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Ferrari Testarossa, 512 TR & F512 M
Testaross Festival of speed.jpg
Manufacturer Ferrari
Parent company Fiat Group
Production 1984–1996
Assembly Maranello, Italy
Predecessor Ferrari BB 512i
Successor Ferrari 550 Maranello
Class Sports car
Body style(s) 2-door Berlinetta
Layout Rear mid-engine, rear-wheel drive
Transmission(s) 5-speed manual
Designer Pininfarina

The Ferrari Testarossa is a 12-cylinder mid-engine sports car manufactured by Ferrari, which went into production in 1984 as the successor to the Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer. The Pininfarina-designed car was originally produced from 1984 to 1991, with two model revisions following the ending of Testarossa production and the introduction of the 512 TR and F512 M which were produced from 1992 to 1996. Almost 10,000 Testarossas, 512 TRs, and F512 Ms were produced, making it one of the most common Ferrari models, despite its high price and exotic design.[1][2] In 1995, the F512 M retailed for $220,000.[3]

The Testarossa is a two-door coupe with a fixed roof that premiered at the 1984 Paris Auto Show.[4] All versions of the Testarossa had the power fed through the wheels from a rear-mounted, five-speed manual transmission. The Rear mid-engine, rear-wheel drive layout (engine between the axles but behind the cabin) keeps the centre of gravity in the middle of the car, which increases stability and improves the car's cornering ability, and thus results in a standing weight distribution of 40% front: 60% rear.[1] The original Testarossa was re-engineered for 1992 and released as the 512 TR, at the Los Angeles Auto Show, effectively as a completely new car,[2] and an improved weight distribution of 41% front: 59% rear.[5] The F512 M was introduced at the 1994 Paris Auto Show.[2] The car dropped the TR initials and added the M which in Italian stood for modificata, or translated to modified, and was the final version of the Testarossa,[2][4] and continued its predecessor's weight distribution improvement of 42% front: 58% rear.[6] The F512 M was Ferrari's last mid-engine 12-cylinder car, apart from the F50 and Ferrari Enzo, featuring the company's last flat engine. The Testarossa was replaced in 1996 by the front-engined 550 Maranello coupe.

The vehicle should not be confused with the Ferrari TR "Testa Rossa" of the late 1950s and early 1960s, which were GT sports cars that ran in the World Sportscar Championship, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans.[2]



A Testarossa engine with red cam covers.
One of the side intakes on a 512TR which leads to the radiators mounted on the back of the car.

The Testarossa name, which means "red head" in Italian, comes from the red-painted cam covers on the flat-12 engine.[7] Of course, the double entendre with a red-headed woman was intentional; in fact, Ferrari and Pininfarina regularly use descriptive terms related to a female's body when describing the style of their automobiles.


The Testarossa can trace its roots back to the faults of the 1981 512i BB.[7] The problems that the Testarossa was conceived to fix, included a cabin that got increasingly hot from the indoor plumbing that ran between the front-mounted radiator and the midships-mounted engine and a lack of luggage space.[7] To fix these problems Ferrari and Pininfarina designed the Testarossa to be larger than its predecessor, the Berlinetta Boxer. For instance, at 1,976 millimetres (78 in) wide the Testarossa was half a foot wider than the Boxer. This resulted in an increased wheelbase that stretched about 64 mm (2.5 in) to 2,550 mm (100 in) which was used to accommodate luggage in a carpeted storage space under the front forward-opening hood.[7] The increase in length created extra storage space behind the seats in the cabin. Headroom was also increase with a roofline half an inch taller than the Boxer.

Pininfarina's body was a departure from the curvaceous boxer -- one which caused some controversy.[7] The side strakes sometimes referred to as "cheese graters"[7] or "egg slicers,"[8] that spanned from the doors to the rear fenders were designed to solve the uncomfortable heat problem in the cabin. The Testarossa had twin radiators in the back with the engine instead of a single radiator up-front.[7] In conjunction the strakes provided cool air to the rear-mounted side radiators, thus keeping the engine from overheating. The strakes also made the Testarossa wider at the rear than in the front, thus increasing stability and handling.[2]

One last unique addition to the new design was a single high mounted rear view mirror on the driver's side. On US based cars, the mirror was lowered to a more normal placement in 1987 and quickly joined by a passenger side rear view mirror for the driver to be able to make safe easy lane changes.

