Ferrari’s 1984 Testarossa is the embodiment of the breath-taking supercar. It’s also one of the most svelte and seductive performers from the stable of the prancing horse, offering an accessibility and ease of use which has sometimes earned it the criticism of being a poser’s car.
You can’t deny that, after the initial slightly ungracious entry to the 45-inch-low cabin, there is little resistance to your setting off and just driving, save for a baulking gear change when cold. But its abilities run far deeper than merely cruising the trendiest streets in town.
You immediately notice the Testarossa’s willingness to trot smoothly along in traffic, just on tickover. At slow speeds, the steering lets you feel the machine’s size and weight (60 per cent of which is located to the mid and rear), but it’s never intimidating. Still, you’re aware that the nose drops immediately out of sight and those straked sides swell out to more than six foot in width at the back.
None of that will deter you – there’s something terribly compelling in the way that, as you gently press your right foot forward, the power rolls up out of nowhere. There’s no jerk or shove – 2500rpm just appears under the bright orange tacho needle and climbs, the muted burr of the engine (which sounds like a robot playing a didgeridoo at walking pace) warming into a darker growl.
There’s a slight tensing across your shoulder muscles as you push the lever through the gate claws, encountering heavy resistance followed by a sudden submission and that silken power immediately there again – any gear, any gradient. Suddenly you realise that your perceived 40mph is actually 70mph and the Ferrari Testarossa is limbering up, dismissing bends with only slight inferences of your forearms and sensitive control of the pedals.
Finally, on long straights, the growl gives way to the wailing of the exhaust as the thing sucks the road beneath it, turning it into a streaking grey blur. You’ll back down way before the Ferrari does.
There are times where you might want the more guttural sound and shove of its older sister, the 512BB, or the ten-tenths mechanical communication of deadly rival the Lamborghini Countach. But as you drive a Testarossa, catching a glimpse of the sweeping lines in reflections and dipping into that towering ability to cover ground so quickly and effortlessly, you realise that probably no one has created a more capable or charismatic sports tourer.