1981 Ferrari 512BB
Year of manufacture1981
Mileage81 000 km / 50 332 mi
With the success of the Lamborghini Miura and its mid-rear V12 engine, the “commendatore” in Maranello had to reconsider his old conception sports cars.
The Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona was selling well with its front engine, but the future seemed to be leaning towards the rear for top sports cars. For this reason, the study of a super sports car based on this type of architecture was launched in 1968, giving birth in 1973 to the Ferrari 365 GT4 BB, then to its descendants 512 BB (1976) and 512 BBi (1981). The Ferrari BB (berlinette boxer) follows the path inaugurated by the Dino 206 GT, the first mid-engined GT produced by Maranello. Its prototype was unveiled on the Pininfarina stand at the 1971 Turin Motor Show. The first foundations of the project were laid in 1968 with the presentation by Pininfarina of the Ferrari P6 concept car, designed by Leonardo Fioravanti. Although the rear end did not survive industrialization, the front end strongly inspired the design of the future Berlinetta Boxer and subsequently all the generations of Berlinetta (308, 288, 348 up to the 355): a style was born, immediately identifiable as a Ferrari for the next 30 years.
If the car has a certain aesthetic kinship with the P6, the great novelty is its twelve cylinder flat engine. Placed in a central position, but in line with the chassis, it offers the advantage of its low height, which allows the vehicle's centre of gravity to be lowered. This results in finer aerodynamics and better handling.
The BB owes its very sporty appearance to its low profile (only 1.12 metres in height), the effect being accentuated by the width of the body (1.80 metres) and the groove running along its sides. As for the vertical rear window, it is inserted between the long quarter-panels, which come to rest on the truncated stern. A spoiler has been placed in the extension of the roof line to create a depression zone above the engine. This system, which favors the ventilation of the twelve cylinders as well as the supply of air to the carburetors, makes it possible to avoid the use of side gills, generally unsightly.
The Ferrari 365 GT4 BB was aerodynamically designed in Pininfarina's new wind tunnel and features a large sloping windscreen and retractable headlights. The doors are made of aluminium, with the front and rear bonnets tilting as a unit with the wings. The bodywork of the production car, manufactured by Scaglietti, was given a two-tone finish, with the lower body, roof spoiler and carburettor cover all painted black.
While the boxer engine was being developed, the BB was not marketed until two years after its presentation. It is true that the success of the 365 GTB4 Daytona did not encourage its early replacement. At the 1973 Paris Motor Show, the latter was finally replaced by the BB, which took the official name of 365 GT4 BB - the number four referring to the four overhead camshafts and the number 365 corresponding to the unit capacity in cm3.
The big attraction of the newcomer is its superb 4.4-litre light alloy engine. Like the V8 of the 308 GT4 launched at the same Paris Motor Show, which has identical dimensions (81 x 71 millimetres), the four overhead camshafts are driven by two toothed belts, which are quieter and lighter than the traditional chains. The heart of this engine is its superb seven-bearing crankshaft made of chrome molybdenum steel. Fuelled by four Weber triple-body carburettors, the twelve-cylinder boxer offers 360 hp and 42 mkg of torque.
With a speed of 280 km/h and a standing start kilometre covered in 25 seconds, the performance is close to that of the Daytona. The difference is elsewhere. It is in the driving pleasure that the BB asserts its superiority over the Daytona with the front engine, heavy and tiring to drive. Lighter and more manoeuvrable, the BB is also more comfortable thanks to its softer suspension.
The BB had its first evolution in 1976, when its "flat twelve" was increased to five litres. The increase in displacement was achieved by a significant increase in stroke and a slight re-boring. The power did not change, but it was obtained at a lower speed (6800 rpm against 7700 rpm) while the torque increased by 10%. This is all to the benefit of driving pleasure. Unveiled at the Paris Motor Show at the same time as the 400i, the car became BB 512. In this new naming system, the numbers 5 and 12 stand for five litres and twelve cylinders. Apart from a few cosmetic changes, such as wider wheel arches, the BB 512 is most recognisable by its front spoiler and the air intakes in front of the rear wheels to cool the brakes.
After the 400i in 1979 and the V8 (Mondial and 308) the following year, the BB was the last Ferrari to adopt fuel injection at the 1981 Frankfurt Motor Show. Largely motivated by compliance with anti-pollution standards, the use of the Bosch K-Jetronic mechanical system resulted in a 20 bhp reduction in power. The BB 512i received new, larger Cromodora wheels with Michelin TRX tyres. This is how the seductive BB ended its successful career, with the production of 2323 cars (total of three models). In 1984, it was replaced by the Testarossa.
Although not designed for racing, the BB was entered in competition by the prancing horse enthusiasts Charles Pozzi, Luigi Chinetti and the Belgian Jean "Beurlys".
With unofficial help from Maranello, four cars (two of which were for the French team) were prepared for the 1978 Le Mans 24 Hours. Developing 460 bhp and lightened, they all had to retire due to transmission problems. The lessons of this failure were learned for 1979. The transmission received straight cut gears, the front of the car was lengthened and streamlined, while indirect injection increased power to 480 bhp. But the verdict was just as disappointing: only the Belgian car finished the race in Le Mans in the middle of the classification (12th place). It was not until 1981 and the fine fifth place of the Andruet-Ballot-Lena team that the BB 512 LM obtained a flattering result in the Sarthe. These setbacks illustrate the difficulty of converting a road GT into a racing machine. Even when the name is Ferrari. The sixties are far away...
The car we are presenting is a Ferrari 512BB first registered in February 1981. The current owner, a former endurance driver including the 1995 Le Mans 24 hours, bought it from Osenat in 2007 with 63,000km. The car then joined his collection and took part in many rallies.
It will be regularly and scrupulously maintained by reputable workshops:
Garage Supersport :
- 2007 / 63 000 km. Inspection, general overhaul, gearbox adjustment, oil change, carburetor adjustment.
- 2008 / 69 000 km. Oil change, filters, front spoiler repair, wheel paint.
- 2009 / 72 000 km. Belts, oil change, clutch, unleaded cylinder head.
Gipi Motor :
- 2010 General overhaul, rack and pinion, brakes, geometry, air conditioning.
- 2011 74 000 km. Fuses and connections check. Cleaning of jets and adjustments.
- 2011 74 000 km. Removal and adjustment of valves and cylinder head, check for engine leaks.
Gipi Motor :
- 2014 / 77 000 km. General overhaul, engine oil change, brakes, new exhaust, paint polishing...
- 2017 79,000 km. Engine/transmission removal. Gearbox sprockets and shafts overhaul, engine/box sealing, belts, seals, rollers, bearings, timing.
Heritage Motors Cars :
- 2022 81 000 km. Ignition/carburation adjustment. Geometry. Air conditioning.
With 81,000 km on the odometer our 512BB is in perfect working order with a nice original patina.