In the autumn of 1994 the F512 M, the new version of the 512, was presented (M stands for ‘modificata’ or modified). Radical improvements were made to the whole car: the power/weight ratio was improved as was the styling, while still keeping the original Pininfarina basic design.
Aerodynamic efficiency was boosted with the installation of new faired-in headlights. The cabin was even more elegant, with improved ergonomics, and the engine was subjected to a number of major modifications to increase its overall performance.
The F512 M was the replacement for the 512 TR, and was presented at the Paris Salon in the autumn of 1994. The new model was born at a time when it was decided to use an “F” (for Ferrari) prefix to the model number, which as with the 512 TR referred to the 5 litre engine capacity and number of cylinders.
The F512M was the most radical overhaul that the Testarossa series received during its production period, and also the one with the shortest lifespan, and lowest numbers produced. Its production period only ran into early 1996, with 501 examples produced in the chassis number range 99376 to 105516, before it gave way to its front engine successor, the 550 Maranello.
Thus it was not only the most highly developed of the series, but also the rarest. It was also the last in the mid engine flat 12 cylinder engine production car range, that had started two and a half decades earlier with the presentation by Pininfarina of the 365 GT4/BB concept, at the 1971 Turin Salon.
Once again, as with the 512 TR in relation to the Testarossa, the main external visual differences were to the nose and tail treatment, together with a change of road wheel design. Internally there were some small visual changes, like the steering wheel design, alloy knob to the gear lever, adjustable aluminium foot pedals, a more refined air conditioning system, trim details and optional sports seats.
Mechanically there were further changes to the engine, which boosted power and provided increased performance, whilst the suspension gained gas filled shock absorbers, and the braking system was upgraded to incorporate a Bosch ABS anti skid system.
As with the previous models in the series the bodies were mounted on a 2550mm wheelbase chassis, that carried factory type reference F 110 HB, and which was of virtually identical construction to that of the earlier models.
All chassis numbers were in the continuous number sequence, with various world market models produced in either left or right hand drive form.
The new nose treatment bore a strong family resemblance to that of the 355 model introduced earlier in the year, and the 456 GT 2+2 model.
The shape of the dummy grille bearing a chrome plated “Cavallino Rampante” reflected those of its cousins, with similar shaped side/turn indicator lights either side, below which were small circular high intensity driving lights and brake cooling inlets.
Perhaps the most radical change to the frontal aspect was the deletion of the twin retractable headlight units in the leading edge of the front lid, and the provision of fixed homofocal units under glass covers to replace them.
The front lid also had a pair of small NACA ducts close to the trailing edge to feed air to the revised air conditioning system. At the rear, the full width satin black louvre grille over the light units was of reduced dimensions, and new surface mounted twin circular light units were mounted either side of it.
Another retro touch that was a throwback to the company’s styling history.
The 512 TR engine lid had featured the raised section and the louvres painted satin black, but on the F512M the complete lid was body colour, and the Testarossa badge disappeared from the raised section.
An F512M badge graced the rear lip of the engine cover, with a Ferrari script badge on its upper rear face.
The new alloy road wheels were quite an aerodynamically vaned interpretation of the traditional Ferrari five spoke “star” design, which featured split rims.
The front ones were 8J x 18″ diameter and the rear ones 10.5J x 18″ diameter, covering ventilated and cross drilled brake discs actuated by four piston callipers, with separate front and rear hydraulic circuits, ABS and servo assistance.
The curved spoke design, as fitted to the 512 TR, were available as an option, for those who found the new design to radical.
The four valves per cylinder, flat twelve, dry sump engine was a further upgrading of the version used in the 512 TR, maintaining the same cubic capacity of 4943cc, with an 82mm x 78mm bore and stroke, and factory type reference number 113 G.
The Bosch Motronic 2.7 combined fuel injection/ignition engine management system remained. However, changes were effected to the crankshaft, which was lightened, and titanium alloy connecting rods were employed coupled to new pistons, that increased the compression ratio from 10:1 to 10.4:1.
These changes together with a new stainless steel low back pressure exhaust system increased the power output from the claimed 428bhp of the 512 TR to 440bhp @ rpm for the F512M.
The increased power once again provided improved acceleration over its predecessor, a premium being placed on this aspect of performance and the safer braking capabilities of the ABS system, as the top speed remained virtually unchanged.