Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer

The Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer (BB) is a sports car that was produced by Ferrari in Italy between 1973 and 1984. Replacing the front engined Daytona, it was the first in a series of Ferraris to use a mid-mounted flat-twelve engine. The Boxer was designed by Leonardo Fioravanti and was the first mid-engined road-car to bear the Ferrari name and the Cavallino Rampante (prancing horse) logo. It was replaced by the Testarossa, which continued to use the flat-twelve engine.

Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer
Ferrari 512 BBi (Kirchzarten) jm20682.jpg
Ferrari BB 512i
2,323 produced
AssemblyMaranello, Italy
DesignerLeonardo Fioravanti at Pininfarina[1]
Body and chassis
ClassSports car (S)
Body style2-door berlinetta
LayoutRear mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive
Transmission5-speed manual
Wheelbase2,500 mm (98.4 in)
Length4,400 mm (173.2 in)
Width1,830 mm (72.0 in)
Height1,120 mm (44.1 in)
PredecessorFerrari 365 GTB/4
SuccessorFerrari Testarossa


Production of the BB was a major step for Enzo Ferrari. He felt that a mid-engined road car would be too difficult for his buyers to handle, and it took many years for his engineers to convince him to adopt the layout.[2] This attitude began to change as the marque lost its racing dominance in the late 1950s to mid-engined competitors. As a result, the rear-mid-engined 246 P Formula 1 car was introduced in 1960, followed by the Dino SP racing sports prototypes in 1961. In 1963, the company also moved its V12 engines to the rear with its P and LM racing cars.

Introduced in 1967, the Dino 206 GT and 246 GT/GTS road cars were the first road-going Ferraris to use the rear-mid-engined layout, albeit under the lower-cost Dino marque. Ferrari's flagship V12-powered road cars remained front-engined through the early 1970s, with the 365 GTB/4 Daytona and 365 GTC/4 introduced in 1968 and 1971, respectively. In 1973, Ferrari introduced the 365 GT/4 Berlinetta Boxer as its first mid-engined 12-cylinder road car.

365 GT/4 BBEdit

365 GT/4 BB
387 produced
Engine4.4 L F102A flat-12

The first "Boxer" was the 365 GT/4 BB shown at the 1971 Turin Motor Show. Designed to rival the Lamborghini Miura and the newly developed Lamborghini Countach, it was finally released for sale in 1973 at the Paris Motor Show. 387 were built, of which 88 were right-hand drive (58 of those for the UK market), making it the rarest of all Berlinetta Boxers. The Pininfarina-designed body followed the P6 show car with popup headlights.

Though it shared its numerical designation with the Daytona, the Boxer was radically different. It was a mid-engined car like the Dino, and the now flat-twelve engine was mounted longitudinally rather than transversely (as it was mounted in the Dino; the Daytona was a conventional front-engine, longitudinal design). The engine produced 380 PS (279 kW; 375 hp), slightly more than the Daytona.

The engine shared its internal dimensions with the V12 from the Daytona, but was spread out to 180° as on Ferrari's 1970 Formula One car and was mounted above a five-speed manual transmission. One major difference in this engine was its use of timing belts rather than chains. Although referred to as a Boxer, the 180° V12 was not a true boxer engine, but rather a flat engine.

BB 512Edit

BB 512
929 produced
Engine4.9 L F102B F-12

The 365 GT4 BB was updated as the BB 512 in 1976, resurrecting the name of the earlier Ferrari 512 racer. The name 512 referred to the car's 5 litre, 12 cylinder engine; a deviation from Ferrari's established practice of naming 12-cylinder road cars (as the 365 BB) after their individual cylinder displacement. The engine was enlarged to 4943 cc,[3] with an increased compression ratio of 9.2:1. Power was slightly down to 360 PS (265 kW; 355 hp), while a dual plate clutch handled the added torque and eased the pedal effort. Dry sump lubrication prevented oil starvation in hard cornering. The chassis remained unaltered, but wider rear tires (in place of the 365's equally sized on all four corners) meant the rear track grew 63 mm.

External differentiators included a new chin spoiler upfront, incorporated in the bumper. A NACA duct on the side provided cooling for the exhaust system. At the rear there were now twin tail lights and exhaust pipes each side, instead of triple units as on the 365 GT/4 BB.[4]

929 BB 512 models were produced.

BB 512iEdit

BB 512i
1,007 produced
Engine4.9 L F110A FI F-12

The Bosch K-Jetronic CIS fuel injected BB 512i[5] introduced in 1981 was the last of the series. The fuel injected motor produced cleaner emissions and offered a better balance of performance and driveability.

External differentiators from the BB 512 besides badging include a change to metric sized wheels and the Michelin TRX metric tyre system, small white running lights in the nose (grill), and red rear fog lamps outboard of the exhaust pipes in the rear valance.

