Ferrari 512 BB, where the BB stands for...Brigitte Bardot

An increase in displacement, but not in power, for the heir to the 365 GT4 BB which in its name hides a secret of Pulcinella, revealed in detail only in 2018.

Presented at the 1976 Paris Motor Show, in the heart of the oil crisis that characterized the seventies, the evolution of the mid-engined Gran Turismo presents minor aesthetic changes but great technical innovations to respond to new and increasingly demanding regulatory requirements and to make the engine more elastic.

The nomenclature is simplified with the figure 512, which indicates displacement and number of cylinders of the engine in a way that is completely similar to what happens in the little Dino, and the abbreviation BB is reconfirmed, which means Berlinetta Boxer.

Or at least in theory, because as the designer Leonardo Fioravanti states, the abbreviation BB also stands for Brigitte Bardot, a beautiful movie star.

The nickname was coined directly by Fioravanti, together with the designers Bellei and Scaglietti, since the three are literally in love with the car, and dedicating it to divine beauty becomes natural.

The abbreviation BB is also kept on a commercial level with the new meaning, but both Berlinetta and Boxer do not faithfully reflect the characteristics of this Gran Turismo.

From an aesthetic point of view, the car maintains the salient feature of the 365 GT4 BB: wedge-shaped line and very pronounced front overhang, in contrast to the truncated tail.

This combination highlights the sporty appearance of the car more.

The 512 BB changes and evolves in small details, all dictated by new technical-design requirements. A small spoiler appears at the front, on the lower part of the bumper, while the transparent colored front plastics are changed to amber components.

Major changes to the rear: the six circular headlights and six exhaust pipes are replaced by a more traditional configuration with four exhausts and two pairs of circular headlights, one on each side.

A sheet metal panel, equipped with slits, takes the place of the previous net allowing a better air vent from the engine area, the rear track increases in size and, right in front of the rear wheels, two small NACA sockets are inserted to better manage the air flows.

The five-spoke alloy wheels are reminiscent of a star, and are equipped with a wing nut, except for some markets where a single central octagonal nut was provided.

The frame, F 102 BB 100, is a classic tubular steel combined with a central monocoque, which acts as a cell. Independent suspension on all four wheels, wishbones, coil springs and hydraulic shock absorbers form the chassis. There is also an anti-roll bar on both axes.

The odd numbering of the nine hundred and twenty-nine copies made is also faithful to tradition: it starts from number 19.677 and arrives at 38.487.

The braking compartment consists of large ventilated discs, a double hydraulic circuit and servo assistance as standard.

The real novelty, however, is found under the rear hood: the new 4.943 cm³ engine.

Compared to the twelve-cylinder previously mounted on the 365 GT4 BB, the changes concern the bore and stroke dimensions (82x78 mm), dry lubrication, four triple-barrel carburettors and a power that has dropped to 340 horsepower, but with a value of higher torque which makes the car more drivable and appreciable.

The particular 180° configuration that makes this engine, F 102 B 000, a fake boxer from a technical point of view remains the same.

While not finding an official commercial outlet in the United States, due to anti-pollution regulations, the 512 BB has carved out a role for itself in the world of racing thanks to the initiative of Luigi Chinetti, historic Ferrari importer across the Atlantic.

The cars, aesthetically very different from the road versions, have never raced with the official team, however, driven by private teams, they obtained a victory at Le Mans in the IMSA category, as well as important absolute placings as in the two years 1981-1982.

In 1981 the Ferrari 512 BBi made its debut.

Once again the main component subject to changes is the engine and, once again, the cause is linked to increasingly stringent and demanding anti-pollution regulations. In this latest transformation, the 512 BB abandons carburettor power and is equipped with Bosch K-Jetronic injection, making the Gran Turismo more docile to drive.

At least in theory.

In fact, the car responds faithfully to the commands of the right foot but a good dose of experience is required to be satisfied and understand when it is the exact moment to lift your foot, otherwise, disaster is constantly around the corner.

In tight mixed conditions, to go really strong, it's a constant challenge with the mechanics because the front axle, as well as the rear, seem to lose grip at any moment, and therefore the driver must be a skilled tightrope walker much easier to play. and put it sideways but, even in this case, some practice is required.

The positioning of the engine gives a strong push in traction but tends to have a slightly understeer behavior, accompanied by a unique roar of its kind thanks to its constitution of a flat twelve-cylinder engine, an engine also adopted on the subsequent Testarossa.

The remarkable forward thrust of the twelve-cylinder is emphasized by the precision of the steering, which makes the car extremely responsive.

A car for true gentleman drivers.

This third series is distinguished by small aesthetic updates, such as body-colored mirrors, a new design of the same-sized alloy wheels on both axles and a new location of the flashing lights; and we must not forget that for the customer it is possible to choose whether to keep the iconic black band at the bottom of the car or have the bodywork completely in the same color.

In addition, both carriageways are increased and Michelin TRX tires are fitted as original equipment, while a new seat is presented internally, with a mixed wool and leather upholstery.

The 512 BBi, available in both right-hand and left-hand drive, was not officially imported into the North American market and was produced in 1007 units, from chassis number 38121 to 52935 until 1984, when its heir was ready to enter the myth: the Ferrari Testarossa.


Berlinetta, two seats

Rear engine

Rear-wheel Drive

Size and Weights

Length 4400 mm

Width 1830 mm

Height 1120 mm

Front track 1500 mm - 1508 mm BBi

Rear track 1563 mm - 1572 mm BBi

Step 2500 mm

Unladen weight 1400 Kg - 1499 Kg BBi

120 liter tank


Displacement 4943.04 cm³

Type 12V 180°, rear, longitudinal

Bore and stroke 82x78 mm

Compression ratio 9.2:1

Unit displacement 411.92 cm³

Double shaft distribution, two valves per cylinder

Weber 40 IF3C carburettors - Bosch K-Jetronic injection for BBi


Power 265 kW/360 hp at 6,800 rpm

Power250 kW/340 hp at 6.000 rpm for BBi

Specific power 73 hp/liter 54 kW/liter and 91 nm/liter

Specific power 69 hp/liter, 51kW/liter and 91 nm/liter for BBi

Torque 452 Nm at 4,600 rpm - 451 Nm at 4,200 rpm for BBi

Mono ignition, electronic

Dry sump lubrication

Two-plate clutch

Five-speed gearbox + RM


Tubular steel

Front independent suspension, wishbones, coaxial coil springs with telescopic shock absorbers, stabilizer bar

Independent rear suspension, transverse wishbones, coaxial coil springs with telescopic shock absorbers, stabilizer bar

Steering pinion and rack

Ventilated front disc brakes

Ventilated rear disc brakes

Front tires 215/70 - front 240/55 VR 415 for BBi

Rear tires 225/70 - rear 240/55 VR 415 for BBi

Rims 15"

Performance declared

Speed ​​302 Km/h - 280 Km/h for BBi

Acceleration from 0 to 400 meters in 13.7 seconds, from 0 to 1000 meters in 24.0 seconds, from 0 to 400 meters in 14.2 seconds, and from 0 to 1000 meters in 25.1 seconds for the BBi

Luca Saitta

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