“Testarossa” translates to “Red Head” in Italian. It was the superstar-car of the 80’s, with it’s “cheese-grater” sides and high-mounted side view mirror. It was also the last of the mid-engine “flat” 12-cylinder Ferrari’s.
In the early 80’s When Ferrari decided it was time to replace the 512 Berlinetta Boxer, they started with the idea that the new car would be defined by exceptional style and design. Ferrari collaborated with their long-time design studio Pininfarina, and the Testarossa was born, The original Testa Rossa (TR250) possessed ground-breaking styling, design and performance, Ferrari’s goal was to achieve that same ‘wow factor’ almost 30 years later. Most would agree that they met that goal. The new Testarossa had presence, it was low & wide and looked exotic.
Throughout the years, Ferrari constantly improved and enhanced the Testarossa and in 1991, it eventually evolved into the 512TR, and the F512M in 1995. With each new model, the styling, interior and performance were improved. Every version of the Testarossa was consistently capable of rocketing to 60 mph from a stop in less than 5 seconds (extraordinary for the day) on it’s way to top speeds of over 180 mph (still extraordinary today).
At the Paris Motor Show in October of 1994, Ferrari introduced the final version of the fabulous Testarossa series – designated the F512M. The letter “M” stood for ‘modificata’ and the vehicle featured a freshened design, an upgraded engine & transmission, and various other internal and external modifications that truly made this rendition the “beast” of the Testarossa series. Small but noticeable design details were changed to update the exterior appearance. The iconic pop-up headlights were scrapped in favor of covered projector-beam units. Along with a reshaped front grill, the front end looked distinctly different – and somewhat controversial. Out back, the grate-covered rectangular tail lights were replaced by four circular units, a Ferrari tradition since the late 60’s. A little Ferrari trivia for you: the only other models to sport rectangular tail lights were the 1973-1980 GT4 and the 1989-1994 348 series. The only other obvious cosmetic difference was the addition of 18” directional 3-piece Speedline wheels. Some people liked them, most people did not.
There were a total of 75 of these models produced for the U.S., only five of them were yellow. This particular Testarossa was one of three US cars sold with the striking Giallo over Nero color combination. Due to the rarity of the 512M – they have, in typical Ferrari fashion, skyrocketed in value. This exact 512M was purchased in 2007 for $120,000 – and in 2015 it sold for $345,000. !!!! That’s why people that don’t even care about cars are buying them, they are now considered “investment cars”.
Stats & Figures:
Engine – mid-mounted “flat” or “boxer” Horizontally opposed 5-Liter 12-Cylinder with 48 valves, alloy cylinder block and heads, and a compression ratio of 10.4:1 – 432 hp @ 6750 rpm’s with 367 ft-lbs torque – shifting of the gears was done by a 5-speed manual through the famous gated shifter… “clicking-clacking” through the gears.
Body & Chassis – tubular chassis, 3208 lbs total, 176.4” in length, 77.8” wide, and only 44.7” in height. Cross-drilled & ventilated disc brakes with aluminum calipers on all four corners, Bosch Anti-Lock Brakes.
Front & rear suspension – independent, double unequal-length wishbones, coil springs, gas dampers, and an anti-roll bar to try to keep it all in check.
This machine was controlled by drilled aluminum pedals with accelerator pedal adjustment.
512 M Performance: 0 to 60 mph in 4.6 second, 0 to 100 mph in 10.2 seconds, 196 mph top speed
Fuel Economy – who cares?!
Perhaps the F512M experience is best summed up by an excerpt from an article in Road and Track magazine:
”Though no longer the fastest road-legal Ferrari the big mid-engine exotic from Maranello can only be called unique. Its styling is dramatic, its highway manners nearly flawless and that big 12-cylinder engine makes a soul-stirring sound you will hear nowhere else. It’s a combination of desirable attributes difficult to improve upon, even for Ferrari.”