Still searching for the ultimate Christmas gift? Instead of buying your kids 2021’s must-have piece of plastic – a remote control BatBot, my 10-year-old tells me – how about a three-quarter-scale electric Ferrari Testa Rossa?
Just imagine the fun you (sorry, they) could have on Christmas morning. Batteries are included, as you’d hope for £95,000.
Granted, the Testa Rossa J (for ‘Junior’) isn’t cheap, but one of the 34 full-size original cars, built between 1957 and 1961, could set you back £30 million. And this is a genuine Ferrari, officially endorsed by Maranello.
“Ferrari was on board with the idea straight away,” explains Ben Hedley, founder of The Little Car Company. “We also proposed making a 250 SWB California Spyder or P4, but the Testa Rossa was a clear favourite. They allowed us to scan the technical drawings, so the chassis is identical.”
Based at Bicester Heritage, a former RAF base near Oxford, The Little Car Company makes ‘little’ versions of motoring icons. Projects so far include the Bugatti Baby II (based on the 1924 Type 35) and Aston Martin DB5 Junior – newly available in No Time To Die spec, with rotating mini-guns, digital number plates and a push-button smokescreen.
A road-legal replica of the Tamiya Wild One RC buggy is in development, too.
Despite their playful side, Hedley insists these aren’t toys: “We take classic cars that are now too valuable to drive, then shrink them down 25 percent”.
For the Testa Rossa J, that also means batteries and a 12kW electric motor: good for a 50mph top speed and fully-charged range of 56 miles. “Raffaele di Simone [Ferrari’s official test-driver] took the car out and came back smiling,” he says, as I clamber awkwardly aboard.
Here’s the production Testa Rossa J from the Little Car Company. Nine official Ferrari liveries are available – this one replicates car no. 0724. Optional 12-inch wheels are genuine Borrani wires. pic.twitter.com/eWmzfYoeG6
The hand-beaten aluminium body of my Testa Rossa is finished in authentic Ferrari Rosso Corsa. The chassis plate and prancing horse badges are also pukka Ferrari parts, while the drilled pedals come from a 488 Pista.
Other spec highlights include a Nardi steering wheel, Bilstein coilover suspension, Brembo brakes (sourced from a Ducati Diavel motorbike), and Borrani wire wheels with Pirelli tyres.
A modern Ferrari-style manettino on the dashboard offers four drive modes. Novice is for smaller children and permits just 1kW of power, with a key fob kill-switch for parents. Mind the Christmas tree! Comfort allows speeds up to 25mph (into the garden with you), while Sport serves up the full 12kW (save it for the country estate).
There’s also a Race mode, which offers balance of performance settings for miniature motorsport. The Little Car Company hopes to organise Testa Rossa J races alongside Ferrari’s FXX track days.
My drive takes place on the Bicester Airfield circuit and, after a few exploratory laps, I’m straight into Sport mode. With just 250kg to shift and the instant torque of an electric motor, the Ferrari catapults out of corners, easily reaching its maximum speed on the main straight.
There are no gears to shift, so you can left-foot brake and concentrate on clipping each apex. All that’s missing is the visceral roar of a Colombo V12.
Hedley says the weight distribution of the Testa Rossa J is similar to the real thing – and while I don’t have a near-priceless classic car for comparison, it does feel supple and neatly balanced.
Indeed, on a slightly damp track, the car is easily provoked into four-wheel drifts, my hands juggling the wood-rimmed wheel as I daydream about Mike Hawthorn on the 1958 Targa Florio.
The Testa Rossa J is brilliant fun and a perfect gift for the petrolhead who has everything. That said, come Christmas morning, Thomas is far more likely to unwrap a BatBot than a Ferrari. Sorry son, maybe next year.
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