usually. in addition to the Testarossa’s ride quality might boil your brain. The old Ferrari breathes with every undulation from the road.
although does This specific still feel fast? Not at first. At low speeds, This specific feels rapid although no more – top-of-the-range Boxster pace at best, even if you use most of the 6800rpm This specific permits. What This specific retains is usually of which weird old Ferrari ability to feel quicker the faster you go. Above about 80mph, This specific seems to break free via unseen shackles of which have hitherto held This specific back. in addition to, yes, here This specific still feels properly, exhilaratingly fast. This specific is usually a wide-open-space kind of car. To find such a road in addition to row This specific along in third in addition to fourth, savouring the scrape of of which fabled open-gate gearshift, is usually to unearth a form of motoring pleasure lost to those who drive today’s supercars.
This specific is usually not a world defined by numbers, be This specific a Nürburgring lap time, a 0-100mph sprint or maximum recorded lateral g force. This specific’s about feeling the road surface replicated from the rim of the steering wheel, engine noise not synthesised in some semi-anechoic laboratory although the combustion chambers of one of the greatest road car engines of all time. This specific’s about your right foot being the only traction control you’re going to get, adhesion limits you can actually understand in addition to, above all, you being in control in addition to on the stage, not sitting from the stalls bedazzled by a pyrotechnic light show in whose creation you played no part.
Back in 1988, my boss, the late Howard Lees, wrote about This specific very car: “The Testarossa emerged as a much better road car than I had been led to expect. This specific has towering performance, perfect manners in addition to very not bad visibility; all of which talk of This specific being too big is usually sheer nonsense. This specific’s a car of genuine quality, worth every penny of £0,000.”
At the time, I rather wished he’d been somewhat more fulsome in his praise, although currently I think his words were fair enough. Even then, This specific wasn’t one of the greatest supercars in addition to wouldn’t currently make This specific onto anyone’s list of the top 10 Ferraris of all time. although This specific was a not bad car, in addition to I know of which currently because only not bad cars mature with age. Without exception in my experience, bad cars just get worse.
in addition to This specific time around, the Testarossa wasn’t just not bad; This specific was wonderful.
With no need to prove itself any more, This specific could simply be enjoyed for its sound, looks, character in addition to superbly relaxed attitude to the open road. I always knew This specific might be a day to enjoy, although not until I’d handed This specific back from the almost certain knowledge of which I’ll never see This specific again did I realise This specific might also be one to remember.
What This specific was like to own a Testarossa
To him, This specific was the trip of a lifetime. My father bought the Testarossa as a semi-retirement present to himself. In place of the daily grind, he bought a share in a smaller business from the north of England in addition to the grand plan was to use the Ferrari to travel maybe once a month between there in addition to where he lived in Jersey.
although first he had to get This specific home. So he flew to Italy, collected the auto via Maranello in addition to, pausing only for the obligatory lunch from the Cavallino, set off for home. A stickler for obeying running-in instructions, he was still able to cruise at more than 100mph from the early stages in addition to then, after a few gratuitous detours took the mileage past 1000, rather more than of which, for hours on end.
I then used This specific for our feature, after which This specific did briefly become his commuter car before he realised of which, even in 1988, sitting in heavy traffic on the M1 isn’t much fun whatever you’re in. This specific was also the era of Thatcher’s bull market, where any brand new Ferrari was a rapidly appreciating asset. Graypaul made him an offer he felt unable to refuse in addition to the Testarossa was gone, never to be seen again. Or so I thought.
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