Featured: A Ferrari 512 BBi Is A Car To Drift On Track

A Ferrari 512 BBi Is A Car To Drift On Track

Petrolicious Productions By Petrolicious Productions
June 18, 2015
13 comments

Story and Photography by Davide Cironi

I’m in love with this lady in black. I can’t stop staring at her, in the early morning light. We arrived here with a red Ferrari Testarossa—and a dark sided, bad eyed, mean sounding 512 BBi.

I took the BBi out at dawn, from a hidden workshop on the outskirts of Turin, Italy. Sharing the space with the ‘Boxer’ was a Lamborghini Countach QV, Porsche 959, and Jaguar E-type—all seductive in their own way. One of the owners here is an ex-Lancia mechanic, and part of Pininfarina’s project for Jim Glickenhaus—in other words, he used his talent to help create the insane Ferrari P4/5 by Pininfarina.

The others may be distractions, but I can only focus on this black beauty. Both my first and current car wear black paint with a cream interior—this could totally be my Ferrari, and we’d live happily ever after.

Now: supercars have engines. This wedge on wheels has a mid-mounted flat twelve, and it sounds off like no other. It is not a V12, it is not a Boxer—a difference hard to understand if you don’t feel it up your spine. Sound is different, different from any other attribute a supercar like this can share.

On the highway, it howls, hard, in the fast lane—it’s easy to feel like god in sunglasses at every “clack” of the gear gate.

Now that the sun is higher, my eyes are making a closer examination. I’m addicted—the 512 BBi is almost the Brigitte Bardot of motoring.

At the back, she has naked legs, and I can see it all: suspension, exhaust system, engine. I have to reach out and touch these parts and feel connected to those who built them back in the days—but I can’t resist anymore, I must drive it. Seriously. This was the first twelve cylinder mid-engined Ferrari, after the 250 LM—road-going, yes, but a proper race car. The 365 GT/4 BB from 1973 to 1976 was designed to beat both the Miura and Countach.

Ferrari never accepted the Miura’s beauty, they hated it—so they tried to do something better or different.

The one I’m driving here is a BBi, so no more carburetors, and 340 horsepower instead of 380. That said, no more certain death if you’re no Gilles Villeneuve.

It’s fast. The 4,942-cc engine screams in my ears while I’m flooring it on the straight. Braking in a straight line is not a problem, but braking while cornering is very hard—and not advised, anyway.

Its front and rear are always fighting to slide against your wishes, but it also gives the feedback you need to control everything. This is a dangerous dance…but incredibly sensual.

It’s all about sound, connection with the steering, and traction at the same time. The moment you figure out how to best use its chassis to hurl you through corners, and feel in perfect harmony with power—it’s a moment where nothing else matters. There’s only an indicated 9,000 km (5,600 miles) on the odo, and every time I look at it, it’s like I’ve just bought a brand new 512 BBi in the early ‘80s, when owners needed both money and courage to drive a supercar.

Sunset. The BB and the Testarossa are posing for photos. I smoke probably a hundred cigarettes, and try not to accept that I will never see this scene again—the car has been sold, just one of many of our Bardots that has been sent away…probably never to return to Italy.

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Robert PlotkingmonsenIzzo AltomareEba NormaalneNick Holbrook Recent comment authors
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Izzo Altomare
Izzo Altomare

Gorgeous Petrolicious!

Eba Normaalne
Eba Normaalne

i would megasquirt it

Nick Holbrook
Nick Holbrook

“This was the first twelve cylinder mid-engined Ferrari, after the 250 LM—road-going, yes, but a proper race car”

someone seems to have forgotten about all the various 365 and 330 P cars (all of which were road legal – just about)
and the 512 S & M (albeit not road legal)

Boxerman
Boxerman

Interesting comments to read. Firstly the Tr was incrediably sucessful, so have no idea where the comment coes from. True the later cars were more sucessful, because if you build a car any poseur can drive, you expand the market. As to BBs. Having owned and driven one for close to 25 years here are some impressions. Unlike moderns which truly are underwhelming to drive untill at 9/10ths, being pretty much no different to a hyundai in feel untill insane ve,ocities a boxer is always engaging. Even worse its impossible to sanely drive a modern at 9/10ths on the road,… Read more »

Dennis Cavallino
Dennis Cavallino

Love the BB in black. The video is too long and boring. The same shots over and over again. I don’t like to see these cars on a Karting track. I know how MR-layout cars handle and this is no other. The benefits start to show from low speeds all the way to very high speeds. I don’t know how the new owner appreciates the revving and drifting, but I do like the way you control a car. It’s just not that special to show every of the 40 laps you drove. And was there a spin you cut out… Read more »

Ian Miles
Ian Miles

It’s a wedge hidden from the wind, says it all really.

Jens VonBulow
Jens VonBulow

I love the Boxer and always have, but drifting…?? Drifting is what happens when you mess up, when you get the corner wrong and you oversteer. It’s the slow way around a track.

Robert Plotkin
Robert Plotkin

Jens,

Useless you are racing, who cares what the fastest way around the track is? 512’s aren’t race cars so they would only be used at a track day, which is about having fun testing the limits of your car in a safer environment than a road lined with trees and boulders. As long as you are staying on the racing line and being predictable to other derives, slide it’s ass out of every corner, if you’re capable.

dawid
dawid

I love this car and was lucky enough to visit a workshop that was doing a partial restoration on one.

This is the carburetor version though. It actually came out of the factory in black and then was painted a two tone red black. This one was used in the Sydney Motor show. It was recently brought back to its original black glory.

A few really detailed photos. Enjoy 🙂 [url=”https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.908101459236114.1073741900.524076544305276&type=3″]Your text to link…[/url]

carbuildindex
carbuildindex

Davide Cironi, of the Davide Cironi Drive Experience, great to see you here at Petrolicious. For you who do not know already, Davide has some of the best videos on youtube this side of, well, Petrolicious. No connection at all, just a huge fan!

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

I’ll be honest here [ as I usually am ] I love the way the BB512 and its predecessor 365GT BB looked and sounded . Loved the Pininfarina design . Adored the fact that they didn’t try and copy the Lamborghini’s . Was thrilled that the flat 12 was based on the F1 motor . But driving them ? Suffice it to say I find all the BB’s to be somewhat less than underwhelming not to mention a royal pain in the posterior to drive . Even the BB LM I drove years ago was a serious let down .… Read more »

JB21
JB21

I, too, hate to admit, but it’s totally true, both 512BB and Testarossa are so overrated, and pretty horrible to drive fast and hard, (though I still think 348 is the worst offender). Still, they are really cool cars and I still want them (not 348, I’d rather set that thing on fire for ruining my Ferrari dream).

gmonsen
gmonsen

I think its nice that some commenters here provide a sort of smug ignorance as counterpoint to the more knowledgeable folks. Thanks,