A Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer (BB) is one of a series of cars produced by Ferrari in Italy between 1973 and 1984. They used a mid-mounted flat-12 engine, replacing the FR layout Daytona, and were succeeded in the Ferrari stable by the Testarossa. It was designed by Leonardo Fioravanti. The Boxer was the very first mid-engined road-car to bear the Ferrari name and the Cavallino Rampante (prancing horse) logo.
No BB was ever originally sold in North America, as Enzo did not believe it to be worth the cost of complying with the extra environmental and safety regulations. However, third parties made conversions, and quite a few of them are now in the United States.
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. This attitude began to change as the marque lost its racing dominance in the late 1950s to mid-engined competitors. The mid-engined 6- and 8-cylinder Dino racing cars were the result, and Ferrari later allowed for the production Dino road cars to use the layout as well. The company also moved its V12 engines to the rear with its P and LM racing cars, but the Daytona was launched with its engine in front. It was not until 1970 that a mid-engined 12-cylinder road car would appear.
The first "Boxer" was the 365 GT4 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 (of which 58 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-12 engine was mounted longitudinally rather than transversely (as it was mounted in the Dino; the Daytona was a conventional front-engine, longitudinal design). It has 380 hp (283 kW) which is also slightly higher 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.
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 liter, 12 cylinder engine; a deviation from Ferrari's established practice of naming 12-cylinder road cars (as the 365 BB) after their cylinder displacement. The engine was enlarged to 4943.04 cc, with an increased compression ratio of 9.2:1. Power was slightly down to 360 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 GT4 BB.
929 BB 512 models were produced.
The Bosch K-Jetronic CIS fuel injected BB 512i introduced in 1981 was the last of the series. The fuel injected motor produced cleaner emissions and offered a better balance of performance and daily-driver temperament.
External differentiators from the BB 512 besides badging include a change to metric sized wheels and the Michelin TRX metric tire system, small white running lights in the nose, and red rear fog lamps outboard of the exhaust pipes in the rear valance.
1,007 BB 512i models were produced.
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.
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. 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.
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), a system later adapted to the 512i BB. 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, 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.