The Berlinetta Boxer (BB) series produced by Ferrari from 1973 to 1984 marked a major policy shift at Maranello. Much like another autocratic automobile supremo before him — Henry Ford — Enzo Ferrari could stubbornly refuse to sanction a progressive move. So it had been with the thorny question of mid-engined road cars. Even after Ferrari had been forced to introduce mid-engined race cars to remain competitive on the track, Enzo stubbornly clung to the belief that mere mortals would be unable to handle such high-strung thoroughbreds on the road.
His engineers had long tried to persuade II Commendatore to relax this unbending stance, and managed a partial victory when he agreed that lesser Dino road cars could use the controversial layout. But the new Ferrari Daytona launched in 1968 had the traditional front-engine configuration and it was not until 1971 that Enzo finally gave in and allowed the 365 GT4 BB to be shown at Turin. It shared a designation with the Daytona, but was completely different. Further refinement meant that this angular wedge with pop-up headlamps designed by Pininfarina did not go into production until 1973 and just 387 were built, making it the rarest and most desirable of Berlinetta Boxers. It was also the fastest.
In 1976 the 512 BB replaced the 365, borrowing the name of the 512 racecar discontinued in 1970. The engine was slightly larger and there were minor external differences like a new front spoiler, side air vents and a remodelled rear lamp cluster. There were 929 512s built in six years. The final Berlinetta Boxer appeared in 1981. The fuel-injected 512i BB was the most successful of the series commercially, with over a thousand produced before the BB series was superseded by the famous Ferrari Testarossa.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1973 (until 1984)
4,390 cc or 4,942 cc Flat 12
365 GT4 BB – top speed of 181 mph (291 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 5.4 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Ironically in view of Enzo Ferrari’s long-held objections to producing a mid-engined road car – based on the assumption that customers would find such a machine too hot to handle – his engineers had been right all along… the 365 GT4 BB was voted the sweetest-ever road going Ferrari by the motoring press.