The Ferrari Testarossa Was A Rolling Symbol Of Glorious 80s Excess

"It was about the 80s, the sexy 80s. It was about excess. Far too much money. Shoulder pads and big hair."

You could argue all day long that the Ferrari F40 or Porsche 959 were the ultimate cars of the 1980s. Maybe they were. But as far as perfectly embodying that era and its values, I think the Ferrari Testarossa is the one that takes the cake.

That doesn't mean it was just a show pony. Far from it. The Testarossa had the power and noise to back up its vulgar, sophisticated looks, power that came from a 4.9-liter flat-12 engine. It was a hell of a performer in its time and probably no slouch today.


In this latest (free!) episode of /DRIVE, Ferrari expert and former racer John Pogson recounts his experience with the Testarossa. There's a tunnel run about 3:20 in that's just pure noise and pure sex.

A crazy car from a crazy decade indeed.

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ben loves his new "real" SUV

OK, so it was 1990, but I spent the summer living with my father and working in a very posh mountain resort town. He had a lovely '86 911 Targa that he would not let me drive because "I was not on the insurance", so I was stuck with my '77 Rabbit.

I went to work for a property management company as an "Environmental Designer, level one", or yard boy to you and me. One of my properties was a block of condos that had been built by the heiress to a large food conglomerate. Because they were being shown by realtors during the day, one of my duties there was to go through each unit to make sure it was locked down for the night.

So you can imagine my surprise when one afternoon, I checked to make sure the garage door was closed on unit #1 and found a MB 560SL and a 911 cab parked inside. Unit #2 housed a MB 560 SEL and a Maserati Biturbo.

Unit #3 was the biggie: a gorgeous red Testerossa all by her lonesome.

In a kind of panicked state I went to the heiress to tell her about these cars that someone was hiding in her building, and after a good laugh, she told me that they were hers. She had decided it was "silly" to pay to store them when she had parking available to her.

The Ferrari was a birthday gift from her father, but she told me that she hardly drove it because the clutch was too heavy and she hated the shifter. We chatted a bit more when she hit upon a brilliant idea! Would I please, please, pretty please drive the car for her to put some miles on it so her father would know that she liked it?

It was every 18 year old's dream. I put the Rabbit in the garage and drove the Fezza home. It took it's place in the garage, pushing our Suburban and Dad's 911 to the driveway. Every time Dad asked to drive it, I would just smile and remind him that he wasn't on the insurance.

It was a good summer.