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

A Ferrari 512 BBi Is A Car To Drift On Track

By Petrolicious Productions
June 18, 2015
14 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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eric-gonsalves
eric-gonsalves
1 year ago

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Izzo Altomare
Izzo Altomare
5 years ago

Gorgeous Petrolicious!

Eba Normaalne
Eba Normaalne
6 years ago

i would megasquirt it

Nick Holbrook
Nick Holbrook
6 years ago

“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
6 years ago

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, and yet they still will wilt on track.

Now take a BB. You actualy have to know how to operate a machine, and have driving skills to use one. They are truly terrible in any traffic, and the Ac is essentialy nonexistent. This limits the driver pool.

But get one of these cars on a big open road and they are truly sublime. What makes them painful in traffic is that in feel height and size they are not too far from a civilized track car, a streetable canm am car from the 70s. On the right day on the right road they are just sublime, few cars are able to flow and get in synch with a road and driver like a BBI.

I thought the video anlysis of the driving dynamics was pretty spot on, they are very reactive cars, like an aircooled 911, and they will punish the hamfisted quickly, with as the video says the front or the rear fighing the edge and little space in between.Theya re so sensitive that a few psi difference in tire pressure alters the basic feel.

As to speed, nick masons BBLM was faster than his F40 around a track, same track same day same driver. A BBlm is the same basic suspension as an BB, just more power and somewhat less weight.

Most BBs around drive liek crap, they ahve old tires and worn suspesion, being 30 years old but not necessarily restored. Like any good race car, they need to be setup properly.

The flaw of a BB as from the factory is the tires and enzos refusal to fit more modern low profile tires, the bendy sidewalls wortking against the car and creating snap dynamics on the limit. The stock tires which are really designed for a BMW sedan also require a pretty stupid alignment setup to be slightly benign, they also need over 40psi to be stiff enough to handle..

Fit modern rubber even in a high profile, I run 17 in wheels and the car is transformed. the chassis really is good, at elast on street. On track compared to a modern its lacking, essentialy faster than a 355 slower than a 360, well quicker out of bends than a 360 but slower in and slower accleration above 120. On street the torque works for you.

on a recent club outing which was mostly backroads, the BB had no problem keeping pace and setting pace with the moderns. yes I had to work harder, but that made it fun and angaging for me, whereas the 458 guys were monitorign systems and suggesting to the computer what they woudl like the car to do.
Unless your street drives involve speeds above 150mph, you simply are npot going faster in a modern, and you wont have as much fun.
Two years ago, taking the BBi to dealer to test drive a Mp12 458 and Gt3. There is one bend on the parkway, in the BBi you have to think ahead, select the right gear , blip and engae engage as you brake before enty, get your entry right and ooze in the power and then flatten the pedal after the apex and slect the next gear as you get straight. Lets say its 90 entry and a 125mph exit corner. In the Mp12 and 458 the same speed was ho hum irrelevant, might as well have been tapping a keyboard..The only modern that was fun was the 997 Gt3 because it was still engaging.

if you want a fast engagng car, full of occasion, something that will require all you have to perform, somehting that can embarras the average exotic owner on a twisty, something for the sunday drive, pretty hard to beat a boxer, unless you hve the scratch for a 288..

A boxer is a car also designed before legislation dictated design, ie its pure shape and execution.

Dennis Cavallino
Dennis Cavallino
7 years ago

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 of this footage? 🙂 Please show it, that’s how an MR really drives. It’ll sometimes bite.

Ian Miles
Ian Miles
7 years ago

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

Jens VonBulow
Jens VonBulow
7 years ago

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
4 years ago
Reply to  Jens VonBulow

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.

Peter Dawidowski
Peter Dawidowski
7 years ago

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
7 years ago

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
7 years ago

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 . The only classic Ferrari I find even less satisfying to drive [ not to mention despising its looks ] is the other car in question : the dreaded Testarossa . Both in my opinion being thoroughly disappointing both on the road as well as the track . Neither by the way selling well at all when new due to the fact that I’m far from the only person thats held to that opinion . Fact is both cars only came into their own once attaining the dreaded ‘ Collectable ‘ status [ the Testarossa only after it wound up a regular on ” Miami Vice ” ] Becoming ‘ collectable ‘ [ and the ” Miami Vice ” bump ] suddenly and miraculously overwhelming all the hideous shortcomings of both cars

So I’ll close by saying I’m glad you enjoyed the experience but trust me . There’s a lot better in the way of classic Ferrari’s to be driving than the less than Dynamic Duo of the BB’s / Testarossa .

JB21
JB21
7 years ago
Reply to  Guitar Slinger

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
5 years ago
Reply to  Guitar Slinger

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