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Car Tales: Ferrari Testarossa vs Ferrari 599 GTB

A Gran Turismo is like Puccini's Aria “Nessun Dorma from the famous Turandot Opera. Grace and power expressed with elegance and a well thought mix of harmony and intensity. An ensemble of contrasts, where melody and force are blended together in an exhilarating union.

Obviously, the “Ferrari - Nessun Dorma” is a classic combo, the definition of what makes a masterpiece: the capability of always giving strong emotions, in every moment. It is not by chance that the Frecce Tricolori use this Aria as background music of their closing maneuver, the “Alona”. Driving a GT is like winning: watching the world from above and knowing you can dominate it.

In Italy, the word Gran Turismo equals to the great modenese cars and Ferrari is the quintessential brand, a symbol of a land of entrepeneurs and moved by a never-ending search for beauty.

For more than 70 years, true object of desire have come out from the gates of Via dell'Abetone Inferiore 4 in Maranello, which have always been regarded as style icons.

The Testarossa and the 599 GTB have been, in the last 40 years, two cars that have been perfectly capable to incarnate the soul of the Prancing Horse: tiptoe power. Both represent a never-ending search for absolute beauty, proportions and speed. They're both powered by V12 engines, the symbol of engine excellence.

They're both the brainchild of their respective eras: the Testarossa is the incarnation of the 80ies, an extreme design that found its maximum expression in the iconic side-grilles; the 599 offers the same classic proportions of the early front-engined “berlinette” of the 50ies and 60ies, reinterpreted for the new millennium.

They're radically different between each other, yet they both evoke the glorious past of the Brand: Testarossa was the name given to the powerful 250 prototypes that were racing in the World Sportscar Championship, while “GTB” is the name associated with many GT of the past.

The Testarossa is a car which is more focused on comfort rather than pure track performance. It's comfortable and still adequately fast for our times, it was the excellent choice for those who wanted to experience F1 technology in almost complete relaxation. An heir to the 3 litre 180° V12 used in the cars of the Scuderia Ferrari in the 1970ies, the engine of this icon is a pure expression of power and flexibility. Savouring the mechanical perfection of such a motorcar, without any controls and automatic garboxes is a sheer delight. Gearchanges are accopanied by a pleasurable metallic “click-click” of the open-gate shifter, and even if it doesn't have a particularly sharp handling, between the bends you always have the sensation of being glued to the ground. The engine changes its sound as you progress through the rev-range: it's a deep and baritone growl which evolves into a very elegant high-pitched note. It's pure, unfiltered driving pleasure. A true satisfaction in these times.

On the other hand, the 599 is like the Aria “Chi il bel Sogno di Doretta” in Puccini's Rondine: it's a strong reminiscence of an old passion, in this case the one of the golden age of Ferrari, the 1950ies and 60ies. As Magda who remembers about her past love story, the 599 pays homage to Maranello's most beautiful era: GTB (Gran Turismo Berlinetta), like the famed 275 and 365 and “Fiorano” the racetrack where almost all F1 and road cars have been tested since the early 70ies. This is indeed a very strong remark to the great past of the Prancing Horse.

The 599, the heir to the much-loved 550/575 Maranello, has classic style elements like the horizontal front grille, air vents on the sides and bonnet and the back end is elegantly connected by two side pillars, which donate to the whole car a sensation of elegant dynamism.

Contrarily to the Testarossa, here you have the maximum of everything: comfort and supercar performance make the Fiorano a car that goes well beyond the idea of a normal Gran Turismo. The 5,999cc V12 engine, which derives from the the Enzo one, offers blistering quick acceleration, while the twin clutch transmission is capable of instantaneous gearchanges. The “Newstalgia” of the design of the 599 makes this car assume an even greater role in the panorama of 12 cylinder Ferraris. It's extremely fast, precise and usable without comprimises, almost daily. The sound of its engine seems a concert, a well directed orchestra of mechanical parts capable of producing great emotions.

The Testarossa and the 599 come from different eras and are different in every possible detail, yet they have the same father. Ferrari has always played the part of an all-round artist, capable of giving human warmth to the cold steel. Mid-front or mid-rear V12? This is not what matters the most: driving a Ferrari truly means enjoying the search for beauty in everything.


Words: Jacopo Villa, contributor
Photos & Video: Sajin Park
Cars: courtesy of


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