New Zealand Classic Car - - Feature Car -

a clas­sic car en­thu­si­ast who ab­so­lutely loves driv­ing his cars, and, over the last two years, he’s cov­ered over 3000km an­nu­ally — the Fer­rari ap­pears to be rel­ish­ing this reg­u­lar run­ning.

“When I got the Tes­tarossa, it had been used just enough to keep all O-rings, seals, and gas­kets moist or safe. But, dur­ing my ini­tial test drive, the brakes were dodgy. It also needed a new cam belt, ten­sioner, and bear­ings. That all means en­gine out — and a full ser­vice.”

This ma­jor ser­vice in­cluded fit­ting a new twin-plate clutch, new air conditioner belts and a re-gas, 15 litres of Pen­rite High Zinc 10- 60 oil and fil­ter, plus drain­ing and re­fill­ing both ra­di­a­tors with in­hibitors. More cos­met­i­cally, the car also re­quired a new bon­net ca­ble, re­place­ment of a faulty elec­tric win­dow switch, new gas struts for the en­gine lid, and hav­ing the tyres prop­erly bal­anced. Also, new brake pads were fit­ted along with re­built wheel cylin­ders. The to­tal parts cost (of the Fer­rari items) for this ma­jor ser­vice was $2799, plus 26.5 hours labour at $2120.

“To my mind,” Neil said, “This was within the realms of rea­son­able­ness for a ma­jor ser­vice and recom­mis­sion­ing of a 25-year-old Fer­rari by a re­spected Fer­rari agent.”

Neil reck­ons that there’s lots of con­tro­versy about Fer­rari cam-belt changes, with manda­tory re­place­ment ev­ery three years ir­re­spec­tive of mileage, ac­cord­ing to the hand­book. How­ever, many global Fer­rari ser­vice ex­perts say five years (or even more) is fine. Ev­i­dently, the real is­sue with cam belts re­lates to cars be­ing stored un­used for years with the belts sta­tion­ary at full ten­sion, which is when belt weak­nesses can de­velop.

As Neil said, “So, it’s best to run the en­gine up reg­u­larly, even if just to warm the oils and move the belt around. Any­way, with the low­ish and reg­u­lar miles I do, the cam belt will be done ev­ery four years. The Auck­land Fer­rari agent, Con­ti­nen­tal Cars, has just done a ‘nor­mal’ an­nual ser­vice, and the cost was around $800.”

only sta­bil­ity con­trol is the bit of mush be­tween the driver’s ears!”

Tractabil­ity is as­sured by the en­gine’s Bosch K-jetronic fuel injection, but cold gear­box oil trig­gers a com­mon clas­sic Fer­rari com­plaint — and that means tak­ing time to shift from the dog-leg first gear, across the gor­geous al­loy gate, to se­cond. How­ever, if you warm the en­gine for a few min­utes and al­low some heat to seep into the gear­box, it thins the oil just enough to al­low it to ooze past the ‘ blind’ slider shaft hole, which then lets se­cond gear slip in eas­ily.

“What as­tounds me is just how gen­tle and fuss­free the Tes­tarossa is to drive,” Neil ex­plained. “Yes, the steer­ing is a bit heavy at low speeds, but it’s fine on the move. The clutch en­gages smoothly, with a wide sweet spot, and en­gine torque means you can drop to 1000rpm and still pull away in fifth with­out com­plaint. The brakes have great feel and are strong even by mod­ern stan­dards. The car rides smoothly, and, at any cruis­ing speed, it’s rel­a­tively quiet — and cruis­ing is what is does so well. It’s sta­ble at tremen­dous speeds with­out the help of wings and spoil­ers.” Con­tin­ued on page 42 ...

The Fer­rari Tes­tarossa has al­ways been a car which has sat high on my ‘cars I’d love to own one day’ list, but, alas, as their prices climbed higher and higher and con­tin­u­ally out­stripped my di­min­ish­ing bud­get, the pos­si­bil­ity of own­ing such a car be­came, in re­al­ity, noth­ing but a dream.

Then, when Neil Tolich was kind enough to sug­gest that I take his glo­ri­ous, low-mileage Tes­tarossa for a de­cent drive, my im­me­di­ate thought was, ‘I hope it doesn’t dis­ap­point’. Af­ter all, I have held th­ese cars in such high es­teem for so long that it was with a feel­ing of ner­vous trep­i­da­tion, com­bined with a high level of ex­cite­ment, that I ac­cepted his gen­er­ous in­vi­ta­tion — and what a sur­prise it turned out to be.

