When it comes to cars of the 1980s the Ferrari F40 is used to getting all the attention, especially at auction. But the price to pay for the ’80s poster supercar is a steep one. Surely there is a less-expensive way to relive the neon-lit decade without getting into seven-figure territory.
In a few weeks, a 1988 Ferrari Testarossa with just 40,000 kilometers on the clock will roll across the auction block at Silverstone’s Ferrari sale, a car that happened to be sold new in Japan. The time to get a Testarossa on the cheap might have passed, but appreciation for these machines seems to be building as they approach the 40-year mark.
The Testarossa debuted in 1984 as a volume-oriented follow-up to the Berlinetta Boxer, popular in its own right, but clearly a product of a different era. It needed a successor after a decade in production. Wider and longer than the car it was replacing, the Pininfarina-penned Testarossa also ditched its predecessor’s softer styling. The Testarosa had a more modern design that was not without some controversy back in the day. And the controversy wasn’t even all that focused on the side strakes that had become its best-remembered feature over time. With relatively flat sides, a wedge-shaped nose and plenty of rectangular details, the Testarossa was definitely not a wistful look back at past eras, in the way that some ’70s Ferraris were. The new coupe made good use of the 5.0-liter flat-twelve producing 380 hp, good for a 180-mph top speed. That sounded far more impressive back in 1984 than it does today.
The car’s revolutionary aspects are ones easily appreciated today: it was roomy, comfortable and easy to drive, at a time when supercars seldom offered these attributes. Luggage space was still scarce and the car was much smaller (and lower) in person than in photos. But as a quick and powerful twelve-cylinder with a real interior that could withstand daily driving—a tall order from an Italian supercar maker at the time—the Testarossa was just the ticket.
Just about the only thing it didn’t have were cupholders, or a drop-top version that feels very necessary today.
The car that Silverstone will offer in a few weeks is a 1988 model with a Bianco exterior initially supplied to Japan. The auction house reports that it was first registered in the U.K. in 2015, right around the time a great number of delivery-mileage examples were going to auction. Perhaps most importantly, the car received a full engine rebuild 500 miles ago—an item that’s sure to be pricey. With 40,000 kilometers or just 24,900 miles on the clock, such work is slightly unusual unless the car had seen a long period of inactivity, not uncommon with these.
Photos show a clean and tidy interior with blue leather inside—a slightly unusual color combo given just how many these were finished in Rosso Corsa over a tan interior. But it’s still a Miami Vice Cinematic Universe color combo, and that’s all that really matters.
The auction house estimates this Testarossa will bring between £90,000 and £110,000 on auction day, translating to between $127,000 and $155,000.
Needless to say, the time to get a Testarossa on the cheap was about 10 years ago. That was right after the 2008 crash, but before the rebound. It was also before the rise in interest in this particular model, which until then had been seemingly trapped in limbo, rarely rising above its 1980s cliche status or above the $100,000 mark. Quite average examples could be found just above $50,000 a decade ago, while concours examples were often around the century mark. You would need to double that figure now to get a concours example, which trade around $200,000. Pickled cars with delivery miles tend to be a little less predictable and can break that barrier rather easily, but still stay below the $300,000 mark. Turns out there were plenty of those right after the 1987 stock market crash, and people took them off dealers’ hands.
The model’s values are good news for those who had been holding on to Testarossas acquired at their low point, but bad news for those who simply want to drive the car that was on a poster they may have owned as kids. Testarossas with less than 50,000 miles on the clock and good service records now require about $140,000 to land in comfortably, which is right around the top estimate for this car.
Visit the auction website to view the full list of lots from the upcoming sale.
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