It should not be confused with the Ferrari TR "Testa Rossa" of the late 1950s and early 1960s. These were GT sports cars that ran in the World Sportscar Championship, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The car won many comparison tests and admirers - it was featured on the cover of Road & Track magazine nine times in just five years. Almost 10,000 Testarossas, 512 TRs, and F512 Ms were produced, making it one of the most common Ferrari models, despite its high price and exotic design. The price of the Testarossa in the US was $181,000 in 1989, including a $2,700 "gas-guzzler" tax. The original selling price in the UK was £62,666
The car's roots may be traced back to the BB 512i of 1981. Both shared the same basic platform, though the Testarossa added coilover shock absorbers to the double wishbones at the rear. The engine was similar, too, though it now featured 4 valves per cylinder. One significant mechanical difference was the radiator: the 512 BB featured a single radiator in the nose, while the Testarossa used a pair of smaller units on each side in front of the rear wheels. This necessitated the distinctive side-mounted air intakes and strakes, as well as the wide body. It also helped in lowering the cabin's temperature, since the radiator's hoses did not run under it.
Although successful on the road, the Testarossa did not appear on race tracks, unlike the BB 512i, which had done so with minor success.
As the car became synonymous with 80s yuppies and nowadays plays a part of the 80's retro culture, such popularity meant that the Testarossa has made appearance in numerous video games, even in its illustrations, most notably Out Run and in the TV series Miami Vice, onward from season three. Even its side strakes has at the time became a popular aftermarket body component for wide arch kits. The Testarossa still frequently makes appearances in video games.
The original Testarossa was thoroughly re-engineered for 1991 and released as the 512 TR, effectively a completely new car. It increased the output of the 4.9 L engine to .
The 512 TR's engine was modified in many ways. Nikasil liners were added, along with a new air intake system, Bosch engine management system, 10.1:1 compression ratio with new pistons, larger intake valves, and a revised exhaust system. In addition to the higher peak power, the modifications delivered a more broad power curve for better acceleration.
Gearshifting effort, long a complaint about the Testarossa, was eased with a new single-plate clutch, sliding ball bearings, and better angle for the shifter. The braking system included larger front rotors and cross-drilling all around. Quicker steering, lower-profile tires, and new shock settings improved handling. Most importantly, engine and gearbox position was rethought, which improved the centre of gravity, aiding the handling and making the car less fearsome on the limit.
The interior was revised too, with the center console split from the dashboard, and the climate controls relocated. Pininfarina tweaked the body of the car to better integrate the spoilers and engine cover and update the design in line with the recently released 348. A recall was issued in 1995, regarding fuel hose fitting issues. Over 400 models had this defect. Certain variances in temperature and environment would cause the hose to fail.
The 512 TR could accelerate to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.8 seconds and could reach the quarter mile mark in 12.8 seconds. Top speed was 192 mph (309 km/h). It cost US$212,160 in 1992 with luxury items, the "gas-guzzler" taxes, and destination freight.
501 examples were produced, 75 as right hand drive.
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