Blonde in the passenger seat, palm trees overhead, squeezing between Porsche 911s at 180mph… Ah yes, those were carefree school days. Playing OutRun at the arcades was a rite of passage for ’80s and ’90s kids, but few saved for the actual red Ferrari Testarossa convertible in the game. Partly because they’d spent the asking price in £1 coins some years before, but mainly because Ferrari produced only one Testarossa without a roof, and that was commissioned by Fiat boss Gianni Agnelli in 1986 – the year of OutRun’s release.
This wasn’t going to stop OutRun addict Scott Chivers, who drives an exact replica of… well, Scott drives a Testarossa that’s had its roof chopped, has never got past the grey primer stage of a respray and has a piece of wood – admittedly a piece of wood with Ferrari written on it – to prop a bonnet that opens on door hinges. But he’s got a damn sight closer than most players.
Scott bought his Testarossa online as a part-car/part-boxes deal and rather heroically sourced missing bits including the Testarossa’s wild side strakes (the stockbroker braces of ’80s supercars), then got it all re-assembled and running in his suburban double-garage. Scott assures us the one-time poster pin-up is road legal, and kindly allowed us to drive a few laps of Bracknell’s one-way system to demonstrate.
It’s a head-turner, alright. The 380bhp, flat-12 engine is joyously raucous (“Testarossas sound pants, so I fitted a sports exhaust,” shouts the not-particularly-blonde Scott from the passenger seat), the cabin is windy (there is no roof, and despite excellent visibility I see no palm trees in Bracknell) and you have to crank up the Magical Sound Shower soundtrack to drown occasional groans from the suspension and a decapitated body that’s strengthened by improvised box-section bracing.
Scott dubs his car Ratarossa – a portmanteau of RAT-look modified car scene, for Recycled Automotive Transport, and the venerated Testarossa name – and it is a breath of fresh air in an automotive world often prone to over-polishing.
This isn’t Scott’s first Ferrari. A 348 Spider eased him in during his mid-20s, and he has owned around 30 since, often cheaper left-hand-drive examples from Europe and the US, sometimes with faults that he gambles are a simple (ish) fix.
When we arrive at his house on a modern residential estate, there are two Ferraris outside, two more in his double garage. It’s here that Scott works on the cars, uploading his exploits to YouTube – a one-time hobby turned full-time career since he quit a city IT job. We’re not talking oil and plug changes: Scott was tackling a fault in his 360 Challenge Stradale’s automated manual transmission when we visited. “People see the badge and get scared but really they’re just cars, they’re not so hard to work on,” is his refreshing attitude.
Ratarossa has pushed Scott’s resourcefulness to a whole new level since he stumbled across it online. “I was looking for an engine part for another Testarossa in 2016, and spotted a three-year-old advert for this car in the US,” he explains.
It wasn’t one of the aftermarket conversions offered when Ferrari declined to produce a soft-top Testarossa. Rather a donor to make moulds for a Testarossa lookalike kit for the US-market Pontiac Fiero, according to the seller. Its roof was removed to create moulds, and thus a cut-price OutRun copy. But when Ferrari sent a cease and desist, someone found themselves with both business plan and Testarossa in tatters.
Laid up at the back of the seller’s garage, Ratarossa clearly terrified everyone else, but Scott reasoned that “the engine and gearbox were probably worth more than I paid, so why not?”. The total figure was £16,000, including all shipping and duties to the UK. That’s a £70k discount on the cheapest Testarossa advertised in Britain, but then that one doesn’t look like a child has hacked off its roof and daubed it Airfix grey.
The Ferrari hadn’t been driven for 20 years by the time a truck deposited it on Scott’s drive. He says: “It was a huge jigsaw but about 90 per cent of the parts were there, and it was actually fun working out where everything should go. I used my other Testarossa as a reference, the Ferrari workshop manuals are actually very good, and the ferrarichat forum was very helpful.”
The engine steadfastly refused to fire until Scott fitted two new fuel pumps for less than £100, then he re-connected a tangle of wiring, re-fitted the tatty tan interior, and sourced missing odds and ends for surprisingly little, including an original dash for £180. Finally, Ratarossa was ready to drive, if without a roof.
“I drove it to the Ferrari Challenge race at Silverstone and it rained, but at 70mph rain just passes straight over the windscreen,” laughs Scott, who was warmly welcomed by the concours crowd. “When I got there everyone wanted to know more. I could park next to the best of the best Testarossas and this would draw a larger crowd.”
People often ask how Scott will cosmetically tidy his Testarossa. He won’t. “The plan is to leave the interior and exterior as is, then have it absolutely perfect mechanically,” he reveals. His next tasks are removing the flat-12 to change the cambelts, and replacing the steering rack.
Going DIY will massively reduce expense, which is handy given the rack alone costs £1,000. But then OutRun gamers always did have to insert more coins to continue.
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