The Story Behind The Miami Vice Ferrari Testarossa

The Story Behind The Miami Vice Ferrari Testarossa

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The iconic ‘cocaine white’ Ferrari Testarossa in Miami Vice wasn’t the crew’s first choice for their hit 1980s TV show. Here’s how they ended up with the flat-12 poster car.

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An American Ferrari

Miami Vice ran for five seasons from September 1984 until January 1990. During the first two seasons, the show featured a replica 1972 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 built on the chassis of a Chevrolet Corvette (C3). Speciality car manufacturer McBurnie Coachcraft fitted the American sports car with Ferrari-shaped body panels.

It made a reappearance in the third season alongside a white Ferrari Testarossa, the latter of which stayed on for seasons four and five. But why? The reason behind the switch is quite interesting.

Ferrari’s Lawsuit

Yes, you read that right. Ferrari filed a lawsuit against the show’s crew, Coachcraft and others to stop production. Why? Trademark infringement. Ferrari considered using and selling replicas to be an infringement on its brand name and creative IP (intellectual property). During the first episode of the third season, the crew sinned again by blowing up an empty Daytona body shell during an action sequence.

Ferrari 365 GTS4 Daytona Spider Miami Vice

As a solution to the lawsuit, Ferrari and the production crew collaborated on an interesting way to keep the marque front and centre. Ferrari actually donated two then-new Testarossa Monospecchios painted black with beige leather interiors for use on the program, but Miami Vice producer Michael Mann requested that the cars to be repainted white so they would be more visible during the show’s many night scenes.

The team still used a fiberglass replica based on a De Tomaso Pantera for stunt shots. This alternate car was built by Carl Robert, who also worked on the Daytona replicas. He decided to use the 1972 Pantera because it had the same wheelbase as the Testarossa. And because the show quickly elevated the new Testarossa to icon status, Ferrari backed down from their issues with the replica stunt cars.


When the show ended in 1990, both cars went into retirement until one was brought to Ferrari Fort Lauderdale (Florida, USA) in 2015. Here, it received a Ferrari Classiche certification and an engine-out service valued at $8,000.

Ferrari Testarossa Miami Vice

The car was put up for sale through Barrett-Jackson Auction Company in 2017. This beautifully restored Testarossa featured a beige leather interior and had luxurious options such as power windows, locks and seats, cruise control and air-conditioning.

It was expected to auction for $1.5 and $1.75 million sadly only brought a top bid of $151,800. Would you agree that the Miami Vice Testarossa is the most iconic Ferrari to appear on the big screen?

Written by Max Lammers.


  • Ronald Martinez

    I will like to buy The iconic ‘ white’ Ferrari Testarossa in Miami Vice when l will own my family company.

  • adude

    Barrett-Jackson maybe should have done better by hauling the car back in EU for auction in London or Milan. It’s very likely that some automotive museum would have placed the higher bid in order for everyone to profit. Ferrari itself as a company may have been interested in buying the car back for complete restoration. Sometimes it’s incredible how easily iconic stuff is ditched just like rubbish in northern America. Also iconic buildings, think of Vegas: each time an iconic casino on the strip is demolished an Italian dies of ocd.
    Certain cars and buildings, just like natural wonders, are part of world’s culture, I strongly believe that a proper movie museum worth of the name should be built in west Hollywood and all of the iconic original movie cars (Bttf deloreans, the A-Team utility van, Hardcastle and McCormick’s car, batmobiles, 5th element’s prop cars, the list is really endless) should all be purchased, restored and then exposed there rather than rotting in open air at Universal Studios backlot tour. That’s a shame, really.

  • Simon M

    I would buy this Testarossa immediately for $150’000

  • E.

    Perhaps i prefer the Magnum P.I. 208 Gts but i am not sure…same iconic level

  • Ronaldo Vogel

    Com certeza é a Ferrari mais conhecida das telas!!

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