Driven: the child-friendly Ferrari Testa Rossa J

Driven: the child-friendly Ferrari Testa Rossa J

If you are a burly bloke of a certain age, you’re going to look silly getting in and ridiculous once installed, but this car wasn’t built for you so stop complaining. What is surprising is that the Testa Rossa J will accommodate all 6ft 3in of me, and in reasonable comfort. Not having asocking great V12 where my feet want to be undoubtedly helps. They are all left-hand drive.

You look down and goggle at the gauges, for they are same in design as those of an original TR, right down to their spidery fonts. They have, of course, been repurposed, oil and water temperature now showing battery and motor temperature. 

There are other concessions to the modern world. I don’t, for instance, recall seeing a manettino controller on a 1957 Testa Rossa. It has four modes – Novice, Comfort, Sort, Race – offering a range of top speeds from under 12mph to what Ferrari coyly refers to as ‘over 60kmh’, whichis 37mph. Actually I think it’s good for around 50mph, with a range of around 60 miles before you need to swap your batteries over. And considering the car can only be used on private property, that’s probably both fast and far enough. 

It weighs 250kg, at least until I get in and increase the all-up weight of the car by over a third. You turn an authentic-looking knob to the right, press the accelerator pedal (from an F8 Tributo) and you’re rolling. 

The track at Bicester Heritage could not be better suited to the car, it being short, tight and, for today, damp. In this environment, the performance is perfectly pleasant. The car rides quite stiffly on its period Pirelli Cinturato CN54s (as supplied new to the Fiat 500 in the ’50s) and there is the odd jolt through the spaceframe, which is authentic to the way cars of this construction behaved back then.