Courtesy of H&H
  • 30,350 recorded miles and current ownership since 2004
  • One of 88 RHD examples and one of just 50 early non-ABS cars
  • Offered with book pack, service book and handbooks
Ferrari’s mid-engined, flat-12 Testarossa was unveiled to an expectant media at the Champs Elysees Lido nightclub on the eve of the 1984 Paris Salon. Although it was an evolution of the 512 BBi, it was of markedly different appearance — it was nearly six inches wider than its predecessor. By the time of the 1992 Los Angeles Auto Show, the model had been heavily re-engineered and re-launched as the 512 TR.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1992 Ferrari 512 TR
Years Produced:1991–94
Number Produced:2,261
Original List Price:$195,600
SCM Valuation:$143,000
Tune Up Cost:$10,000–$15,000
Distributor Caps:$575
Chassis Number Location:Rear upper frame right side
Engine Number Location:In flat top area of engine above cylinder #6
Club Info:Ferrari Club of America; Ferrari Owner’s Club
Alternatives:1988 Lamborghini Countach, 1992 Bugatti EB110, 1993 Porsche C2 Turbo
Investment Grade:C

This car, Lot 104, sold for $120,385, including buyer’s premium, at the H&H Classics Imperial War Museum Auction in Duxford, U.K., on June 19, 2019.

Sir Paul McCartney, when asked if the broken-up Beatles would get back together again, famously answered that you can’t reheat a soufflé.

The same might have been said of improving the Ferrari Testarossa. The original was so stylish and so well engineered that the idea that it could be vastly improved was almost unthinkable. Yet when Ferrari released the 512 TR, the reheated Testarossa was clearly superior to the original.

In the beginning…

Introduced in 1984 and brought to the United States in 1985, the Ferrari Testarossa was a replacement model for the mid-mounted flat-12-cylinder 365/512 Boxer series. The Testarossa may have been in the same Boxer family, but the car was so different in execution that they are hardly comparable.

The Boxers were built to a high quality for a sports car — but they are a bit raw for a Grand Touring model. The engine revved so quickly that a clutch could be destroyed during an overzealous stoplight launch. The suspension was a bit stiff, and the noise level was pleasantly on the high side.

The Boxer’s air conditioning was a tick under adequate. The Boxer’s creature comforts were just enough to get by. It was a ruckus car that was fun to drive when you had space to push it, but driving one in a confined area was not entirely satisfying.

The exterior of the Boxer was unique but not overly exciting. One of the car magazines put a Boxer through a test where one was strategically placed in a parking lot of a grocery store to watch the reaction of the patrons. The reaction was underwhelming, with few patrons paying any attention to one of the most important cars on the planet at the time. Perhaps if they would have tilted up the Boxer’s front and rear hatches, the response would have been different.

The refined Testarossa

The Testarossa saw a refinement in the Boxer’s manners and styling that was daring and revolutionary. The front and rear ends looked like they were designed at two different drawing boards, but the flat sides with cheese-grater grilles blended them together like some witch’s brew.

Ferrari had learned with the F40 that they could build a car with race-car performance that could also meet international safety and emission standards. Ferrari wanted the Testarossa to build on the F40’s lessons and felt the result was 80% of an F40.

The Testarossa tamed the Boxer engine to a potent — yet entirely tractable — package. The interior was exquisitely finished with gobs of leather, good air conditioning and a noise level that was conducive to normal conversation at any speed.

The seats featured large bolsters designed to hold the occupants secure at forces that few drivers would ever attempt. The Testarossa was a Grand Touring car of the highest order.

The 512 TR

In late 1991, Ferrari introduced an upgrade of the Testarossa called the 512 TR. Often, updated models are little more than the former car with a trim package, but not so with the 512 TR. Pininfarina tweaked the 512 TR’s front and rear bodywork to a cohesive appearance — and then replaced the Testarossa’s 16-inch wheels with more-modern 18-inch wheels.

Opening the door exposed a whole new interior. Very attractive new seats had smaller bolsters, allowing easier entry and exit. The dash, door panels and console were new, as was nearly every surface.

The most memorable difference was the sound. A new intake manifold and exhaust transformed the sound of the car. The intake manifold produced a noise that was similar to the air whooshing into carburetors. The exhaust was slightly louder, with a better tone. There was no mistaking that the Testarossa had been re-purposed and improved.

The original Testarossa was fast and impressive but lacked a sports-car feel. The 512 TR traded some of the Testarossa’s Grand Touring qualities for the sportiness of the V8 Ferraris.

New engine-management components, higher compression and the new manifold added an astonishing 41 horsepower to the 512 TR’s engine. New shocks, suspension upgrades, larger brakes and transmission improvements complemented the power upgrade. The 0–60 mph time dropped from 5.7 to 4.8 seconds. Top speed also increased.

Up and down

SCM’s last Ferrari 512 TR profile was in July 2014 (p. 52). The Ferrari market was on a serious upswing. The subject car of that profile sold for $143,000, which was $50,000 above what it would have sold for a little more than a year previously. I noted that the owner should have been thrilled. The market continued upward, and $143,000 would have been a big disappointment in 2015.

The SCM Platinum Auction Database shows 2015 512 TR sales of $182,560, $275,000, $195,250, $440,000 and $170,000.

Today is a new world, and 2015 values are a distant memory. The sky has not fallen and there is no sense of panic, but a lot of desirable cars have come on the market since 2015.

Depreciated modern Ferrari V8s and V12s now sell in the 512 TR’s price range. Serious new Porsche models, beautiful Astons, and really fast Lamborghinis are also competition for 512 TR customers.

The Platinum Database shows recent 512 TR auction sales in the $130,000 to $180,000 range. A survey of the U.S. 512 TR market finds ultra-low-mileage trophy examples will break into the $200,000 range. Sellers still asking over $200,000 for average examples are just being delusional. The European market is more rational, with pricing in line with SCM’s Pocket Price Guide.

Our subject 512 TR

H&H’s 512 TR looks to have sold a little light. However, this wasn’t a car to stretch for. The color was attractive but of limited appeal. The car had reasonable mileage but had been completely repainted.

Ferrari’s paint quality in the era of the 512 TR was excellent. The only reason for a respray is some kind of drama. There was no confirmation that the very expensive engine-out belt service had been done. The service mentioned was of the repair rather than maintenance variety.

The buyer may be reconsidering the purchase price when they get the major service bill. The seller may be somewhat unhappy, but did just fine. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of H&H.)

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