1983 Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer 512i

I live about a mile from a Ferrari dealership. As I walked nearby it earlier this week, I saw a trailer parked around the corner with a low-slung sports car inside. Getting a little closer showed that it was definitely a Berlinetta Boxer—possibly this one. “Now that’s a Ferrari!”, I said. The man unloading the car chuckled as I walked away.

For 1983, Ferrari’s lovely Pinanfarina-designed Berlinetta Boxer 512i received few if any changes. The Boxer’s engine was Ferrari’s 340 bhp 4.9 liter flat 12 with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection – the BB512 had moved to fuel injection (and added the i) for the 1982 model year. When paired with the five-speed manual transmission, 0-60 came in about 5.5 seconds with a top speed of 170 mph or so—fast, fast, fast for 1983.

Ferraris had gotten more luxurious: standard equipment on the BB512i included air conditioning (often said to be inadequate), leather seats, power mirrors, power windows, power door locks driven from the key, a Nardi steering wheel, and a Pioneer AM/FM stereo cassette deck with 7-band graphic equalizer.

Although the Berlinetta Boxer was not legal in the U.S., some importers converted them to U.S. specifications with the addition of catalytic converters, side reflectors, and larger bumpers.

Of course, there’s a fairly famous eighties music video associated with this car.

Sammy Hagar may have his issues, but the Ferrari BB512i he drives in the video made for this song demonstrates exquisite taste. When interviewed by Motor Trend in 2008, he still owned it.

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1983 Berlinetta Boxer 512i in #1 condition is $185,000 (though recent auction results may make that seem low). A more “normal” #3 condition example is valued at $122,000. Berlinetta Boxers seem to come up for auction more than as standard sales—Auctions America has 1984 BB512i on the docket for August.

There’s some really excellent support for Berlinetta Boxers (and all Ferraris) from the folks on FerrariChat (who contributed to this post).

Make mine Rosso Corsa (red), please, though I’m quite tempted by how they look in Grigio (grey).

1983 Lotus Esprit Turbo

“Low, sleek, ultra-competitive.”

The 1983 Lotus Esprit Turbo finally brought the performance that the original Esprit’s supercar looks had promised over half a decade before.

Horsepower was up to 205 bhp from the 140 bhp that had come with the debut of the Esprit in 1977. The engine was still the type-910 2.2 liter carbureted inline 4 cylinder but a Garrett AiResearch turbocharger making 8.0 psi of boost was attached. Other engine technology included an aluminum block, aluminum heads, and four valves per cylinder.

Performance for the almost 3,000 pound exotic was substantially improved: a 0-60 time of about 6.5 seconds was about 1.5 seconds quicker than the original naturally aspirated car. The Esprit Turbo’s top speed was about 140 mph.

From the perspective of 2013, mileage wasn’t so great for a small turbocharged four (14 city/25 highway by the standards of the day) but the 22.7 gallon gas tank helped with range.

The Esprit’s looks were updated in the same way that many 1970s designs were as they headed into the 1980s. Ground effects were added to the original Giorgetto Giugiaro design and of course there were huge Esprit Turbo logos on the rear quarters.

Car and Driver recently reprinted their story on the Esprit Turbo from November 1983 and it is interesting and instructive to read (though it is notable that they put the Nissan/Datsun 300ZX Turbo on the cover that month instead of the Lotus). They believed that the car would find a hole in the exotic market even at a relatively dear price of $47,984 (about $112,000 in 2013 dollars). For reference, according to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for an 1983 Esprit Turbo in #1 condition is $30,700.

1985 Ferrari Testarossa

In 1985, 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.”

testarossaintake
Close up of the “cheese grater” side strakes on the Ferrari Testarossa.

The strakes were at least functional, feeding the two side radiators that cooled the Bosch K-Jetronic port fuel-injected 4.9 liter/302 cubic inch 380 bhp flat 12 cylinder engine—crazy power for the mid-1980s. Mileage (not that the target market cared) was flat-out awful10 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 over 300 miles before looking for more fuel.

The Testarossa was a Ferrari that reflected the times—it was big, flashy, and expensive: at $90,000 and up (over $205,000 in 2015 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 certainly fast: 0-60 came in 5.2 seconds, and top speed was about 180 mph.

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1985 Testarossa in #1 condition is $139,000, with a more “normal” (if any Ferrari can be normal) #3 condition car going for $69,900. You see them advertised in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds, though often it’s a notice of an auction.

Make mine 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.

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