A Night In Paris With The Only Real Ferrari Testarossa Spider
Photography by Tania Feghali
It was a rainy, freezing night, and the city looked dramatic and beautiful; one of those Parisian nights that reminds you of a Miles Davis or John Coltrane song, imagining Jeanne Moreau walking melancholically through the streets.
We met with Matthieu and the crew at Artcurial’s head office—at 7 Rond-Point des Champs-Élysées. A Ferrari Daytona was waiting there, its grey body melting under the rain, on Artcurial’s porch.
But where was the one-of-one Ferrari Testarossa Spider built for Gianni Agnelli that I came here to see? The elusive car would be more elusive, still: it was in a secured parking lot, along with the Ferrari 335 S Spider.
Outside, under the raindrops, I felt the cat-like wink of the Testarossa’s pop-up headlights pointing out of the parking. My initial impression of this car is how she flashes into and out of darkness with her feline lines and blinking eyes.
The first thing you notice of the car is the thin blue line that underlines the whole chromed silver body. The second thing you notice is the features of the back, so graphic and plastic with its perspective lines to the horizon. The typical Testarossa claws on the side now look very wild. The third thing that catches your eye is its unique personalized plate: T0 00000G.
As we emerged onto the narrow streets, I was passenger in the Daytona just behind the Spider, and I did feel that unique roar, and the sinuous way she just had to disappear at the end of the Alma Tunnel. You just see a glimpse of red lights drawing a curve…and then she vanishes.
We finally arrive at the bridge made famous in Marlon Brando’s Last Tango in Paris. I love this place. The trains pass over your head every few minutes and all the neon lights and the trains shadows melt on the wet asphalt. There is a 1959 Facel Vega Excellence with us as well that looks absolutely stunning here.
Apart from being the only Spider officially made, it’s also the only Testarossa in history to have a flat-12 engine attached to a Valeo automatic box that allows (by pushing one button on the dashboard) to retract the clutch plate and drive only with the gear lever: this characteristic was introduced as Agnelli had an accident when very young and lived with a handicap on his left leg.
You may know that the car is silver because the Periodic Table’s initials for the element, Ag, match those of Gianni Agnelli. But you probably don’t know that this car’s rollover system is very wittingly conceived: there is a special button on the dashboard (not a normal one, mind you) for the front-hinged tonneau cover to raise, and the fabric roof to unfurl forward.
Even though we’re in Paris, I can say that back deck is incredible, and made with dozens of louvres; once you’re tired of looking at those, you may spot the small aerodynamic piece on the windshield that redirects wind gusts when you’re driving fast.
And when you’re in Agnelli’s Testarossa Spider, what else are you supposed to do but outrun everyone else?
Special thanks to Artcurial Motorcars for letting us tag along on its video shoot for one of its featured Rétromobile lots, which will be offered for sale on Feb. 5.