When it debuted for the 1985 model, the Ferrari Testarossa had big shoes to fill—it replaced the undeniably beautiful Berlinetta Boxer which itself had replaced the undeniably beautiful Daytona.
Sergio Pininfarina’s styling for the Testarossa was not undeniably beautiful, but it definitely was striking. The defining feature was the side strakes covering the radiator intakes, often referred to as “cheese graters.”
The strakes were at least functional, feeding the two side radiators that cooled the Bosch K-Jetronic port fuel-injected 4.9 liter/302 ci 380 bhp flat 12 cylinder engine—crazy power for the mid-1980s. Mileage (not that the target market cared) was flat-out awful—10 city/15 highway by the standards of the day (9/14 by today’s standards). At least the 30.4-gallon gas tank meant you could go around 315 to 340 miles before looking for more fuel.
The Testarossa was a Ferrari that reflected the times—it was big (almost six inches wider and 200 pounds heavier than the Berlinetta Boxer it replaced) and flashy. It was also pricey; at $90,000 and up (over $215,000 in 2018 dollars), four times as expensive as a 1985 Corvette (not that too many buyers were cross-shopping the two). You did get at least a little comfort for your money—air conditioning, power seats, and power windows were all standard.
There continues to be disagreement over how good a car—or, more importantly, how good a Ferrari—the Testarossa was. It was undoubtedly fast: 0-60 came in 5.2 seconds, and top speed was about 180 mph.
There is strong club support for the Testarossa, as there is for all Ferraris. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1985 Testarossa in #1/Concours condition is $132,000, with a more “normal” (if any Ferrari can be normal) #3/Good condition car going for $80,000. You see them advertised in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds, though often it’s a notice of an auction. There is a Rosso Corsa Testarossa with the tan interior and 21,000 miles advertised for $108,000.
Make mine that same Rosso Corsa, with the tan interior. My wife prefers the “Miami Vice” white, but I think Testarossas (along with many Ferraris) left our list forever when she found out that you or your very expensive mechanic have to remove the engine from the car to do a “major service” every five years or 30,000 miles.
Updated in December 2018.