Ferraris can still face the stereotype of low-mileage garage queens accumulating hundreds of carefully driven miles on some coastal road, before being put back into the garage to wait for months for another outing. The relatively recent crop of delivery-mileage Testarossas that had been hitting the auction circuit has only reinforced this image, with cars snatched up by the dozen in the darkest days of the 1987 stock market crash and not driven since.
But every once in a while we come across a classic or youngtimer Ferrari that had clearly been driven and enjoyed, being afraid of neither the rain nor the traffic.
In a few days one such Testarossa with 82,124 miles on the odometer and plenty of signs of usage will come up for auction, offering a 1980s experience that could land within the price range of a new, well-optioned pickup truck. It’s an early model hailing from 1986 with a single high-set mirror, and finished in the obligatory color. Just like the one from the poster you had on your wall.
The Testarossa, in case you’ve forgotten the details with everything that’s going on in the world, debuted in 1984 as a true volume successor to the Berlinetta Boxer, borrowing its mid-mounted 5.0-liter flat-twelve good for 380 hp. Smaller in person than in photos and sitting impossibly low, in a way that can surprise first-time observers, the Testarossa offered plenty of style thanks to the side strakes, as well as 180-mph top speed. A luxurious and roomy cabin offered plenty of comfort in addition to user-friendly controls—a bit of a rarity for the time when it came to hand-built sports cars. The well-proportioned interior and the easy controls made it an instant hit in the marketplace, even without a giant rear spoiler. The Testarossa quickly became the automotive symbol of a whole decade among exotic cars, and has remained such nearly 40 years after its debut.
The example that Bonhams will offer later this month was produced in July 1986, optioned in the popular Corsa Red color over a tan interior—arguably the most crowd-pleasing color scheme for this model—and was sold new in the U.S. But just where it was first sold isn’t actually known due to a gap in records. Bonhams notes that this car’s known history starts in the mid-1990s, when the Testarossa lived in Southern California and had (hopefully) visited an official dealership from time to time. The car is believed to have stayed in California since that time, but how many owners it’s had isn’t known either. It’s being offered with an owner’s manual and tools, but Bonhams doesn’t say whether it will also include a service book showing work performed.
In photos the car appears to fully reflect its indicated 82,124 miles, with several scratches on its front spoiler, dust on the center console, a well-worn driver’s seat, discoloration on the headlights and turn signals and some traces of impactors on the front fascia. Bonhams reports that the car had been “retained in its factory livery,” a narrow reading of which does not rule out partial or complete repaints in the original color. (The livery could be factory, meaning the originally supplied color had not been changed to something else, but repaints in that original livery could still have taken place).
The auction house estimates this Testarossa to bring between $65,000 and $85,000 on auction day. If that range doesn’t seem like a lot for a Testarossa these days, that’s because that’s not where the best examples of this model trade, so the estimate range here reflects the mileage and cosmetic condition. What kinds of services the car might need quite soon is not mentioned.
There are Testarossas with more miles out there—that much is fairly certain—and most of these cars have meticulously-kept records. And if you have the budget you can get a brand-new Testarossa in 2021 with delivery miles, and you’ll probably even be able to pick the year and color because there is a whole auction category out there for such things with trackable values.
When it comes to high-mileage examples, on the other hand, it’s best to remember that a lot of these cars accumulated most of their miles in the first five years of use, and then did a few hundred miles per year in each successive year when not sitting on flattened tires in a garage in some vacation home. Just during which decade this car did most of its driving isn’t immediately clear.
But if you want a driver-grade Testarossa and aren’t picky about exterior imperfections, this roll of the dice will attract those kinds of bidders.
Visit the auction site to view the full list of lots and detailed auction schedule.
Would you buy this car if it were offered at the low estimate range of $65,000? Let us know in the comments below.
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