This retro “MotorWeek” episode is peak ’80s Ferrari
A certain white Testarossa was enjoying serious screen time in the late ’80s thanks to Miami Vice, and nothing on four wheels was more desirable in 1989 than a Ferrari. That’s why Motorweek, America’s prime-time car show, dedicated an entire episode in 1989 to showing viewers what Enzo left behind and what Maranello had in store for the 1990s.
When MotorWeek visited Ferrari’s proving grounds in Maranello, “television’s automotive magazine” arrived only a few months past Enzo Ferrari’s death. The last product approved by Enzo, the mighty F40, was already in production, but at this point America still had to wait to get Ferrari’s anniversary specials. And though MotorWeek recounts that “American computers drove sophisticated Italian machine tools for engine milling” in Ferrari’s factory, the alloy engine blocks themselves were still hand-cast the same way as they were in 1947. Piero Ferrari, Enzo’s son, remained in charge of passenger-car production, but upon il Commendatore’s passing, the first action of parent company Fiat was to raise its stake in Ferrari to 90 percent, up from the previous 50.
While local Fiat Ritmo drivers got blown away by passing F40 prototypes, Ferrari’s lesser models were far removed from the cutting edge of composite technologies. In fact, in 1988, the workers in Maranello were either elbow-deep in the tubular chassis of an F40, or trying to hammer 328s, Mondials, 412s, or Testarossas more or less into the shapes Pininfarina suggested (take “hammering” literally, according to the episode).
However, the 348, the 328’s successor, was on the cusp of reaching production in the following year. This car would be powered by a naturally-aspirated 3.4-liter version of the same quad-cam, 32-valve V-8 that provided the F40 with 471 horsepower in twin-turbo form.
When it came to Ferrari’s race car for the road, which was available from the factory exclusively in red, Ferrari allocated North America approximately 180 F40s in 1989, with a suggested retail price of $260,000. However, all cars were sold in advance, so once those slightly-modified, U.S-spec cars reached U.S. shores, the stickers only went north of that original figure.
We return to Ferrari’s backyard, however. Instead of the later cars’ adjustable shocks, the prototype F40 MotorWeek drove was such a lightweight example that came with the early cars’ Lexan slide windows and was also missing its inner carbon-fiber door trim—and who knows what else.
After directing your attention to Ferrari-themed restaurants that are no longer open in 2019, MotorWeek’s half-hour Ferrari special finishes with some consumer advice on how to buy a used Prancing Horse and maintain it during extensive storage. There’s also a few of MotorWeek’s tips on which gems to look out for at Ferrari meetings: examples include a 250 Lusso and the Cannonball Daytona Brock Yates and Dan Gurney used for their successful cross-country run in 1972.
So sit back end enjoy as John Davis brings Ferrari’s magic to you, straight from the late ’80s: