As pre-driver’s licensed teenagers in the 1980s, one of the places we scratched our automotive itch, as it were, was in the video game arcade. You remember those, right? Dark, noisy rooms reeking of old popcorn, sweat, and cleaning solution with brown industrial carpeting smothered in used chewing gum and other nastiness, where the youth of our generation gathered to take our minds off of school, overbearing parents and girl (or guy) troubles. The best games would rob you of a pocket full of quarters and hours – if not days or weeks – of your life. It was heaven on Earth. These days we have the XBox, PlayStation, and Wii. The best games for Car Geeks like me were the sit-down shift-and-steer games. Pole Position taught us the basics, but Outrun was where it was at in terms of cool cars, music, and you even got a hottie in a bikini to ride along. And that was the closest I thought I’d ever come to driving a Ferrari Testarossa.
I’m still on a bit of a Ferrari kick after last week’s post on this unique Mondial coupe, so I have been frequenting sites like FerrariChat to get an idea of what’s out there these days and the going rate. Post-1996 stuff really isn’t that interesting to me (read: I can’t afford..) so I find myself poring over ads for the cars I wanted when I was a teenager. I think a lot of us do that: what was once unobtainable is now potentially within the realm of possibility. What’s better, if you actually take the plunge – is that the more of us that get interested means the prices go higher. Simple supply and demand amplified by emotion. And that’s where this car comes in. What was once a nearly $200,000 supercar capable of 190mph is now a $40,000 vintage supercar still as capable as it ever was. Find this clean black example here on FerrariChat in Colorado for $39,900.
The Testarossa came out in 1984 as Ferrari’s dramatic replacement for the Berlinetta Boxer. Both shared Pininfarina design and mid-engined flat-12 architecture, but where the Berlinetta Boxer was svelte and curvaceous, the Testarossa was all angles, not to mention the glorious cheese-grater side vents. Despite a stronger motor, the Testarossa’s performance figures were on a par with the last of the BB’s – the 512i. They were, however, friendlier cars to drive than their predecessors, being known as one of the most usable supercars to date at the time, and even by today’s standards. To boot, one didn’t cook in the cabin of the TR the way that they did in the BB.
From an ownership perspective, Testarossa’s are Ferrari-expensive to maintain, but if you buy the right car with the right history that has been cared for than conventional wisdom suggests annual maintenance for a sparingly-used car should be in the $1,000-$1,500 range annually with a $4,000 major service every four years. I’ve got a V12 Mercedes that will rival that, so for me it would not be a deterrent. You may be a little less desensitized, however, so these numbers may appear daunting, so consider this: at $40,000 the Testarossa is nearly as inexpensive as any proper supercar will get. If you look to the Berlinetta Boxers, prices have fluctuated over the years, but it wasn’t too long ago that $70,000 would get you a very nice one. These days they are six-figure cars, and people smarter than me predict they will keep going up. The Testarossa is a little behind for two basic reasons: 1) they’re just younger; and 2) they made about four times as many of them. The first issue will sort itself out over time, but the latter issue is a little concerning from a collectability standpoint. Generally speaking the more there are the less desirable they are. There are almost 10,000 Testarossas running around, so it could be a while before prices skyrocket.
Even if it appreciates slowly, a solid Testarossa shouldn’t go any lower in value than about where this car is today. It may take a while to climb, but if appreciation just covers the cost of service then ownership of one of these could be a zero cost proposition, and that’s hard to argue with. The key is whether you are in a position to buy. There’s something to be said for the school of thought that has folks with limited means but grandiose dreams driving old Accords and Camrys so that they can afford to put one of these in the garage as well. These days forty grand will put you in new upscale sedan like an Acura TL or Infiniti G, or you could have this.
Food for thought (and not a single reference to Thomas Magnum or Miami Vice!)…