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Car Profile: Ferrari 512 Berlinetta Boxer

In the Clearing Stands a Boxer

Ferrari 512 Berlinetta Boxer
Photo Credit: Fantasy Junction, Geoff Pits

Ferrari has always been a leader in high-performance engineering and design. Although many of their most innovative ideas were often plagued by modest resources, internal struggles, and industrial politics, the combined passion and stubbornness frequently yielded something glorious. Nowhere is this more apparent than when Ferrari launched their first 12-cylinder mid-engine production car. Challenged by the rapidly evolving sports car market, Lamborghini had been steadily making their name as they taunted Ferrari with their earlier offerings. Particularly Lamborghini launched the Miura. Ferrari, who had largely been playing it safe, could no longer stand down. The horse had to meet the bull head on in the arena. In 1971 with the introduction of the 365 GT/4 BB and subsequent production model released in 1973, it was clear that this car would significantly change the future of the Ferrari brand, which was further enhanced by the 1976 launch of the more powerful and capable 512BB.

Ferrari 512 Berlinetta Boxer
Photo Credit: Supercar Nostalgia

Designed by Leonardo Fioravanti at Pininfarina, the Ferrari 365 captured an innovative, fresh design derived from the earlier 1968 show car. Having penned many of Ferrari’s most celebrated cars including the Daytona, the Dino, and 308, Fioravanti employed clamshell front/rear bonnets, angular but softened fender lines, and an impressively wide stance, particularly at the rear of the car. All these features were dramatic but also captured the mid-engine engineering package in a unique way. Tthe sublime Flat-12 engine power and delivery were perfectly matched in the crisp angular architecture of the Pininfarina design. Surprisingly the term BB, long referred to as Berlinetta Boxer, was not the original named description. Ferrari engineer Mauro Forghieri suggests the factory engineering designation was Berlinetta Bialbero or dual camshaft. Regardless of the named intent, the end result was one of the most compelling and dramatic mid-engine cars ever constructed. Unlike the radical Countach, the 512 BB was a far more refined road car capable of impressive acceleration and yet a very usable exotic.

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