Monterey 2024

1993 Ferrari 512 TR Spyder by Pininfarina

United States | Monterey, California

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Chassis No.
ZFFLA40C000097310
Engine No.
35505
Gearbox No.
146785
  • One of only two 512 TR conversions commissioned from Pininfarina by Ferrari, intended for the Royal Family of Brunei
  • The sole example finished in this stunning “triple blue” color combination
  • Powered by its matching-numbers 4.9-liter flat-12 engine and five-speed gearbox
  • Currently indicates fewer than 575 km (~360 miles) at time of cataloguing
  • Recently treated to $65,000 of cosmetic recommissioning by the eight-time Pebble Beach Concours-winning team at RM Auto Restoration; refinished in its original color and fitted with a new convertible top
Addendum: Please note that an import duty of 2.5% of the purchase price is payable on this lot if the buyer is a resident of the United States.

If asked to close your eyes and conjure the image of an 1980s Maranello model, your mind is likely to produce a visage of side-straked majesty in the form of a Ferrari Testarossa. It is a model intrinsically wedded to the decade of its introduction. Everyone from teenagers lusting over bedroom-wall posters, to captains of industry catching a glimpse of their reflection in glass-fronted offices—none could help fawning over this most Ferrari of Ferraris.

Arguably Ferrari’s hit car of the 1980s, the Testarossa was approaching its sixth year of production in 1990, and Maranello’s design team sought to update the iconic model for the coming decade. Returning to numeric nomenclature, its successor was dubbed the Ferrari 512 TR, with “5” representing the cubic capacity of the engine, “12” the number of cylinders, and “TR” standing for Testarossa. The 512 TR shared many similarities with its predecessor, but it was expertly tweaked by Ferrari both in terms of styling and engineering.

The marketing power of its 1980s dream machine had not diminished just because the decade rolled over, either. The initial design simply needed a few minor nips and tucks to keep it cutting edge. The most recognizable 512 TR addition was its front bumper, while other styling changes included a revised set of rear lights and new 18-inch alloy wheels. Numerous interior updates were needed to pass over the 1980s aesthetic baton to the 1990s, but the 512 TR’s most significant improvements were carried out upon its chassis and mechanicals.

The new model’s chassis was revised to allow both engine and transmission to sit 30 millimeters lower, improving the car’s center of gravity. While the displacement of the 512 TR’s inherited flat-12-cylinder engine remained the same as the Testarossa’s at 4,943 cubic centimeters, its power had been increased—due to a higher compression ratio, revised porting and inlets, bigger valves, as well as new Bosch Motronic M2.7 management—to a highly respectable 428 brake horsepower.

But perhaps the most warmly received of the 512 TR’s updates were those of its transmission—a prolonged complaint about the Testarossa—which was eased with a new single-plate clutch, sliding ball bearings, and better angle for the gearshift knob.

Yet despite all the improvements fitted to the iconic Testarossa model, some of Ferrari’s most discerning clients still required something more exclusive than the standard 512 TR.

‘APERTA, DUE POSTI, PER I REALI’

Given the right level of status—and the resources to back it up—Ferrari has always been willing to execute one-off coachbuilt commissions exclusively for its most important clients. This proud tradition goes back to the marque’s earliest days partnering with some of Italy’s finest carrozzerie and continues today with the Portfolio Coachbuilding Program at Ferrari’s Design Center. Behind doors which even the most astute of collectors may struggle to unlock, unique models considered too wild for mainstream manufacture are created; bespoke Ferrari projects straight from the imagination are brought to life.

But soaring high above even this rarified stratum of Ferrari VIPs exists the legendary domain of Brunei’s Royal Family, who commissioned not one or two custom Ferrari chassis, but multiple series of coachbuilt Ferrari models throughout the 1980s and 1990s. This outstanding 512 TR Spyder offered here is an exemplary specimen from one such series intended for Ferrari’s so-called “First Family.”

Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Alfred Tan, the proprietor of Singapore’s Hong Seh Motors, handled orders and delivery of Ferraris for the Brunei Royal Family as the marque’s sole distributorship in Southeast Asia. Tan communicated specific orders directly to Maranello, and from Maranello to Grugliasco, where Pininfarina’s Special Projects Team turned dream into reality. According to Paolo Garella, the former Pininfarina Special Projects Manager, Pininfarina began taking orders from Brunei directly starting in 1994, making the 512 TR Spyder the last model commissioned through Hong Seh Motors.

Having previously completed a series of Testarossa Spyders for Brunei, a new 512 TR-based series seemed only a natural progression. Correspondence between Tan and Ferrari’s Maurizio Parlato (on file) confirms as much, and while Ferrari produced a scant 88 right-hand drive 512 TRs between 1992 and 1994, just two of them were forwarded to Pininfarina during the same period for conversion to the coachbuilt “aperta” design of an open-topped Spyder. To this end, Garella notes that the orders for these two 512 TR Spyders were indeed placed through Ferrari by Alfred Tan, and Ferrari then sent reinforced chassis to Pininfarina’s Special Projects team to finish the aperta conversion. Once the body conversion had been completed, these two special Spyder conversions were then shipped back to Ferrari in Maranello to fit the mechanical parts and interior tailoring.

An accompanying Ferrari Certificate of Origin and Production Data sheet confirms that this 512 Spyder was delivered new to Hong Seh Motors during June 1993 and clothed in the bespoke “triple blue” color combination of Blu Cobalto over Blu Scuro Connolly leather with matching carpets and power-operated soft top. It is the only such 512 TR Spyder executed in this color combination.

Interestingly, neither right-hand drive 512 TR Spyder was ever delivered to Brunei’s famous garages for unknown reasons, with this example retained by Alfred Tan in Singapore for his personal collection. In January 1997, Tan exhibited this 512 TR Spyder at Ferrari’s 50th Anniversary celebrations in Rome, and at that time the Scuderia Ferrari driver Gianni Morbidelli joined Tan’s son, Edward, in the car during their parade through the city.

Rarely displayed elsewhere during Tan’s 30 years of ownership, in November 2023 this special Pininfarina Spyder was purchased by the consignor and immediately submitted to more than $65,000 of cosmetic recommissioning by RM Auto Restorations. Invoices on file illustrate more than 500 man-hours were spent to bring this barely enjoyed coachbuilt Ferrari back to a perfect presentation. Notable line items include a full refinishing in its original Blu Cobalto paint, new Blu Scuro carpets, and new Blu Scuro power-operated soft top.

As presented today, this 512 TR Spyder indicates fewer than 575 kilometers (~360 miles) at cataloguing time. Chassis 97310 arguably presents the only opportunity to own a special limited-production aperta variant of the Ferrari 512 TR, with only two ordered by the Ferrari factory and this car’s sister chassis not currently available.

Long owned and cared-for by the man who helped create such a rare beauty, this coachbuilt Blu Cobalto example would be the centerpiece of any aficionado’s collection, sure to draw attention wherever it goes, be it concours lawns or open roads.