Total Production: 1,007
The Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer was produced between 1973 through 1984 with a total of 2,323 examples of all 'BB' models produced. This was a very important model for the Ferrari marque and one that followed in the footsteps of the mid-engined road car, the 206 GT Dino. The mid-engine placement had been proven to be a useful technique in improving handling and performance; Cooper was one of the first marque's to showcase the potential in motorsports.
When Ferrari introduced their 206 GT Dino, they also introduced a model that stayed true to their heritage, with the 'cart before the horse.' The 365 GT/4 Daytona front-engined car was a phenomenal vehicle, equipped with a V12 power plant, and soon became legendary.
The 365 GT4 BB, for Berlinetta Boxer, was introduced at the 1971 Turin Motor Show. It incorporated many design features from the P6 Show Car of 1968. Mounted mid-ship was a flat-12 engine that shared its design and construction with Ferrari's racing program. It was introduced to rival Lamborghini's Miura. The production version was shown at the 1973 Paris Motor Show with sales beginning that same year. A total of 386 were constructed with 58 being right-hand drive.
The flat-12 engine was longitudinally mounted in the engine bay at a 180-degree angle with the gearbox mounted directly under the engine. The flaw in this design was too much weight in just one place and not evenly dispersed throughout the vehicle. Sixty percent of the weight was in the rear, as well as the engine sitting rather high since it was above the gearbox.
In 1976 at the Paris Motor Show Ferrari introduced their next iteration of the BB series, the 512 BB. This version brought changes to the vehicle's design along with a five-liter power plant. The triple tail lights were replaced with double units.
In 1981 the 512 BBi was introduced. The 'i' signified a fuel injection system. The 512 BBi remained in production until 1984 when it was replaced by the Ferrari Testarossa.By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2007
After the 312 P project, Ferrari completely withdrew from sportscar and GT racing and began to focus completely on Formula 1. U.S. distributor Luigi Chinetti took Ferrari's first mid-engine 12-cylinder road car, the 365 GT4/BB and with minimal to no factory input and was modified for use by his North American Racing Team. Larger wheels and tires were fitted, rear bodywork was widened and weight-adding luxury amenities were removed.
At the 1976 Paris Motorshow, Ferrari unveiled its replacement for the 365 GT4 BB, the 512 BB. While very similar aesthetically to the 365, the 512 BB had a larger engine that increased in size from 4.4 to 5 liters. Three of Ferrari's best-known privateers, Luigi Chinetti's NART in the U.S., Pozzi in France, and Garage Franchochamps in Belgium modified four 512s for the 1978 Le Mans. Unfortunately, none of them survived the race and the only Ferrari to finish was NART's older 365.
From 1975 until 1977 Ferrari received two driver's titles and three constructer's titles and Ferrari finally found time again for other competition efforts. After much persuasion, they set out to create a racing version of the 512. To allow for high speeds at Le Mans' long straights Pininfarina was entrusted to create an ultra streamlined silhouette body. Ferrari brought the weight down on the 512 BB by about 200 lbs with the chassis, but unfortunately, the huge new body added around the same, so really no weight was saved. Power was increased to 460-480bhp and the flat 12 engines were fitted with Lucas fuel injection. By the end of its production, power was up to 500 bhp.
Ferrari introduced in 1979, a factory-developed machine shaped in the Pininfarina wind tunnel that was a more thoroughly prepared set of competition 512 BBs, the Ferrari 512 BB LM. The LM was enhanced with a new wing for additional downforce at the rear, an extended nose, and a new roofline that ran to the back of the extended tail. The LM was almost 18 inches longer than the road-worth 512 Boxer and it weighed around 1,235 lbs less. In the back of the LM were 13-inch wheels and upfront were 13-inch wheels with flared fenders. Producing 480 hp, the fuel-injected 5.0-liter flat -12 had 120 above the stock motor.
Unfortunately, Porsche and the 512 BB's gearbox prevented the 512 BB LM from ever becoming a grand success. The problems with the gearbox were two-fold since to reduce the wheelbase, Ferrari mounted the 12 cylinder engine atop of the gearbox, but so much weight, so high, made the car handling severely hampered. The second issue was that it lacked reliability since Ferrari increased the engine output by over 100 bhp, but didn't modify the gearbox to handle the additional power.
The competition entered 700+ bhp Porsche 935s while Ferrari clients fielded the 480 bhp BB LMs. During the first Le Mans 24 Hours that the 412 BB LMs were involved in, the first four spots were filled with Porsches while the Garage Franchorchamps 512 finished at a very low 12th position.
The LM continued to be developed for the next several years and further innovations included a stronger gearbox, more power, and less weight. In 1981 the 512 BB LM's has a class victory in the Le Mans where a Pozzi entered LM beat the 935s. It was becoming too difficult for a production-based car to compete at the highest levels of endurance racing, especially without full factory participation. Regulation changes caused the 512 BB LM to be left obsolete.By Jessica Donaldson