It’s mid afternoon as I roll down Rhodes Drive in my less-than-exciting MK 7 Golf, but luckily this common or garden hatchback isn’t what I’ll be pointing my lens at today. Turning off the street, I just catch an all-black Ferrari Testarossa pulling into a parking space with a familiar face behind the wheel. Out steps Aaron, who you might remember from our 996 GT3 RS article earlier in the year. Not only is he this car’s custodian, but also the man responsible for introducing the Deus brand to South Africa, which is not-so-coincidentally our starting point today.
Located in Hout Bay, the Deus Cafe is much more than just a place to grab a croissant and coffee. “We brought the Deus brand to SA from Australia in 2015 and launched this site just before COVID hit in 2019,” Aaron tells me as we walk around the numerous rooms inside the old Dutch building, “Deus is a lifestyle brand incorporating motorcycles, cars, surfing, cycling, art, and of course, the restaurant and bar, bakery, and barber shop here in Hout Bay.” The interior is an eclectic mix of art, antique furniture, and endurance bikes, which all contribute to Deus Cafe's distinctly cool and relaxed atmosphere, making it the perfect place to start or end a good drive.
Aaron is clearly way ahead of me on that front; “We do the Parking Lot d’Elegance here, usually themed around a specific country or manufacturer. We can accommodate around 30 cars, which creates a really nice vibe, and we also do a special menu around the event - we’ve just brought on a fantastic new chef, so our evening trade has gone through the roof!” As much as I’d love to stay and lounge around Deus Cafe long into the night, there’s a Testarossa waiting outside, and a sunset to catch, so I suggest we hit the road.
With Aaron in the Testarossa ahead, soaking up the sunlight like a rolling, doorstop-shaped black hole, I’m immediately struck by the fact that my ten-year-old Golf isn’t exactly being left in the dust. Clearly, though, Aaron hasn’t yet put his foot down, because as soon as we reach the turning for Ou Kaapse Weg and a relatively straight piece of tarmac, the 12 cylinder Ferrari drops a gear and disappears up the road. Impressively quick, I think to myself, for a car that’s pushing 40. Catching up to Aaron as we crest the Steenberg mountains, we pull into a dustbowl of a parking lot for some beauty shots.
While the heat isn’t quite as searing as it was the day we shot Aaron's GT3 RS, the gale force winds quickly highlight one of the challenges of owning a black car in South Africa. As it turns out, that mirror finish—fresh from the detailing booth—does a fantastic job of magnetising dust, quickly lending the Ferrari an almost matte finish. I don’t want to linger on the scintillating topic of paint for too long, but the sight of a black car in South Africa is nearly as surprising as the Testarossa itself; typically, darker shades turn your car into a mobile oven under the African sun in a matter of minutes. “You have to choose your days, hey!” Aaron laughs. “The air con is great, but it can’t pull that much heat out, so it’s not one I tend to drive in the middle of summer.”
On our way through Constantia, we pull up to a traffic light, where I’m left in sheer disbelief as a group of cyclists arrive in a swarm of upward-raised thumbs to signal their approval of the Testarossa. Above all else, the most striking takeaway from the day is how thrilled literally everyone we pass seems to be at the sight of the Ferrari. It seems this 1980s supercar has managed to shrug off all pretences with age. In stark contrast to the chilly reception a dubiously-acquired acid yellow Urus or McLaren might receive, the Testarossa is met with nothing but smiles as we traverse Cape Town.
This warm reception only seems to build as we approach the colourful streets of Bo Kaap. Here, one of the Testarossa’s shortfalls is brought to the fore as we quickly realise that Ferrari didn't have the narrow lanes of Signal Hill in mind when designing this supercar. As I try to help Aaron navigate the maze of one-way roads, he admits the Testarossa isn’t the most frequently driven machine in his garage. “I drive it once a month or so; it’s probably the most intimidating of all my cars because the visibility isn’t the best and neither is the steering at slow speeds. It requires the most effort to get out of the garage, and it’s a bit of a squeeze for me, but it’s the most rewarding too.” Meanwhile, the slow progress through Bo Kaap has given the local rugrats ample time to assemble their BMX squad and congregate around the Ferrari. Above anyone else, these youngsters light up at the sight of the Testarossa and eagerly assume the role of bodyguard, escorting us to the nearest main road.
Back on the highway and with the sun sinking towards the ocean, we aim north, pressing on towards Blaauwberg and what promises to be one hell of a view. As the Ferrari’s 180 degree V12 settles into a canter, I ask Aaron how he came to own such an immaculate example. “I’ve had it for about 5 years,” he recalls. “I saw it in a collection, and the guy who owned it was changing his focus to Porsche, so I actually traded three cars for it! A 3.2 Carrera, a 930 Turbo, and a cabriolet of the same era. This was at the height of the Porsche craze, and I bought them cheap, so it was a good deal for me.” As for what drew Aaron to the Testarossa in the first place, I could have probably guessed the answer: “I’m 47, so I’m from the exact era of the Testarossa and Countach. I had both on my wall as a kid, so it’s a dream to own today; it’s the iconic Ferrari of that time.”
The Testarossa’s Table Mountain-esque rear almost completely distracts me from the task at hand as we approach our destination, but the sight of dozens of parked cars lining Blaauwberg Beach snaps me back to reality; finding an unobstructed view of the iconic mountain might be more difficult than anticipated. Luckily, Aaron’s local knowledge steers us in the direction of the perfect spot, a completely empty parking lot right on the water.
With swarms of kite surfers flitting back and forth in the high winds, and the sun beginning to kiss the horizon, Aaron and I enjoy a view that could have been ripped straight from the posters of his childhood bedroom. Sometimes a car perfectly suits its environment. While I had my doubts about the all-black classic Ferrari’s functionality in the South African heat, there’s no denying that a Testarossa by the sea at sunset, no matter where you are in the world, just looks right.
Photos and words by Mikey Snelgar © 2022