Like its predecessor, the Testarossa used a double wishbone front and rear suspension systems. Ferrari improved traction by adding 10-inch-wide alloy rear wheels. The Testarossa drivetrain was also an evolution of the BB 512i. Its engine used near identical displacement and compression ratio, but unlike the BB 512i had four-valve cylinder heads that were finished in red.[7]


Ferrari Testarossa.jpg
Production 1984–1991 (7,177 produced)[1][4]
Predecessor Ferrari BB 512i
Successor 512TR
Engine(s) 4.9 L H12 291 kW (390 hp)[4]
Wheelbase 2,550 mm (100.4 in)[4]
Length 4,485 mm (176.6 in)[4]
Width 1,976 mm (77.8 in)[4]
Height 1,130 mm (44.5 in)[4]
Curb weight 1,506 kg (3,320.2 lb)[4]
Fuel capacity 115 L (25 imp gal; 30 US gal)[1]


The Testarossa sports a 4.9 litre (4,943 cubic centimetres/302 cubic inches) Ferrari Colombo Flat-12 engine longitudinally mid mounted.[4][9] Each cylinder has four valves, with forty-eight valves total, lubricated via a dry sump system, and a compression ratio of 9.20:1.[4][9] These combine to provide a maximum torque of 490 newton metres (361 ft·lbf) at 4500 rpm and a maximum power of 291 kilowatts (396 PS; 390 hp) at 6300 rpm.[1][4][10] Early U.S. versions of the car had the same engine, but slightly less power with only 283 kW (385 PS; 380 hp).[2][7][10]

The Ferrari Testarossa can accelerate from 0–100 kilometres per hour (62 mph) in 5.8 seconds[1] and from 0–97 kilometres per hour (60 mph) in 5.2 seconds and on to 161 km/h (100 mph) in 11.40 seconds[1] (though Motor Trend Magazine managed 5.29 seconds and 11.3 seconds, respectively).[2] It can complete a standing (from stationary) quarter mile (~400 m) in 13.50 seconds or a standing kilometre in 23.80 seconds.[1] The maximum speed of the Testarossa is 290 kilometres per hour (180 mph).[9]

Gear Reverse 1 2 3 4 5 Final Drive
Ratio[1][10] 2.523:1 3.139:1 2.104:1 1.526:1 1.167:1 0.875:1 3.210:1


The Testarossa has 16-inch (406 mm) wheels with a width of 8-inch (200 mm) at the front and 10-inch (250 mm) at the rear for both U.S. and International versions.[10] The tire code for the U.S. version of the vehicle had Goodyear 225/50 VR 16 and 255/50 VR 16 for the rear tires, whilst the tire codes for the international version had Michelin TRX 240/45 VR 415 for the front tires and TRX 280/45 VR 415 for the rear tires.[1][10] The front brakes have a diameter of 309 millimetres (12.17 in) and the rear brakes have a diameter of 310 millimetres (12.20 in).[1]


The Testarossa featured a luxury cabin filled with handsewn leather and fine carpeting.[7]


The car won many comparison tests and admirers - it was featured on the cover of Road & Track magazine nine times in just five years. The price of the Testarossa in the US was $181,000 in 1989, including a $2,700 "gas-guzzler" tax. The original selling price in the UK was £62,666.[11]

Jack Nerad of Driving Today states, the Testarossa "... [was] a car designed and built to cash in on an image. And since cashing in was what the Eighties were all about, it was the perfect vehicle for its time. The saving grace was, it was also a damn good automobile."[7]

Although successful on the road, the Testarossa did not appear on race tracks, unlike the BB 512i, which had done so with minor success.

As Ferrari's range-topper during the 1980s, the car made appearances in numerous video games, most notably the arcade games Out Run, OutRun 2, and Hard Drivin', and also in the TV series Miami Vice, as Sonny Crockett's undercover car from season three. The car has subsequently become synonymous with 80s "yuppies" and is an icon of 80s retro culture.[12] Its side strakes have became a popular aftermarket body component for wide arch aesthetic body kits.[2] The strakes spawned knock-off treatments that were designed for cars such as the Pontiac Trans Am, and a wide variety of Japanese sporty cars.[7]

Testarossa Spider

The Testarossa Spider, serial number 62897, is the sole official convertible variant of the Testarossa commissioned by Ferrari and designed by Pininfarina to be built. The car was specially made for the late Gianni Agnelli, head of Fiat at the time, as a gift.[13][14] The Testarossa Spider had a silver exterior, a white magnolia leather interior with a dark blue stripe running above the matt black sills, and a white top that could be manually stowed away.[13][14] The vehicle was delivered to Agnelli in 1986, and had a silver Ferrari logo on the hood instead of an aluminium one.[13][14]

Many customers requested their own Testarossa Spider, but Ferrari declined every one of them, and so Pininfarina and other conversion firms had to make unofficial Spider conversions.[13] The official Spider was no different mechanically than the normal Testarossas available in the European market. It had a standard 4.9 L 291 kilowatts (396 PS; 390 hp) flat-12 engine. The only difference, other than being a convertible, was that the Spider's front window and door windows were both shorter than those of the normal car.[13][14]

