The 1980s was a period of some of the most iconic cars. Automakers were trying all sorts of experiments, and Ferrari and Lamborghini were in the middle of an intense fight! Well, the fight started in the 1960s when sportscar makers decided to flex with mid-engined cars. Ferrari Dino and Lamborghini Miura started the fistfight then. Fast forward a few years, and the Lamborghini Countach was launched in 1974 and it caused quite the buzz in the 1980s.

The Countach was way ahead of its time with a wedge body style and a glorious sounding V12 packed in between. This caused a commotion for Enzo Ferrari as he wanted to snatch the attention that Lamborghini was enjoying. And so, the Testarossa was born to take on the Countach. But technically the weapon of choice was already present in Ferrari's portfolio in the form of the 365 GT/4 Berlinetta Boxer. To tackle the added sharpness that Lambo had put forth with the Countach, Ferrari had reworked on the BB to make it bigger, wider, and most importantly - sharper.

The one thing that was carried over intact was its glorious-sounding 4.9-liter 12-cylinder motor, albeit with more performance. The 'Testarossa' period was golden and messy for Ferrari with its mid-engined 12-cylinder layout. Ferrari did make a few 12-cylinder mid-engined cars after the Testarossa, like the F50, Enzo, and the LaFerrari, but those were limited-run cars costing a bomb. But Ferrari Testarossa was a mass-produced 12-cylinder mid-engined supercar, a car that defined 'exotic' status back in the day.

Miami Vice fooled us into thinking that the Ferrari Testarossa was a sports car, but it wasn't!

The Ferrari Testarossa Was A Sharp-Looking Luxury Car

Ferrari Testarossa rear third quarter view

Testarossa literally translates to 'red-head', and Ferrari had swapped the valve covers of their sleek new luxury car with red-painted cylinder heads. The term 'Testarossa' was coined in the late 1950s with the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa which in turn got its name because of red valve covers on its V12 motor.

Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa hd racecar wallpaper

It was in the color, all along! But the car that we are talking about here is the one that replaced the Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer. The 1984 Testarossa failed in what Ferrari wanted it to be, but in turn, turned out to be a very special mistake.

Related: A Look Back At The Ferrari 330 TR

Ferrari Testarossa Was An Evolution Of The Curvaceous BB

Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer hd car wallpaper

The Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer was the first in a series of the Prancing Horses to use a mid-engined 12-cylinder layout. It was pitched in as the successor of the Ferrari Daytona and the BB was quite the looker. It had its fair share of sharp cues, but the curves were what helped it stand out.

Ferrari Testarossa front view

But then came the Lamborghini Countach which pushed Ferrari to let go of those curves and bring in the sharpest knife to make a Lambo fighter. That's how the iconic Testarossa was made, and Pininfarina was the one that designed the car. Ferrari Testarossa was a drastic yet beautiful evolution of the BB.

The Testarossa Was Misunderstood To Have A 'Flat'-12

Ferrari Testarossa mid-engined V12 bay view

The misunderstanding started from its predecessor. The Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer had a 12-cylinder for sure, but people misunderstood the 'Boxer' in its name to indicate a boxer engine layout. But the engine wasn't a flat-12 configuration, but more of a 180-degree V12. The pistons moved in one direction, but well, the name was given, and Ferrari didn't feel like changing it!

Ferrari Testarossa front third quarter pop-up view

The same engine was carried over to the Testarossa, albeit with a bump in performance. The 4.9-liter 12-cylinder engine pumped out 385 HP and 361 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. The Testarossa did 0-60 MPH in a swift 5.8 seconds and had a top speed of 180 MPH. All this despite weighing in at a hefty 3,700 pounds. Related: A Detailed Look Back At The Ferrari FF

Ferrari Testarossa Was An Exotic Car With Loads Of Quirks

Ferrari Testarossa side view

Oh yes! There were many, that most people actually still don't know about. The door handle was hidden in the iconic gills and first-timers did take their own sweet time to find it out! On that note, the Testarossa's key was bendable. This was done because of customers complaining of the key hitting their knees in the BB, Testarossa's predecessor.

Ferrari Testarossa rear view

The wheels and fins that gobbled up air for the V12 were its iconic cues, along with those gorgeous pop-up headlamps (Long Live The PopUps!). The interior was typical Ferrari of the time. There was 2 reason why the Testarossa was more of a luxury car than a sports car, it was portrayed as. One was the driving dynamics with comfortable and softer suspension and a linear performance curve.

Ferrari Testarossa interior view

The other was the sheer comfort its seats provided with. These sporty-looking seats were pretty comfy and well-bolstered. Even six-footers would easily fit into the 'sporty' luxury Ferrari with ease. And there was enough 'cargo' space behind the seats and in the front hood, to remind you of its practical appeal.

From Testarossa To 512 TR To F512 M; The Mid-Engined V12 Was A Rewarding Mistake

Ferrari 512 TR front third quarter view

The original Testarossa bid adieu in 1991 but its mid-engined 12-cylinder layout wrapped around a sexy wedge shape stayed! It was succeeded by the Ferrari 512 TR (a tuner's favorite) that was bumped up to 428 HP and 362 lb-ft of torque. It had smoother bodylines and got updated transmission, brakes, suspension, and a reworked intake system.

Ferrari F512 M front third quarter view

And then in 1994, it evolved into the F512 M which, according to us, was the ugliest looking successor of the Testarossa. Major changes were on the aesthetic front, and Ferrari got rid of the pop-ups (big mistake!). It got a smiling grille (not good!), and there were a lot of fused design cues inspired by the Ferrari 456 and 355. It lost more weight and had the most powerful iteration of the 12-cylinder layout with 440 HP. The confusing mid-engined 12-cylinder era finally came to an end in 1996!


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