Is the F512 M the most underrated Ferrari?

Whether you love its looks or loathe them, the flat-12 F512 M earned its place in the history books

By Cam Tait / Tuesday, 27 September 2022 / Loading comments

The Ferrari F512 M might just be the most polarising production car to come out of Maranello. (Well, until the Purosangue came along, of course.) When the covers came off the revamped Testarossa at the 1994 Paris Motor Show, people were instantly taken aback by the lack of pop-up headlights, the removal of the body-wide strakes at the rear and those canted five-spoke wheels. 

A shame, really, because it clouded the idea that the F512 M played an important role in the Ferrari story. Not only was this the last chapter in the iconic Testarossa lineage, but it would also prove to be the final setting for Ferrari’s flat-12 engine in a production car. To send off the Testarossa in style, Ferrari introduced a raft of updates for the F512 M – or ‘Modificata’. On the engine side, the 4.9-litre flat-12 was fitted with titanium con rods, forged aluminium pistons and a new crankshaft, bringing the total output up to 440hp – 13hp more than its 512 TR predecessor. Of course, that was all managed exclusively through a five-speed (gated) manual, with a 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds possible if you got your shifts right. That’s impressive by today’s standards, let alone in the mid-1990s. 

The, er, controversial redesign was also functional. Well, as functional as you can make a giant, two-metre-wide wedge. When in use, the new fixed headlights were more aerodynamically efficient than the old pop-up lights, and those cantered 18-inch wheels are both lighter and, allegedly, aided brake cooling. Those aforementioned engine upgrades also played a part in reducing weight, as did a fruity stainless steel exhaust system. Throw in a few minor interior tweaks and the F512 M was a significant step forward from its predecessors, yet retained that distinctly Testarossa silhouette – so long as you only look at it from the side. 

Whereas the Testarossa and 512 TR sold in the thousands, the F512 M was limited to just 501 examples. And given that there have only been four mid-engine, twelve-cylinder flagships (F50, Enzo, LaFerrari and Daytona SP3) since the F512 M, it’s a wonder that values have yet to breach the seven-figure mark. Perhaps it’s the car’s grand tourer reputation, or that people have yet to come around to its cross-era design. Regardless, when this particular example – one of just 41 UK cars – appeared in the classifieds, we decided to call in at DK Engineering to see if the F512 M really qualifies as one of the most underrated cars ever to come out of Maranello.

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