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