The Testarossa and the state trooper

Let’s go through the gears one time, he said, and so we did

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testarossa

Needless to say, I was worried when I pulled into my driveway and the state trooper pulled in next to me, lights on but no siren. I thought I’d been careful driving home from the office in the Ferrari Testarossa, but chances are I had, indeed, exceeded the posted speed limit at one point or another — or another or another.

The Testarossa was a press-fleet test car that resided during the day in our parking lot at AutoWeek, and that those of us on staff who had clean driving records got to take home for a night. 

I did and I did, only to have a state trooper pull in next to me. 

Fortunately, however, the officer of law enforcement lived in my neighborhood, happened to be driving to his home as I was, saw the low, wide and red sports car as I wound my way through the subdivision, and followed me at a distance.

Before I could get out of the car or ask what was happening, he had climbed into the front passenger’s seat in full trooper uniform, looked at me and announced, “We’re going through the gears one time.”

Talk about carte blanche!

I pulled into my driveway, and right behind me came a state trooper in his patrol car | Larry Edsall photos

My first impression of the Testarossa, this was the 1988-89 version, not the original 250 “red head” of the 1950s nor the 512 TR of the early 1990s. The car was low and oh-so-wide with those strakes ahead of its rear wheels guiding cooling air toward the flat 12-cylinder engine that sat behind the cockpit.

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The engine displaced only 302cid but generated 380 horsepower. Its position behind the cockpit allowed for a very low nose and a wonderful view out the windshield as you penetrated the world ahead. That horsepower and more than 350 pound-feet of torque traveled a very short distance to the wide rear tires through a 5-speed manual gearbox.

Driving the car, and only recently leaving my job as a newspaper sports editor to join the car magazine staff, I remember thinking, “This must be how Walter Payton felt when he was running down the football field, outmaneuvering and then pulling away from defenders with historic power and speed.”

You can open up a car this way, or with your right foot
The red-headed power plant

I got to experience the Testarossa’s power and speed with a uniformed state trooper sitting shotgun. 

Not too far from the subdivision was a paved road that ran through woods occupied only at the north end by a couple of light industrial-type businesses. There were no houses along the road, the only occupants were deer, and on this day, we saw none as we went through the gears, turned around and went through them again, and again.

At some point, we headed for home. No harm, no foul — and no ticket — but big smiles. 

A couple of youngsters with big dreams


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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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