1,007 BB 512i models were produced.

Berlinetta Boxer in North AmericaEdit

1977 "grey market" U.S. model 512 BB in Beverly Hills, CA, USA 2019 - with engine cover open
1983 "grey market" 512 BBi in Canada
Ferrari 512 BB in Vermont 2016

Neither the BB, nor it's closest competitor, Lamborghini Countach, were built from the factory to meet United States or Canadian safety and emissions regulations. [6] Enzo Ferrari believed that emerging environmental and safety regulations and the 55 MPH national speed limit suggested the company's eight-cylinder cars would suffice in the Malaise era U.S. market.[7]

American's purchased the Berlinetta Boxer anyway, and both individual consumers and even authorized Ferrari dealers paid to modify each vehicle to meet United States Environmental Protection Agency and United States Department of Transportation regulations. [6] This was known as the grey market era (1976-1988). While the BB, Lamborghini Countach, and Range Rover were among the first such vehicles, the infrastructure they created allowed the "grey market" to reach 66,900 vehicles in 1985. [8]

Unlike the 1985 Countach 5000 QV, there never was a "factory" U.S. model Berlinetta Boxer, a car that came off the production line in U.S. trim. But, Americans did receive the BB's successor, Ferrari Testarossa.

The United States is Ferrari's biggest market and has traditionally been the largest market in the world for expensive cars, such as exotic sports cars.[9]

The American federal exempts all vehicles older than 25 years from all design, safety, and emission regulations. Therefore, any Countach, as well as any other vehicle, can be freely imported into the US by any private customer i.e. American citizen and registered for unrestricted road use, in states that permit such activity.[10]

Specifications and performanceEdit

Measurements are notoriously variable, inaccurate, and definitionally vague even from Ferrari-issued sources of the same period. For example, the workshop manual documents maximum speed (typically speed at redline), whereas the owner's manual documents attainable speed, which appears to be speed at maximum HP per RPM not exceeding redline; for the 512 and 512i, this is likely not the maximum speed. Also, the workshop manual does not consistently distinguish measurements between the carbureted (512) and injected (512i) engines except with respect to the fuel delivery system, even though it is common knowledge that differences exist.

Owner's Manuals 365 GT/4 BB[11] BB 512[12] BB 512i[13]
Power 344 PS (253 kW; 339 hp) at 7200 rpm 340 PS (250 kW; 335 hp) at 6200 rpm 340 PS (250 kW; 335 hp) at 6000 rpm
Torque 41.7 kg⋅m (302 lb⋅ft; 409 N⋅m) at 3900 rpm 46 kg⋅m (333 lb⋅ft; 451 N⋅m) at 4600 rpm 46 kg⋅m (333 lb⋅ft; 451 N⋅m) at 4200 rpm
Redline 7000 rpm 6800 rpm 6600 rpm
Attainable speed 302 km/h (188 mph) @ 7000 rpm 272 km/h (169 mph) @ 6200 rpm 257 km/h (160 mph) @ 6000 rpm
0–100 km/h (0-62 mph) 5.4 secs n/a n/a
Dry weight 1,235 kg (2,723 lb) 1,596 kg (3,519 lb) n/a
Kerb weight n/a n/a 1,580 kg (3,483 lb)
Workshop Manual 365 GT/4 BB BB 512 & 512i
Power 344 hp (257 kW) at 7200 rpm 360 hp (268 kW) at 6200 rpm
Torque 41.7 kg⋅m (409 N⋅m; 302 lb⋅ft) at 3900 rpm 46 kg⋅m (451 N⋅m; 333 lb⋅ft) at 4600 rpm
Redline 7000 rpm 6600 rpm
Maximum speed 302 km/h (188 mph) 288 km/h (179 mph)
0–100 km/h (0-62 mph) 5.4 secs 5.4 secs
Dry weight 1,235 kg (2,723 lb) 1,515 kg (3,340 lb)
Kerb weight n/a n/a


A Series III Ferrari 512 BB LM

In 1974, Luigi Chinetti's North American Racing Team (NART) developed a racing variant of the 365 GT4 BB to replace the team's Daytonas for use in sports car racing. NART's car debuted at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1975 before earning a sixth-place finish at the 12 Hours of Sebring two months later.[14] NART continued to use the car into 1978, by which time Ferrari had begun their own development of a racing variant of the updated 512 BB. Ferrari's Customer Assistance Department extensively modified four 512s in 1978, adding wider wheel arches, a roof-mounted aerofoil, and reusing rear wings from Ferrari 312T2 Formula One cars. Power from the flat-12 was increased to 440 hp (328 kW) while the cars' weight was decreased to approximately 1,200 kg (2,646 lb). The four cars, termed BB LM by Ferrari, were entered by Charles Pozzi, Ecurie Francorchamps, and NART in the 1978 24 Hours of Le Mans, but none was able to complete the race.[15]