512 TR

512 TR
Ferrari Testarossa - 001.jpg
Production 1991–1994 (2,280 produced)[15]
Predecessor Testarossa
Successor F512 M
Engine(s) 4.9 L flat-12 319 kW (428 hp)[15][16]
Wheelbase 2,550 mm (100.4 in)[5]
Length 4,485 mm (176.6 in)[5]
Width 1,941 mm (76.4 in)[5] (1993-94)
77.8 in (1976 mm) (1991-92)
Height 1,135 mm (44.7 in)[5] (1993-94)
44.5 in (1130 mm) (1991-92)
Curb weight 1,471 kg (3,243 lb)[5]
Fuel capacity 110 L (24 imp gal; 29 US gal)[5]


The 512 TR sports a 4.9 litre (4,943 cubic centimetres/302 cubic inches) Ferrari Colombo Flat-12 engine longitudinally mid mounted.[5][15] Each cylinder has four valves, with forty-eight valves total, lubricated via a dry sump system, and a compression ratio of 10.00:1.[5][16][17] These combine to provide a maximum torque of 491 newton metres (362 ft·lbf) at 5500 rpm and a maximum power of 319 kilowatts (434 PS; 428 hp) at 6750 rpm.[15][16][17]

The Ferrari 512 TR can accelerate from 0–97 kilometres per hour (60 mph) in 4.90 seconds and on to 161 km/h (100 mph) in 10.70 seconds.[5] It can complete a standing (from stationary) quarter mile in 13.20 seconds or a standing kilometre in 23.40 seconds.[5] The maximum speed the 512 TR can attain is 314 kilometres per hour (195 mph).[5][16]

Gear Reverse 1 2 3 4 5 Final Drive
Ratio[5][17] 2.428:1 2.916:1 1.882:1 1.421:1 1.087:1 0.815:1 3.45:1

A recall was issued in 1995, regarding fuel hose fitting issues.[18] Over 400 models had this defect which was caused by variances in temperature and environment. Another recall was issued in relation to the passive restraint system on seat belts not functioning properly, on over 2,000 512TR's.[18] If the restraint system suffered a mechanical or electrical failure only the lap belt would provide the occupant protection.

The 512 TR's engine was modified in many ways. Nikasil liners were added, along with a new air intake system, Bosch engine management system, larger intake valves, and a revised exhaust system. In addition to the higher peak power, the modifications delivered a more broad power curve for better acceleration.

Gearshifting effort, long a complaint about the Testarossa, was eased with a new single-plate clutch, sliding ball bearings, and better angle for the shifter. The braking system included larger front rotors and cross-drilling all around. Quicker steering, lower-profile tires, and new shock settings improved handling. Most importantly, engine and gearbox position was rethought, which improved the centre of gravity, aiding the handling and making the car less fearsome on the limit.

The interior was revised too, with the center console split from the dashboard, and the climate controls relocated. Pininfarina tweaked the body of the car to better integrate the spoilers and engine cover and update the design in line with the recently released 348.

It cost US$212,160 in 1992 with luxury items, the "gas-guzzler" taxes, and destination freight.


The 512 TR has 18-inch (457 mm) wheels with a width of 8 in (200 mm) at the front and 10.5 in (270 mm) at the rear. The tire code for the front wheels are 235/40 ZR 18 and 295/35 ZR 18 for the rear tires.[5][16][17] The front brakes have a diameter of 315 millimetres (12.40 in) and the rear brakes have a diameter of 310 mm (12.20 in).[5]

F512 M

F512 M
Ferrari F512M 1996.jpg
Production 1994–1996 (500 produced)[2][19]
Predecessor 512 TR
Successor Ferrari 550 Maranello
Engine(s) 4.9 L flat-12 328.1 kW (440 hp)[6][20]
Wheelbase 2,550 mm (100.4 in)[6]
Length 4,480 mm (176.4 in)[6]
Width 1,976 mm (77.8 in)[6]
Height 1,118 mm (44.0 in)[6]
Curb weight 1,455 kg (3,207.7 lb)[6]
Fuel capacity 110 L (24 imp gal; 29 US gal)[6]


