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The white 1986 Ferrari Testarossa driven by Don Johnson in Miami Vice goes on the block Aug. 15 in Monterey, Calif.
The Testarossa is powered by a 4.9-liter 390 horsepower flat-12 engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission and has been in storage since the series was canceled in 1989. The same car was offered for $1.75 million on eBay last year but didn’t sell.
In the show’s first two seasons, Johnson’s character, Sonny Crockett, drove a Ferrari Daytona Spyder replica built on a Corvette chassis.
“I would never beat up a real Ferrari Daytona in the grueling stunt work involved in filmmaking,” Miami Vice producer Michael Mann told The Hollywood Reporter. “That’s why we used the Corvette-based, fibreglas-bodied replica in Seasons 1 and 2.”
According to Mann, when Enzo Ferrari saw the show and the bogus Daytonas, he had his North American chief contact Mann with “a very inviting” proposition.
“I proposed that they let us use the new Testarossa and that I needed it in white to fit in with the Miami palette and that I needed two,” Mann recalled. “One was dedicated for dialogue scenes, the other for stunt work. They were pleased to do it.”
The Testarossas made their debut in Season 3 but there was the matter of switching out Sonny’s Daytona. One widely traveled version of events holds that Ferrari insisted that the Daytona replica be destroyed on screen as a condition of providing the Testarossas.
According to Mann, “Rather than the characters merely switching cars, I thought it would be dramatic to destroy the pseudo Daytona by blowing it up on camera in the story of an arms merchant demonstrating a rocket launcher.” In any event, the Daytona met its demise in the third-season premiere “When Irish Eyes are Crying,” and from then on Sonny drove only genuine Ferrari iron.
Unsurprisingly, Mann is a staunch Ferrari fan.
“Ferrari was and is unique. There is no other car manufacturing company quite like it anywhere in the world. My present to myself upon making Thief, my first feature film, in 1979, was buying a Euro spec 308GTB.”
And as Mann points out, “it was the cultural phenomenon that was Miami Vice in 1986 that presented the brand to a mass audience–as differentiated from autosport enthusiasts and cognoscenti.”
Aug.14: 4:22 p.m. Updated with Michael Mann’s recollections.
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