We should all kick ourselves. Just five years ago you could have bought a decent Ferrari Testarossa for £30k – and the seller would have bitten your arm off. But since then Ferrari’s redhead has more than tripled in value and this year Silverstone Auctions created a world record selling one for a monster £202,000. Blimey. And we’ve only got ourselves to blame for missing an investment that’s made a better percentage return than even prime residential London property. You see, we thought this wide, flash, 80s Ferrari was too over-the-top and too tacky looking. The sort of thing you’d scribble after having a pill too many at an 80s rave. Remember those? We thought those swooping flanks and cheese grater side grilles radiated drug-dealing tastelessness – an essay ineverything that was wrong with the party era where greed became a theology and even the blokes wore shoulder pads.
But boy, did we get it wrong. The Testarossa’s stellar rise in price is exactly because it was such an 80s poster car and scores of wide-eyed (and rich) thirty-somethings are now queuing up to relive that golden age by buying an investment that also gives some very large helpings of fun. They’ve realised that Ferrari’s first truly global supercar is also a very fine ride that’s easy to drive, has a roomy cabin, is commendably reliable and can hit 180mph. While it wasn’t the rarest of Ferraris with 7,177 built between 1984 and 1996, the dry-sump Columbo 4.9litre flat 12 has FI origins, the Pininfarina lines are wonderfully dramatic and its that rare thing, a supercar that doesn’t feel intimidating. Early owners (and there was a two-year waiting list) included Michael Jackson, Richard Gere, Dolly Parton and Elton John all of whom were delighted to pay the hefty launch price of $181,000 or £62,666 in the UK.
And driving our ’87 car round the hills above Los Angeles showed me what a gem this Ferrari really is. The gear change is slick; the unassisted steering well weighted, it started instantly – hot or cold – and the temperature gauge never budged. The cheese cutter grilles have an importantfunction – funneling air into the twin rear radiators to keep both the cabin and engine cool. And when you give the Testarossa some beans (the LA PD kindly closed the roads off for us during filming) 60 comes up in just over five seconds and you can hurl from zero to 100mph in 11.4 seconds. This feels a very quick car indeed. And even though it’s a chunky 6.5-foot wide the Testarossa always feels easy to place and loves changing direction fast.
The whole film crew adored this car and we walked round it in homage drinking in those sensational lines. Everybody wanted a stint in the passenger seat for a fast run up and down the Hollywood hills. I of course, was more than happy to oblige. At the end of the shoot I glumly handed the keys back to the lucky American owner full of regret that I hadn’t been as far-sighted as he’d been buying his low mileage Testarossa six years ago for just £31,000 or $50,000. Another missed opportunity down life’s twisting road.