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.”


The strakes were at least functional, feeding the two side radiators that cooled the Bosch port fuel-injected 4.9 liter 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 an 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.

Who Saves These Cars?

I was walking around a local auto show in August 2012 and I came across a near-perfect early Chrysler minivan.


The Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) has what I think is a wonderful rule—if the car is 25 years ago it can be shown and judged. Period. No cut-offs because of importance or beauty or rarity or anything else.

I would argue that the first generation Chrysler minivans were actually very important—the first of 13 million sold over the last thirty years, but that’s not the point here.

What’s interesting is that almost all of these minivans led unglamorous family or corporate lives and got “used up” and this one looks almost untouched. It’s a labor of love bringing one of these cars up to show quality: there’s no aftermarket providing restoration parts like there is for Mustangs, Corvettes, or Porsches of the same age. Methinks there’s a lot of chasing around junkyards and perhaps a donor car or two.

A First Post For Yet Another Car Blog …

I grew up in the early 1980s, graduating high school in 1986. Almost all cars from the 1980s are unfashionable right now: they are electronically primitive, squarely styled, and most of them have fallen apart.

I love these cars.

They can be frustrating, but they were markers that things were getting better after the rather frightening 1970s: auto makers were finally learning how to build systems that could yield decent mileage, good emissions, and respectable performance. Aerodynamics were actually becoming more than an afterthought and every year brought some more improvements.

This blog will take a sometimes random look at cars of the 1980s and why they are interesting or notable. I may not publish every day, but I will make an effort to update often.