Year of manufacture1977
Number of seats2
1977 Ferrari 512 Berlinetta Boxer
Coachwork by Pininfarina
Registration no. BWX 44S
Chassis no. 21689
Engine no. 21689
One of only 929 512BBs produced, this relatively rare right-hand drive example was first owned by the famous racing driver and owner of Mallory Park Circuit, Chris Meek, who took delivery from Huddersfield Garages. At around that time, Colonel Ronnie Hoare's Maranello Concessionaires was involved in a dispute with a customer claiming that he had been deceived about his 512BB's claimed top speed of 188mph, Autocar having managed 'only' 165mph in the example they tested. Chris Meek knew the car was capable of its claimed maximum and offered to help by arranging a demonstration run. In the book, 'Mallory Park, Portrait of a Country Estate' by Gareth Evans, Chris recalled: 'We rendezvoused on the M1 just south of Sheffield at 5.00am, with a team of Huddersfield Garages' mechanics, the Michelin crew and a technician from the factory.' With photographer Mike Hargreaves alongside him to record the event, Chris wound the Boxer up to an indicated 190mph 'and actually had to back off slightly to get the definitive 188mph as I was going round a left-hand sweep.' Colonel Hoare showed the photograph to his litigious customer and nothing more was heard of the matter.
Mike Hargreaves used the photograph to produce a poster, which became very popular. A short while later, Chris received a telephone call from Ferrari asking him to visit the factory. Shown into Enzo Ferrari's office, he was astonished to see a copy of the poster on the wall. Il Commendatore thanked Chris for his help in demonstrating that the Boxer could really do the speed the factory claimed, and asked him if there was anything he would like as a reward for his help. The result was the delivery of a several pallets of Italian ceramic tiles, adorned with Ferrari's 'Prancing Horse' emblem, for the hallway of Chris' newly built house in Leeds.
Having reasserted itself at the top of the supercar hierarchy with the first 'Berlinetta Boxer' - the 365GTB/4 BB - Ferrari went one better with its successor, the 512BB. For the new Boxer, Ferrari abandoned its long-standing practice of denoting a model by the capacity of an individual cylinder and adopted the Dino-type nomenclature where '512' indicates 5 litres/12 cylinders. The increase in engine size from the original Boxer's 4.4 litres was made not so much with increased power in mind but to enable the 512BB to meet increasingly stringent emissions targets without loss of performance. Displacement was increased by enlarging both bore and stroke, while in addition the compression ratio was raised and dry-sump lubrication adopted. The result of all these changes was a useful increase in torque which, coupled with revised gear ratios, made the 512 more tractable.
Changes to Pininfarina's inspired coachwork were, not surprisingly, few: an air-dam spoiler beneath the nose, brake-cooling NACA ducts ahead of the rear wheel arches, four rear lights instead of six and revised air intake boxes, while slightly fatter rear tyres meant that the width of the 512's rear grew by just over 25mm. The running gear likewise came in for only minor revision, gaining stiffer springs/anti-roll bars and altered damping rates, while the already excellent all-round ventilated disc brakes remained unchanged. Inside, the 512 remained virtually the same as before but for the welcome adoption of multi-way adjustable seats in place of the fixed originals.
Road & Track magazine had achieved a speed of 175mph (280km/h) in the preceding 365GT/4 BB, and although lack of road space prevented the discovery of their test 512's capability, Ferrari's claimed maximum of 188mph was felt entirely realistic. The fact that this was down 4mph on the Lamborghini Countach's 'fastest ever' maximum was considered unimportant. 'That's because, taken on balance, the Ferrari 512 Boxer wins a more important award, as the best all-round sports and GT car we've tested. If we had to pin the reasons down to one it would have to be that the Ferrari doesn't forget the driver. The Boxer has it all, the speed, the handling, the lovely shape, the well done cockpit and, most important of all, a reputation for reliability.'
'21689' was purchased by current owner in 1981 from Chris Meek with the help of their mutual friend, racing driver Martin Birrane. The service booklet is stamped by Huddersfield Garages at 1,138 miles (21/9/77) and again at 2,170 miles (4/2/78) followed by Maranello Concessionaires in February 1980. The Ferrari was serviced again by Maranello Concessionaires in February 1981 at 9,865 miles (bill on file) and then by Moderna in 1983/84. It was then sold to a friend (Mr Brown) in 1985 at 15,857 miles. Routine servicing was undertaken by a local garage together with Radley Motors and MoTo Technique Ltd up to 2002, by which time the recorded mileage total had risen to circa 22,000. By 2009 it had only increased to 22,540 miles.
The vendor repurchased the car from Mr Brown in 2010 and the following year consigned it to Fullbridge Restorations in Maldon, Essex for re-commissioning and new tyres. It has remained in storage with Hoyle-Fox until now and benefits from recent servicing, re-commissioning and MoT by them (at 22,589 miles). Hoyle-Fox's bill for circa £5,000 is in the history file and the car also comes with its Ferrari wallet with instruction book, service booklet, etc; a V5C registration document; current MoT certificate; and an extract from the aforementioned book by Gareth Evans.
Possessing an engine directly related to Ferrari's contemporary Formula 1 unit, as well as being both lighter and faster than the legendary Daytona, the 512BB was one of the most capable and exciting supercars of its era and is still capable of providing all the thrills that an enthusiastic owner-driver could wish for. The '188mph' poster car, '21689' is one of the most famous of all Berlinetta Boxers.