The F512 M sports a 4.9 litre (4,943 cubic centimetres/302 cubic inches) Ferrari Colombo Flat-12 engine longitudinally mid mounted.[4][20] This provides a maximum torque of 500 newton metres (369 ft·lbf) at 5500 rpm and a maximum power of 328.1 kilowatts (446 PS; 440 hp) at 6750 rpm.[6][20] Each cylinder has four valves, for forty-eight valves total, lubricated via a dry sump system, with a compression ratio of 10.40:1.[6][20] Due to new titanium connecting rods and a new crankshaft that together weigh 7.26 kilograms (16 lb) less than those that they replace, the engine can spin up to and thus tolerate 7500 rpm, its electronic cuttoff limit.[3]

The Ferrari F512 M can accelerate from 0–100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.70 seconds.[3][20], on to 161 km/h (100 mph) in 10.20 seconds,[6] and It can complete a standing (from stationary) quarter mile in 12.70 seconds or a standing kilometre in 22.70 seconds.[6] The maximum speed of the F512 M is 315 kilometres per hour (196 mph).[6][19][20]

Gear Final Drive
Ratio[6] 3.31:1


The front and rear lamps received a design change. The front lamps are now square framed lamps that are no longer hidden.[3] The rear taillamps are round and the bumpers have been restyled to yield a more unified look for the F512 M.[3] This car featured a different front lid with twin NACA ducts.


The F512 M's interior received a minor update from the 512 TR. The gearshift knob now has a chromed finish, the aluminum pedals are drilled, and air conditioning is now standard equipment. Carbon fiber racing bucket seats are also available at no extra cost as they are only 14.97 kilograms (33 lb), much less than the standard seats.[3] Pininfarina and Ferrari flags line the dash board.


The F512 M has 18-inch (457 mm) wheels with a width of 8-inch (200 mm) for both the front and rear tires. The tires are Pirelli P Zero,[3][6] with codes for the front wheels of 235/40 ZR 18 and 295/35 ZR 18 for the rear tires.[20] The front brakes have a diameter of 315 millimetres (12.40 in) and the rear brakes have a diameter of 310 mm (12.20 in).[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Carfolio: Ferrari Testarossa". Carfolio. Retrieved 2009-01-02.  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Auto Editors of Consumer Guide. "Ferrari Testarossa". How Stuff Works. Retrieved 2009-01-03.  
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Perini, Giancarlo (January 1995). "Ferrari F512 M". Car & Driver: pgs. 128-130.  
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Melissen, Wouter (2004-12-01). "1984-1991 Ferrari Testarossa". Ultimate car page. Retrieved 2009-01-02.  
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Carfolio: Ferrari 512 TR". Carfolio. Retrieved 2009-01-03.  
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Carfolio: Ferrari F512 M". Carfolio. Retrieved 2009-01-03.  
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Nerad, Jack. "Ferrari Testarossa". Driving Today. Retrieved 2009-01-02.  
  8. ^ Frank, Michael (2006-06-04). "Elton John's 'Red Devil' Ferrari Testarossa". Forbes. Retrieved 2009-04-30.  
  9. ^ a b c "Ferrari World: Testarossa" (Flash). Ferrari. Retrieved 2009-01-04.  
  10. ^ a b c d e "Testarossa Specifications". Retrieved 2009-01-04.  
  11. ^ 1989 Road and Driver, Exotic Edition.
  12. ^ Biggs, Henry (2006-03-06). "Top 10 Iconic 80s cars". MSN Cars UK. Retrieved 2009-01-04.  
  13. ^ a b c d e "Ferrari Testarossa Part 2: Testarossa Spider". Retrieved 2009-01-04.  
  14. ^ a b c d "Testarossa Spider". Retrieved 2009-01-04.  
  15. ^ a b c d Melissen, Wouter (2004-12-01). "Ferrari 512TR". Ultimate Car Pages. Retrieved 2009-01-04.  
  16. ^ a b c d e "Ferrari World: 512 TR" (Flash). Ferrari. Retrieved 2009-01-04.  
  17. ^ a b c d "512 TR Specifications". Retrieved 2009-01-04.  
  18. ^ a b "1993 FERRARI 512 TR". US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recall no. 94V131000. CarFax. Retrieved 2009-01-03.  
  19. ^ a b Melissen, Wouter (2005-01-01). "Ferrari F512 M". Ultimate Car Pages. Retrieved 2009-01-04.  
  20. ^ a b c d e f g "Ferrari World: F512 M" (Flash). Ferrari. Retrieved 2009-01-04.  


  • Bob Johnson. "Ferrari Testarossa". Road and Track (June 1989): 64–69.  
  • Buckley, Martin & Rees, Chris (1998). World Encyclopedia of Cars. London: Anness Publishing. ISBN 1-84038-083-7.  
  • "Retail Prices, Import Cars," Automotive News, April, 1986: page 53.
  • William Jeanes. "Preview: Ferrari 512TR". Car and Driver (March 1992): 57–59.  

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