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What Makes a Car “Cool?” – Kazuki Ohashi’s 1989 Ferrari Testarossa

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What makes a car "cool?" It's a worthwhile question, but I'm rather confident it's one that doesn't have a precise answer. From style and prowess to performance and power, from concepts and ideas, to creative executions... every car we deem special is so because of its defining characteristics, both conceptual and real. A "cool" car is often more than the sum of its parts - it's an amalgam of the pieces which comprise it, and the ideas bestowed within it - be those concepts major or not. When I first saw Kazuki Ohashi's 1989 Ferrari Testarossa, it was pretty evident: it's a cool car.

That initial feeling, however, was met with internal conflict. I could clearly rationalize why I appreciated the Ferrari: to me, its a shining example of embracing style over every other aspect - even common sense, in a way. Kazuki's build may very easily be the execution of a rather nice vision, without regard to prestige, provenance, and performance. It could be the idea of "This will look good, and I will do it, even if goes against convention." And frankly, most important of all, the result looks good. Performance degradation and heresy aside, this Testarossa a real joy to look at.

On the other hand, however, I was met with the reactions of the car world at large. Kazuki's build spread like wildfire within minutes of hitting social media, and with it followed a blazing trail of comments, positive and negative. Present more often than not, though, was a permeating sense of pride from followers - pride that the car was upsetting others. For them, Kazuki's car was less about the car itself, and more about some made-up perceived value in "pissing off the haters."

From there, I questioned Kazuki's motives for the build: is it simply his take and his style put to work on an '80s Ferrari? Or is it fueled by a desire piss everyone off as a result of "ruining a Ferrari?" I bounced back and forth, before reaching the conclusion that for me, it didn't matter. I'd rather assume the former, and live in blissful ignorance.

It's easy to see why Kazuki's Testarossa has caused a stir. As Testarossa prices hover around $150,000, it's no cheap car. And while there are plenty of more expensive cars in our community, it is a member of the prancing horse family - perhaps the most heralded marque of them all. Emblazoned in bright red paint, it's as "Ferrari" as they come... and this one in particular happens to be laying flat on the ground. Air suspension gives the car practicality, and the 18/19" double-staggered wheels offer a perfectly OEM+ flair. Despite the good looks, it's quite opposite what most believe the supercoupe is meant to do. On the other hand, I'd rather see this than yet another Ferrari parked behind a garage door as a permanent fixture.

There's a valuable, yet tough to define difference between executing an idea that goes against the grain, with the inherent result of upsetting the community, and executing an idea because it upsets community. One has value as an expression, with a cause and effect - the other attempts to earn its merit on effect alone. While I speak for no one but myself, I feel there's absolutely no value in the latter. If one's sole intent is to push buttons and cause a bit of disruption, the value of the build is shallow and quickly fleeting. We much prefer a build that has been executed to realize the owner's personal dreams rather than a build that serves no other purpose than ruffling feathers in a search for attention.

So it begs the question, what makes Kazuki Ohashi's Ferrari Testarossa cool to you? Is it because it has left a wake of discontent commenters behind it? Or is it because, despite the discontent it has caused, Kazuki followed his vision and built a good-looking car? For me, it's the latter, and I hope you'll agree. But one thing I think is inarguable... It's one cool Ferrari.