After the failure of the first batch, Ferrari worked on fixing the BB LM with a second development program in late 1978. The flat-12's carburetors were replaced with an electronic fuel injection system to increase power to 470 hp (350 kW),[16] a system later adapted to the 512 BBi. The production-based bodywork of the first BB/LMs was replaced by a new design developed by Pininfarina which was 16 in (41 cm) longer and carried over none of the original styling cues. The pop-up headlights were now replaced by fixed units integrated into the fascia, while the tail was lengthened to the maximum allowed by regulations. Nine of these revised BB LMs were built by Ferrari in 1979,[17] while a further refined series of sixteen were built from 1980 to 1982. Amongst the BB LM's best finishes was a fifth overall and first in the GTX class at the 1981 24 Hours of Le Mans.[18]

BB acronymEdit

According to engineer Mauro Forghieri, the designation "BB" did not originally mean "Berlinetta Boxer." He stated during an interview with Davide Cironi that they knew the car was not equipped with a Boxer engine. He explained the meaning of the acronym (Berlinetta Boxer) was fabricated by journalists, in reality it means Berlinetta Bialbero (dual camshaft).[19]

An alternative origin story of this name was put forward by Leonardo Fioravanti. He claimed that the "BB" designation was derived from a nickname given to the car by designer Fioravanti, Angelo Bellei and Sergio Scaglietti. During development of the 365 GT/4 BB, they began to refer to the car as "Brigitte Bardot", as they perceived the prototype to be exceptionally beautiful like the French actress. This nickname was shortened to "BB" and quickly adopted by other Ferrari factory workers. "Berlinetta Boxer" was later invented by Ferrari officials prior to the model's introduction at the 1971 Turin Auto Show, as it was considered unprecedented to name a Ferrari after a woman.[20][21]


  1. ^ "Designer". Retrieved 2012-02-08.
  2. ^ Ahlgrim, Steve (December 2014). "1984 Ferrari 512 BBi Berlinetta Boxer". Sports Car Market: 56–57.
  3. ^ "Ferrari 512 BB". Ferrari GT - en-EN. Retrieved 2016-01-15.
  4. ^ "Ferrari official website, past models: GT 512 BB". Retrieved 11 May 2014.
  5. ^ "Ferrari official website, past models: GT 512 BBi". Retrieved 11 May 2014.
  6. ^ a b Rusz, Joe (December 1978). "Lamborghini Countach S". Road & Track. Newport Beach, CA, USA: CBS Inc. - CBS Publications: 38–41.
  7. ^ Yang, Tom (May 2011). "How the Boxer came to America". Forza: 38–39.
  8. ^ "Tax Administration Gas Guzzler Tax Compliance Can Be Increased" (PDF). United States General Accounting Office. 16 July 1987. p. 33. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  9. ^ Peter Valdes-Dapena (5 February 2014). "Lamborghini - Exotic car sales surge to record high - except Ferrari - CNNMoney". Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  10. ^ "Importing a Motor Vehicle". United States Customs and Border Protection. 17 April 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  11. ^ Ferrari 365 GT4 BB Instruction Book. Ferrari. 1973.
  12. ^ Ferrari BB 512 Instruction Book. Ferrari. 1980.
  13. ^ Ferrari BB 512i Owner's Manual. Ferrari. 1981.
  14. ^ "Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer Part 4: 365 GT4 BB 'NART LM'". QV500. Archived from the original on 2008-10-08. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
  15. ^ "Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer Part 5: 512 BB LM Series I". QV500. Archived from the original on 2005-12-22. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
  16. ^ "Ferrari 512 BB LM". Ferrari GT - en-EN. Retrieved 2016-01-15.
  17. ^ "Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer Part 6: 512 BB LM Series II". QV500. Archived from the original on 2008-08-29. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
  18. ^ "Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer Part 7: 512 BB LM Series III". QV500. Archived from the original on 2008-10-11. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
  19. ^ "Forghieri Racconta: 12 domande imperdibili - Intervista di Davide Cironi". Davide Cironi. 2019-05-10.
  20. ^ Sorokanich, Bob (2018-10-18). "This Legendary Ferrari Was Secretly Named for Brigitte Bardot". Road & Track. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  21. ^ Borgomeo, Vincenzo (1 April 2020). "THE BB SECRET". The Official Ferrari Magazine. Retrieved 2020-04-30.


  • Buckley, Martin; Rees, Chris (1998). World Encyclopedia of Cars. London: Anness Publishing. ISBN 1-84038-083-7.
  • Ferrari Workshop/Repair Manual 365 GT4 BB - BB 512 - BB 512i.

External linksEdit