Our route took us through a few of Auck­land’s North Shore sub­urbs, be­fore head­ing onto the mo­tor­way north­bound to­wards Albany. Neil drove the first leg of the jour­ney and was keen to point out how civ­i­lized this ul­tra-wide low-slung supercar could be, even while tack­ling Auck­land’s less-than-favourable driv­ing con­di­tions. To be hon­est, Neil — who many of you will know from his Targa New Zealand and race­track ex­ploits — is an ex­tremely com­pe­tent and skil­ful driver, and he made pi­lot­ing the Tes­tarossa seem so easy, tootling along at high­way speed while the air con­di­tion­ing pro­vided a com­fort­ably cool cabin. In fact, I was be­gin­ning to feel con­vinced that it could be used as an ev­ery­day driver. What a thought!

Once off the main high­way, we headed into some nice, wind­ing back roads, where Neil was able to give me a brief in­sight into this car’s im­pres­sive han­dling char­ac­ter­is­tics at pace, leav­ing lit­tle doubt in my mind as to why the Fer­rari Tes­tarossa was un­doubt­edly the Lam­borgh­ini Countach’s great­est arch ri­val.

Then it was my turn to get be­hind the wheel. Fi­nally, the time had come for me to drive one of my all-time favourite ex­otics — and what a feel­ing.

The first thing one must re­al­ize when driv­ing clas­sic cars — in this case, a 25-year-old ex­otic — is that they aren’t go­ing to per­form in a way that your mod­ern daily-com­muter will. Th­ese cars de­serve re­spect, and, yes, they all have their idio­syn­cra­sies and odd quirks, but only when you’ve rec­on­ciled that fact can you en­joy what the car has to of­fer.

In the case of the Tes­tarossa, com­pared with the Countach, my ini­tial im­pres­sion was how smooth and docile the pranc­ing horse was to drive. Dig the spurs in a lit­tle fur­ther, and the big boxer en­gine bursts into life ef­fort­lessly as the deeper reaches of the ac­cel­er­a­tor pedal’s travel are ex­plored, pro­vid­ing enough per­for­mance to equal many of to­day’s per­for­mance cars.

As my skill lev­els pale into in­signif­i­cance next to Neil’s, I wasn’t about to start throw­ing this in­cred­i­ble ma­chine into cor­ners with reck­less aban­don; in­stead, I opted for a more cau­tious ap­proach — but this still pro­vided me with am­ple feel­ing for the car. I had even for­got­ten about the Tes­tarossa’s oft-noted width. The steer­ing, while heavy, was ex­tremely di­rect, and the level of com­fort when push­ing closer to the limit was a sen­sa­tion that I wasn’t ex­pect­ing. The beau­ti­fully up­hol­stered leather seats were com­fort­able and sup­port­ive, and there was more than enough head­room for some­one who’s 1.85m tall. As for the gear changes, for­get what you may have read — the Tes­tarossa’s gear lever moves flu­ently through the open-gate sys­tem, al­lied to a clutch that makes the process both seam­less and ef­fort­less.

Once back at base, and with time to re­flect on my ex­pe­ri­ence of driv­ing both the Tes­tarossa and the Countach, I came to the con­clu­sion that, de­spite the fact they both orig­i­nated in the same era, th­ese two su­per­cars are, in­deed, quite dif­fer­ent to each other.

For bet­ter or worse, our world has cer­tainly changed sig­nif­i­cantly since the ’80s — to­day’s roads are heav­ily congested, speed lim­its are more ir­reg­u­lar, and peo­ple gen­er­ally take a dim view when­ever thirsty, fast cars are in­volved.

That said, I’d hap­pily park a Tes­tarossa in my garage.

To­tal pro­duc­tion (1973–’76): 387 En­gine ca­pac­ity and power: 4390cc / 253kw at 7200rpm

To­tal pro­duc­tion (1991–’94): 2280 En­gine power and ca­pac­ity: 4943cc / 315kw at 6750rpm To­tal pro­duc­tion (1994–’96): 500 En­gine ca­pac­ity and power: 4943cc / 324kw at 6750rpm

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