FEA­TURE CAR

New Zealand Classic Car - - Feature Car -

Fer­rari was pushed into the mod­ern age of the mid-en­gined road car by ri­vals such as Lam­borgh­ini. But hav­ing given that con­fig­u­ra­tion a go with the purely com­pe­ti­tion-ori­ented 250 LM, it didn’t bless its first mid-en­gined road-go­ing car — the Dino 206/246 — with a pranc­ing horse badge. Per­haps hav­ing to fol­low Lam­borgh­ini’s lead had left Enzo Fer­rari with the taste of sour grapes in his mouth.

How­ever, once it had dipped its toes into the wa­ter, Fer­rari quickly plunged head­long into the mid-en­gined pool — and, in 1973, along came the first ‘se­nior’ Fer­rari with its en­gine po­si­tioned be­hind the driver: the 365 GT4 Ber­linetta Boxer (BB) — the ‘ boxer’ part of the model name re­fer­ring to the hor­i­zon­tally op­posed cylin­ders in the car’s flat-12 en­gine.

The 365 GT4 BB was re­placed in 1976 by the 512 BB, which, in 1984, mor­phed into the Tes­tarossa fea­tured on th­ese pages. The Tes­tarossa, of course, achieved world­wide no­to­ri­ety due to the use of a white ex­am­ple in the pop­u­lar ’80s TV show Mi­ami Vice.

Dur­ing much of the ’80s, the Tes­tarossa’s main ri­val was the rather more ex­treme Lam­borgh­ini Countach — both be­ing touted as for­mi­da­ble su­per­cars, ve­hi­cles not re­ally suited for ev­ery­day use. But is that the case? The owner of our fea­tured Tes­tarossa, Neil Tolich, has very strong views on that very sub­ject — so we sat down and lis­tened while he shared his ex­pe­ri­ences of own­ing this dra­matic-look­ing Ital­ian thor­ough­bred.

An owner’s view

Like many read­ers, Neil has owned lots of cars and reck­ons that most of them have been very re­li­able, some ex­cep­tion­ally so. How­ever, there have been new cars (in­clud­ing Audis, As­ton Mar­tins, Mercedes, BMWS, Fords, and Hon­das) that have given Neil more than his fair share of prob­lems. In­deed, he points out that some of those new cars, once out of war­ranty, will be only of av­er­age re­li­a­bil­ity but ex­pen­sive to main­tain due to their mod­ern com­puter-aided elec­tron­ics.

While we all know the truth, why are there so many ill-in­formed ar­ti­cles and blogs out there that con­tinue to den­i­grate the re­li­a­bil­ity and run­ning costs of our beloved clas­sic cars? For one, Neil sus­pects this is mostly down to ig­no­rance based on high-pro­file hor­ror sto­ries be­ing pro­mul­gated as the norm. The run­ning costs of old cars di­rectly re­late to the con­di­tion they are in, how they are main­tained and re­paired, and the com­pe­tence of their own­ers. Of course, some old cars, while road­wor­thy, may be in rel­a­tively poor con­di­tion, and, as such, will be a con­stant money pit — as is a car that has been sub­jected to a badly ex­e­cuted restora­tion.

All this prompted Neil to ask, “So, is my Fer­rari Tes­tarossa any less re­li­able than my ul­tra-re­li­able Porsche 356? An­swer — no! And are both th­ese clas­sic cars less trust­wor­thy than a mod­ern Audi? The an­swer again is no. I have had more com­po­nent fail­ures on the mod­ern cars in the past five years than the old cars.”

But how can an ’80s supercar like the Fer­rari Tes­tarossa be that re­li­able? For Neil, the an­swer is fairly straight­for­ward — “Be­cause it’s fun­da­men­tally a sim­ple ma­chine. The stun­ning en­gine is a rel­a­tively ba­sic thing me­chan­i­cally (other than hav­ing 12 cylin­ders and 48 valves), it’s sim­ple elec­tron­i­cally, it’s

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