Emotive Appeal of the Testarossa

Article by Lorraine Yapps-Cohen

Ask any guy about a Testarossa and he’ll say he could write volumes about what’s under the hood. Ask anyone else and they’ll say what their emotional start button does when watching a Testarossa, and that’s only what turns on first. There’s so much more that comes on with that car.

I was minding my own routine existence as a decently mature woman, wife, mother, chief bottle washer at home, respected professional at work, who drove what I thought was a cool champagne-tan Chevy convertible at the time when a pair of delicious detectives in a new TV series called “Miami Vice” showed up in a white Ferrari. The two crime stoppers – acting as James Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs — got my attention too. No, it glued me solid to the TV to see the handsome, eye-popping, crime-stopping, Vice Squad duo doing their thing to nab the bad dudes in a seriously gorgeous Ferrari – a Testarossa, as white as winter snow where there never is any, ever.

 “Miami Vice” brought sexy unbuttoned pastel shirts, white suits, and no-socks wardrobes for men to delight the women watching the show.  Maybe the men watching lamented why boring “business casual” still prevailed in their own workplaces without a Ferrari ever offered as the company car. But the Testarossa got everybody’s attention, from one’s head on down, as the real star of the show for the obscenely stunning car that hit the chase scenes running flat-out fast, without so much as an iota of bad-shocks body sway or rear end spinning out, to catch criminals as well as to take two detectives lavishly to their next lurid location for investigation. Testarossa became a household word for young, old, and everyone in between watching the show while stirring up every emotional response imaginable among the viewers. The show stood as the sexy stimulant of TV screens for six years in a row, and the car wasn’t nicknamed the “Testosterossa” for nothing.

With Ferrari having brought those striking strakes to the sides of the Testarossa as its most stunning stylistic feature, they stood as the element de rigueur of the decade for the marque. It’s what made Testarossa stand out from the growing crowd of exotic super styling, the innovation that banished boredom in bodywork forever, the element that made you look, you dirty crook, while the Vice Men in Miami got the bad guys with the help of their hot car and fancy garb, if only on TV.

The fantasy of the Testarossa was shown helping to save the world from evil, combined with the sweet pastel savvy of the city of Miami, its warm pleasures, and lusty imagery. The Testarossa stood also as an allusion to the decadence that lay beneath the bright white of a Vice Squad’s day on Miami streets and the reason its producers chose “cocaine-white” as the color of the Ferrari featured in the show. Conflicting symbolic imagery reigned supreme in that amazing Ferrari as the essence of the entire production.

Ferraris, being the expensive cars they are, didn’t daunt the producers in that they retrofitted a couple of Corvettes with Testarossa body panels for use in action street scenes posing a risk of crash. They did this during the first two years of “Miami Vice” production. Enzo Ferrari, however, stood incensed when he learned that the show car was not a real Ferrari, whereupon he agreed to provide genuine Testarossas for the show – two of them, in white, as requested from the producers. The real Testarossas, of course, appeared only in static scenes, whereas action shots used the Testarossa lookalikes.

The San Diego area is graced with at least four Testarossas among its Owners Club members. Having been enchanted with the iconic car and two Hollywood hunks every week for the six years “Miami Vice” aired on TV, I was curious about whether the show had the same emotive effect on Testarossas’ current owners. What one notable owner in the National Club says about his car seems to sum it up for all owners and observers of the famous Testarossa:  

From Rich Adams, Ferrari Club National Board Chairman about his 1990 Testarossa, Giallo (Fly Yellow)

“When the Testarossa first came out, I didn’t like the strakes on the side of the car. I thought them too gauche. It wasn’t until I researched the reason for them as ducting air into the radiators and the grill to keep hands out of the radiators that I began truly appreciating them. They aren’t just there for looks. They have a distinct function.

I get many kind comments about my car while attending San Clemente’s Cars & Coffee every Saturday morning such as ‘When I was a kid I had a poster of a Testarossa on my bedroom wall. I’ve always wanted one. Thank you for bringing yours,’ or ‘If I knew your car was going to be here today I would have come just to see it.’ In a direct compliment to my particular Ferrari, I’ve heard things like ‘I’ve seen all the cars here today and your Testarossa is my absolute favorite,’ and ‘No matter the greater value of some of the other cars here, yours is Best of Show.’

Although I have no power steering, no power brakes, no split-second paddle shifters or modern day suspension, I consider the car a challenge to keep my driving skills sharp. I prize my ability to keep up with the modern day high-tech Ferraris on our Club drives. “

So watch out, Crockett and Tubbs, because today’s Testarossa owners have the road before them, the wind at their backs, and no vice crimes to stop them in their tracks.

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