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512 BBi
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  Ferrari 512 BBi

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Country of origin:Italy
Produced from:1981 - 1984
Numbers built:1007
Designed by:Pininfarina
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:Before December 1st, 2004
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Click here to download printer friendly versionNearly a decade after Cooper revolutionised racing with their mid-engined Grand Prix cars, Ferrari introduced their first mid-engined road car, the 206 GT Dino. Unlike most of the mid-engined racers, the Dino featured a transversely mounted engine to allow for compact dimensions and sufficient cabin space. A setup Ferrari used for over two decades for their 'compact' cars and it was only abandoned with the introduction of the 348 TB in 1990. However, for the larger engined 'supercars' the sheer size of the engine would not allow for transverse mounting and a more common longitudinal setup was chosen.

When the 206 GT Dino was introduced, Ferrari also introduced their new top of the line model, the 365 GT/4 Daytona. In good Ferrari tradition, the Daytona was equipped with a front-mounted V12 engine, whereas its main competitor, the Lamborghini Miura, already featured a mid-mounted engine. This seemingly 'outdated' layout did not stop the Daytona from achieving legendary status, but for its replacement Ferrari chose for the 'modern' layout.

First introduced at the 1971 Turin Motorshow, the 365 GT4 BB (Berlinetta Boxer) featured many styling cues found on the P6 show car of 1968. Not only the longitudinal mounting of the BB's engine was new for a Ferrari production car, but so was its layout. Like the Ferrari Grand Prix and Sports racers of the day, the BB was equipped with a flat 12 engine. The engine shared its construction with the race-engines, but its displacement, bore & stroke, rods and pistons were the same as the Daytona's it replaced.

To overcome the added length of the longitudinally mounted engine, Ferrari's engineers made the best use of the flat 12 layout. The engine's relatively low height allowed the gearbox to be mounted under the engine, saving a lot of space. However ingenious this might sound and look, it was the major drawback of the BB. Too much weight was centered above the rear axle, giving the BB a weight balance front/rear of 40:60. Handling was also hampered by the relatively high mounted engine and nose mounted radiator. For normal road use handling was more than sufficient, but it does explain why racing version of the BB were never really successful.

At the 1976 Paris Motor Show Ferrari launched a revised version of the BB, the 512 BB. Displacement was increased to almost 5 litres and the body was slightly modified. The characteristic triple tail light and exhaust units were replaced by more common double units. Five years later the fuel inject 512 BBi was presented to the public. In 1984 the wedge shaped body was replaced by the more rounded Testarossa body, but technically the two cars were very similar.

The featured examples are seen here at 2003 Bonham's Ferrari auction in Gstaad and the 2004 Ferrari Club of America Concours d'Elegance in Monterey, California.

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  Article Image gallery (15) Specifications