From the Poster to the Garage: One Man’s Dream to own a Ferrari Legend
Mike Hemstreet is a self-admitted Corvette fanatic. A life-long Middle Georgia native, he inherited his love for GM’s classic sports car from his father, a longtime member and once president of Corvettes Limited of Central Georgia, a local owners club. Mike’s first, a big-block 1972 LS5 that he purchased in high school, ignited the passion that would ultimately lead to dozens of Corvettes passing through Mike’s garage over the next 30 years. This isn’t that story.
In 2013, Mike got an itch for something different. Since graduating in 1985, he developed a wild love for Italian exotics, particularly flirting with the classic bright red Ferraris. This affinity grew during his time in stationed at Baumholder, Germany with the US Army. There was something amazing seeing the cars on their home continent, but he tucked away any realistic expectations of ownership when he returned back to the US. Fast forward to 2013 and Mike, after watching the market, realized that his dream had slowly faded into a possible reality. Initially, he began his search for either a V8-powered 308 or 328 but soon realized that the more desirable V12 Testarossa was within his reach. He located a red 1990 model in Tampa, Florida, made the drive down, and returned home with his dream car.
The relationship with the first Testarossa, however, didn’t last. Soon after the purchase, circumstances necessitated that forced Mike to sell it. By January of 2014 though, seller’s remorse was in full effect. The search began again, and luckily, he located another red Testarossa in Pennsylvania. It was a 1988.5 example, equipped with the five lug hubs as opposed to the early ’88 and before center-lock design. This car was well-kept, but much to Mike’s disappointment it failed to crank upon his arrival and sat on flat tires. Mike wasn’t ready to give up. The car had around 23,000 miles, had been equipped with custom HRE wheels, a Tubi exhaust, and best of all, the owner had retained all of the OEM equipment. Taking a leap of faith, he made the deal and headed back down to Georgia.
After a new set of tires and some TLC, the Rosso Corsa supercar was as good as new. Mike has done the large majority of the work on the car himself, undaunted by the complexity of the mid-mounted Italian V12’s engine bay. He recounted the story of replacing the alternator, having realized that it was essentially the same design as a common AC Delco unit, required only slight modification to fit. He contends that the often dreaded expenses of Ferrari maintenance, while not unfounded, can be offset by a little ingenuity, research, and mechanical know-how. Mike’s only change to the car was the custom transparent engine cover (done to a spare panel to save the original), a modification that garners attention at nearly every meet he attends.
Mike has grown to appreciate the Testarossa as an incredible touring car, regularly taking it to Cars & Coffee style events and exotic gatherings with his son, Austin, around the Southeast. Although the car lacks power steering and power brakes, the car devours interstate miles with ease. While he enjoys his Corvettes for the raw power and visceral performance, the Ferrari offers an experience that effortlessly melds old-world mechanical perfection with the classic elements of eighties automotive design. It is luxurious, powerful, beautiful, quirky, and uncomfortable – simultaneously. Mike certainly won’t be abandoning his inherited love for GM’s legendary sports car (which he has, in turn, passed to Austin), but there’s certainly a different kind of spark in his demeanor when he talks about his Ferrari. One can imagine that being able to see your dream car in your garage, as opposed to a poster, would certainly do that to a man.
See more of this amazing masterpiece in the gallery below: