Speciale delivery: 1969 Ferrari 512S Berlinetta by Pininfarina

Filippo Sapino is perhaps best known for the three decades he served as design director at Ghia. But by far his most striking project was the Ferrari 512S Berlinetta Speciale, undertaken during a short stint at Pininfarina in the late 1960s…

Launched at the 1969 Turin Motor Show, the Ferrari 512S Berlinetta Speciale concept shocked and confused in equal measure. The shock factor came from its being the first Ferrari to receive the ‘wedge’ treatment that became popular in the late 60s; the confusion stemmed from the ‘512S’ moniker, as there was no 5.0-litre V12 to be found beneath the louvres of that rear clamshell.

Split personality

It wasn’t a 3.0-litre V12 either, despite the Speciale’s underpinnings being rescued from a 312P (chassis #0868) badly damaged in service at the 1000km of Monza. The engine was in fact a 6.0-litre V12 from a 612 Can-Am racer – although it was sadly an empty block, explaining why an earth-mover was required to ‘escort’ it to this rendezvous atop a mountain in Como, Italy. Regardless, Sapino had made the most of the floor-hugging physique of the chassis, adding some unorthodox surface treatments to visually transform static into supersonic.

War of the wedges

Flourishes such as the flip-up canopy completed the Speciale’s theatre, but it was to be another 512S concept that would come to define the wedge-tastic era: Paulo Martin’s Ferrari Modulo of 1970. The Berlinetta Speciale was perhaps more significant for breaking the curvaceous mould of prior road-going Ferraris, while also setting an angluar design precedent for the 365 GTC/4 (also a Sapino design) and the later Berlinetta Boxers.

Photos: Rainer Schlegelmilch / Getty Images

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