Celebrity Cars: Don Johnson (1989 Ferrari Testarossa)


Net Worth: $40 Million
Famous For: Miami Vice and Nash Bridges
MSRP: $150,000
Top Speed: 180 miles per hour
MPG: 11 combined city / highway

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Don Johnson is an actor, producer, director, singer, and songwriter who launched his career in Hollywood in the late 1960s. The Missouri native spent his early years honing his talents. He struggled to make a break in the industry before finally catching a huge break in 1989 when he was cast as James “Sonny” Crockett in Miami Vice. He earned a Golden Globe for his performance over the show’s five seasons and landed back on his feet in the 1990s when he was cast as the star of the cop series, Nash Bridges.

Building a name for himself as one of primetime television’s favorite cops, Johnson also ventured into singing, producing, and directing. These many business ventures earned him a fortune of $40 million, which he’s spent on his five children, including actors Jesse Johnson and Dakota Johnson, and his many ex-wives. Of course, he also likes to splurge on fancy cars including a 1989 Ferrari Testarossa. But, believe it or not, this Ferrari didn’t cost Johnson a cent! So, how did he snag such an incredible vehicle? Let’s take a look!

1989 Ferrari Testarossa Specs

Produced between 1984 and 1991, the Ferrari Testarossa was first in its class as a mid-engine sports car. The name itself held special meaning and honored the famed World Sportscar Champion—the 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa sports racing car. “Testa Rossa” literally means “redhead” in Italian and mirrored the red-painted cam covers on both the 1957 Ferrari 250 and the 1989 Ferrari Testarossa.

Beyond its name, the two-door coupe was first debuted at the 1984 Paris Auto Show with several options available with a rear-mounted five-speed manual transmission. The engine was rear-mounted to keep the car’s center of gravity in the middle of the car to improve drivability, cornering, and stability. The engine was a 4.9-liter flat-12 with four-valve cylinders that produced 390 horsepower and 361 foot-pound of torque. This pushed the car to the limit allowing it to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.2 seconds flat. The car reached an impressive top speed of 180 miles per hour.

Offering outstanding speed and getting 11 miles per gallon in both the city and on the highway, the 1989 Ferrari Testarossa was well received by the public. “The car was designed and built to cash in on an image,” one critic said of the car that actor Don Johnson drove on Miami Vice. “And since cashing in was what the Eighties were all about, it was the perfect vehicle for its time. The saving grace was, it was also a damn good automobile.” 

The Ferrari Testarossa graced the cover of Road & Track magazine nine times in five years and attracted many famous celebrities. Some of the most famous Testarossa owners of the time included Elton John, Mike Tyson, Michael Jordan, Rod Stewart, and Don Johnson. So, how did Johnson get his Testarossa free of charge?

Johnson’s 1989 Ferrari Testarossa

Ferrari owner Enzo Ferrari was a huge fan of Miami Vice in the 1980s but he wasn’t thrilled that the show’s star—Don Johnson—drove a Black Daytona Spyder replica on the show. Enzo sent the production two black 1986 Ferrari Testarossas, both of which were repainted white to ensure the cars could be seen at night. That was the only change the production crew made before Johnson hopped into the driver’s seat to solve crimes as Sonny Crockett on the hit show.

With Enzo finally content that his favorite television star was representing Ferrari, he sent Johnson a gift of thanks—a custom-made 1989 Ferrari Testarossa. The model featured a 4.9-liter 12-cylinder engine and a five-speed transmission with a rare color combination of silver exterior paint with a gray interior. Now that’s one heck of a gift!

Having settled down in Miami, Florida to film Miami Vice, Johnson drove the car around Miami for years before parting with the Ferrari and several other cars in his garage. In 2002, he sold six vehicles including a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda and a 1949 Ford truck at a car auction to “streamline” his life, or so he said. In 2003, he sold the Ferrari to a collector in Scottsdale, Arizona. Two years later, the vehicle was sold to a third owner in Maryland where it has resided ever since. With each owner, it has been well maintained with regular maintenance and, as of 2014, only boasted 15,300 miles. It is 100 percent stock and includes the original tool kit and accessories as well as one heck of an owner’s log after being driven around by Miami Vice star Don Johnson for much of his early career.

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