A-Z Supercars: Ferrari Testarossa, 512TR and F512 M

The Testarossa and its derivatives were Ferrari’s flag-bearers right into the ’90s

Successor to the Berlinetta Boxer and destined to be locked in a desperate psychological arm-wrestle with Lamborghini’s Countach, the Testarossa offered a crucial contrast in style and impact. Whereas the Lambo used its sharp angles and aggressive appendages for visual drama, the Ferrari relied more on its considerable width (it had 8cm on the Countach, itself hardly snake-hipped) and accentuated this advantage with flared slats and a shallow rear aspect. The overall effect was more conventional but combined a degree of subtlety with sledgehammer presence.

The Testarossa’s 390bhp 4.9-litre flat-12 – toting just as many camshafts and valves as the Countach QV’s V12 – was pretty much smashed to the table in the arm wrestle but was smooth, flexible and almost symphonically tuneful, sounding a bit like two Porsche 911s yoked together but with a very strong sense of ‘stereo’. In truth, the Testarossa was a more softly focused machine than the Lambo – a superfast, two-seater GT rather than a raw, red-blooded racer.

Subscribe to evo magazine

evo is 21 and to celebrate, we're returning to 1998 prices! Subscribe now to SAVE 39% on the shop price and get evo for its original cover price of £3.00 an issue, plus get a FREE gift worth £25!

Find a used Ferrari Testarossa for sale on the Classic and Performance Car site 

But if the Countach was comfortably more accelerative, it was a closer run thing on top speed and the Ferrari had superior cruising refinement. For pure driving excitement, it had to be the Lambo, but the Testarossa was easier 
on the nerves and its flat-12 a great engine to live with.

Advertisement - Article continues below

It would undergo two major repackaging exercises – first in 1992 when it reappeared as the 512TR with a 428bhp version of the flat-12 and improved dynamics, and finally in 1994 as the F512 M, the M standing for the Italian modificato. The 440bhp 196mph F512 M was to be the last of the flat-12-engined Ferraris, truly the end of an era. The marque’s next ‘mainstream’ supercar with a 12-cylinder engine would be the front-engined 550 Maranello.


Years made 1984-1991 Engine Flat-12, 4943cc (Testarossa) Max power 390bhp @ 6300rpm Torque 361lb ft @ 4500rpm 0-60mph 5.2sec Max speed 178mph Price £63,000 new,c£50-100,000 today


Most Popular


£6million Lancia collection of dreams to go under the hammer

World Rally-winning Group A Integrale stars in world’s best collection of racing Lancias
24 Jan 2020
SEAT Leon Cupra

SEAT Leon Cupra R ST Abt review

50 horsepower boost puts extra pep in the Leon Cupra’s already athletic step
23 Jan 2020

Dodge Charger given 1500bhp, widebody kit and AWD 

US-based Speedkore Performance works its magic for one-off creation
22 Jan 2020
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 Fastback N versus the Col de Turini

We take the Hyundai i30 Fastback N up the Col de Turini, a 31km stage of the Monte Carlo World Rally Championship
19 Jul 2019