The Classic Ferrari Testarossa Is More Coveted Than Ever

The iconic 1980s supercar made famous on “Miami Vice’ is skyrocketing in value.

(RM Sotheby’s)

In 1984, the night before the opening of that year’s Paris Motor Show at the famed Lido nightclub on the Champs Elysées, Ferrari unveiled a car that astonished the international motoring press with its incredibly audacious, avant-garde, wedge-shaped design.

Though sharing a rear-mid-mounted V12 engine and low-slung chassis with its Prancing Horse predecessors, the exotic Pininfarina bodywork made it look otherworldly for the era. Seemingly overnight the oddity became an icon. And though its popularity waned somewhat over the ensuing years, exactly 40 years later it is more sought-after than ever.

(RM Sotheby’s)

“The Ferrari Testarossa was a very important model for Ferrari,” Andrea Modena, Head of Ferrari Classiche, the Italian marque’s exclusive department handling official certification, restoration and maintenance of its heritage cars, tells Maxim on the occasion of its 40th anniversary.

“The car was of course known for its dramatic styling and the now signature strakes leading to the intakes, but it also featured several important technical innovations, such as the four valves per cylinder, the first time for a twelve-cylinder Ferrari road car. Of course the car subsequently became especially famous as it was included in several important movies and shows”—such as Miami Vice—“especially in the United States, which truly cemented its legacy.”

Small wonder then that Testarossas are increasingly fetching record prices at auction. And it’s not all due to Crockett and Tubbs. “Widely recognized as one of the sportscar icons of the 1980s, the Testarossa model has increasingly been catching the eye of collectors both of that era and with a focus towards future price appreciation,” Jarrett Rothmeier, Head of Collection and Research Development, Private Sales for RM Sotheby’s, the world’s top collector car auction house, tells Maxim.

(RM Sotheby’s)

Rothmeier breaks downs the Testarossa’s investment potential into three essential categories: “Original color, mileage and specification. Ferrari had a very limited color palate during the 1980s and 1990s, especially compared to today, and a very significant percentage of the Testarossas were originally born in ‘Rosso Corsa’ red,” he explains.

“The rare examples that were born in other colors such as silver, blue, white, black, or a few other rare colors are certainly more sought after and command higher prices. Mileage is also an important factor in determining price and those few remaining examples that either have been kept with ‘delivery mileage’ or very low mileage are very sought after by certain collectors.”

Between 1984 and 1996 when production ended, Ferrari released several different iterations of the Testarossa. “The earliest and rarest examples from 1985 and 1986,” Rothmeier points out, “known as ‘monospecchio’, or ‘single mirror’, only had one side mirror on the driver’s side of the car. Due to their rarity, these examples are often highly sought after and valued [even more] by collectors. However, the rarest version of all was the Testarossa Spider.

Only a single example was officially built by the Ferrari factory”—commissioned in 1986 by the then-Fiat chairman Gianni Agnelli to commemorate his 20 years of chairmanship of the company—“and an additional batch of 11 Spider cars were [subsequently] built by special order for a very famous royal client by official Ferrari coachbuilder Pininfarina. Against a production run of over 4,000 Testarossa examples, this very tiny group of special cars has made them the most valuable and sought after of all Testarossas.”

(RM Sotheby’s)

How valuable? The world auction record for a Testarossa was set in 2022 when RM Sotheby’s hammered down one of the “special production” Pininfarina Spiders built in 1990 for $1.65 million at its Paris sale. Prior to that the record was held by Agnelli’s own Spider “Valeo,” the 1986 original finished in silver over black, with a bespoke Ferrari logo at the rear specially cast in solid silver, which sold for $1.35 million at Artcurial’s auction at Rétromobile in Paris in 2016.

Today it might easily bring in twice as much. As for Testarossa coupes, a 1991 example in mint condition was sold for $321,000 by RM Sotheby’s at Amelia Island in 2022. Cars with celebrity provenance—famous owners over the years have included Alain Delon, Elton John, Michael Jordan, Rod Stewart, and Mike Tyson—command even more of a premium if and when they come to market.

The Testarossa’s performance was astonishing for the 1980s, and it still remains impressive 40 years later. With a top speed of just under 180 mph, the 380 horsepower rocket could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just over five seconds. And Testarossas of all years are extremely drivable, meaning many collectors benefit from the joy of being behind the wheel, instead of just admiring their “redheads” in a museum setting.