1968 Ferrari Testarossa Spider
In 1984, Ferrari wowed the sports car industry with the Testarossa, a mid-engined, V-12-powered model developed to replace the aging Berlinetta Boxer. Created to fix the faults of its predecessor, which included a cabin that got increasingly hot from the plumbing that ran between the front-mounted radiator and the mid-mounted engine, and a lack of luggage space, the Testarossa became famous for its side strakes and ultra-wide rear track. In just a few years, it became an iconic figure of 1980’s pop culture, especially after staring in the third season of Miami Vice.
Like its forerunner, the Testarossa was conceived as a coupe only, with all the 7,177 units leaving the Maranello factory with a metal top. Except for one Testarossa Spider that was built in 1986.
Although Maranello never intended to produce a drop-top version, it made an exception for Gianni Agnelli, the man who at the time was the main honcho at Fiat, which had purchased Ferrari in 1969.
Nearly three decades have passed since Agnelli received his unique Testarossa, and the sports car is off to find a new home at the Artcurial Retromobile Sale in February 2016. Until the Spider goes under the hammer, let’s have a closer look at the only factory-built Testarossa in existence.
Continue reading to learn more about the 1968 Ferrari Testarossa Spider.
Note: Images credit Artcurial.
1968 Ferrari Testarossa Spider
Identical to the standard production car below the waistline, the Testarossa Spider received a new engine hood and a revised windshield besides losing its top. While the coupe’s hood had a body-colored power bulge atop the black-painted grille, the Spider has a smooth, louvered cover. The windscreen sits lower and the side windows are shorter, while the storage space behind the seats is now used to hide the white canvas roof.
The windscreen sits lower and the side windows are shorter, while the storage space behind the seats is now used to hide the white canvas roof.
Painted in an unusual color for a 1980s Ferrari — the silver theme refers to the periodic table abbreviation for silver: Ag, the first two letters of Agnelli’s name — the car also sports blue stripes above the side skirts and the front lower bumper element, as well below the side windows and around the lower section of the windscreen. The car’s Prancing Horse emblems are also cast in silver to go with the overall theme.
Although exotic by appearance, I find the Testarossa Spider to be less appealing than the coupe. The ultra-wide rear end goes better with a roof, while the engine hood looks like a cheese grater. That’s not to say I would mind owning it; I just like to rant about cars I can’t afford...
Aside from the changes that come with a missing roof and a lowered windshield, the Spider’s interior is identical to the standard car. Although Ferrari offered several upholstery colors for the Testarossa, Agnelli opted for an all-black cockpit. Much like any other Testarossa from the 1980s, the Spider had both the dashboard and the door panels wrapped in leather, while the seats were designed to provide not only later support during tight cornering, but improved comfort as well.
On the other hand, because the Spider needed a soft-top, Agnelli’s car lost the luggage space behind the seats, which was modified as to house the folding canvas roof. All told, probably Agnelli had no use for the bespoke, optional Schedoni luggage that was specifically tailored for shelf behind the seats.
Under the hood, the Spider was identical to the Testarossa coupe, meaning it had the same 4.9-liter, flat-12 engine. An evolution of the powerplant found in the Berlinetta Boxer, the mill had 48 valves, dry-sump lubrication, and a compression ratio of 9.20:1. Being an European model, the Spider’s output was rated at 385 horsepower and 361 pound-feet of twist, delivered at 6,300 and 4,500 rpm respectively. The North American version, which was fitted with catalytic converters, had 375 horses at 5,750 rpm.
Due to the extra aerodynamic drag, the Spider likely hit 60 mph in 5.4 seconds and a top speed of 170 mph
The convertible retained the coupe’s five-speed manual transmission as well as the Testarossa’s initial rear suspension system, which consisted of independent, unequal-length wishbones, coil springs, and twin-telescopic shock absorbers.
Although there are no performance specs for the Testarossa Spider, the drop-top is likely only a tad slower than the standard model. The coupe needed around 5.2 seconds to hit 60 mph a standing start and could reach a top speed of 180 mph. Due to the extra aerodynamic drag, the Spider likely hit 60 mph in 5.4 seconds and a top speed of 170 mph, which was more than enough for 65-year-old Agnelli.
There’s no word as to how much Agnelli paid for the car (or if he actually did), but should the Spider had become a production model, it would’ve been significantly more expensive than the coupe, which retailed from $94,000 in the United States. According to Artcurial, the unique car is expected to fetch between $750,000 and $1 million when it goes under the hammer in February 2016, which would make it the most expensive Testarossa model ever auctioned. If it sells for at least $1 million, it will become the first Testarossa to do so. For reference, well-maintained, low mileage Testarossa coupes usually sell for $220,000 to $300,000.
We will update this section as soon as the Spider finds a new owner.
Also known as the SS Mardikian, the Countach Spider wasn’t a factory-built vehicle, but a bespoke model created by Al Mardikian, a Californian importer. Based on the LP400, the first version of the Countach produced between 1974 and 1978, the Spider was commissioned by British rock star Rod Stewart. Using the same 375-horsepower V-12 engine as the standard model, the Countach Spider needed a little more than six seconds to hit 60 mph and a top speed that exceeded 180 mph. In 2011, the vehicle was listed for €450,000. Unlike the Testarossa Spider though, the Countach Spider isn’t exactly unique, as at least two more drop-tops created by Mardikian have been documented since the 1970s.
Find out more about the standard Lamborghini Countach here.
Although it’s one of coolest cars from the 1980s, the Testarossa has yet to become a very expensive Ferrari, with most well-maintained models changing owners for less than $300,000. This may have to do with the fact that Ferrari built more than 7,000 units in seven years, but it could also mean that the Testarossa doesn’t get the attention it deserves. While this is likely to change in a few years, as the Testarossa may be the next Ferrari to take a massive leap forward in appreciation, the unique Spider model could be the first model to fetch close to $1 million or even break that barrier in a few months. Though I’m not a big fan of its roofless design, I can see why it’s an important vehicle for Maranello and its history with special-order, bespoke models.