- One of just 144 examples produced for the model year
- Finished in Nero over tan upholstery
- 335 hp, 4.9-liter flat-12 engine; five-speed manual transmission
- Grey-market example; imported new to California and federalized
- Presently indicates fewer than 33,800 km (~21,000 mi)
- Benefits from over $14,000 in recent mechanical recommissioning
In 1981, Ferrari added fuel injection to the 4.9-liter, horizontally opposed 12-cylinder engine that powered their top-of-the-range 512 BB model, resulting in the more advanced—and newly renamed—512 BBi. The change from carburetors to fuel injection brought about an increase of 20 foot-pounds of torque, helping the engine to feel much more tractable overall. Performance remained extraordinary, and the 512 BBi could reach 60 mph from a dead start in just 5.4 seconds; furthermore, it was capable of a top speed of 173 mph. It was the “flagship” Ferrari while in production and easily lived up to the supercar requirements of the era.
According to several later interviews with chief Pininfarina stylist Leonardo Fioravanti, the car’s “BB” model name was not originally an abbreviation of the phrase “Berlinetta Boxer”, but rather an ode to the favorite starlet of Fioravanti’s design team—Brigette Bardot. Ferrari repurposed the initials during later marketing despite obvious flaws—as the 512 BBi is neither a true Berlinetta nor boxer-powered. Regardless, just 1,007 examples of the BBi version were made through the end of the model’s production run in 1984; toward the end, the manufacturer eased the process of bringing cars to the United States by arranging for direct deliveries in Europe that would then segue to federalization by an approved modifier in America. Examples from the final year of production are particularly sought-after, as Ferrari only produced approximately 144 cars in total.
The 512 BBi’s driver-focused cabin design is perhaps the perfect distillation of supercar design; the high-visibility Veglia Borletti instrumentation—each pod slightly canted towards the driver—give notice of all important metrics with their neon orange simplicity. The small-diameter Momo steering wheel gives ample sense of surety and road feel, while Ferrari’s classic gated manual transmission provides all the pleasant, mechanical sensation of executing perfect gear changes as the mighty V-12 screams toward redline, just inches behind the cabin.
ONE OF 144
This desirable final-year example, chassis 51073, is finished in Nero over tan leather upholstery. An importation placard mounted on the car testifies that it was imported from Maranello when new and federalized by a licensed agent in California. The car is believed to have resided within California ownership since new, and the last mileage notation on its vehicle record indicates that it this carefully preserved 512 BBi has traveled just shy of 900 kilometers (~560 miles) since December 2000. At some point between late 2001 and 2003, the car was placed into static storage—where it remained until acquisition by the consignor during the summer of 2020.
Upon acquisition, the consignor immediately enlisted Scuderia Performante of Malvern, Pennsylvania to perform over $14,000 in mechanical recommissioning. The car’s entire fuel delivery and injection systems were completely replaced with new components. Upon fitment of all the new components and testing, the system was carefully adjusted for ideal operation and emissions compliance. The braking system received a full flush and rebuilds to all four of the car’s original brake calipers; a new battery was also fitted at this time.
As presented today, this 512 BBi retains many of its factory-correct finishes throughout, including its Nero paintwork, tan Daytona-pattern upholstery, Pioneer audio system with equalizer, Cibie foglamps, and Vitaloni mirrors. The car’s correct center-mount wheels and Michelin TRX tires are yet another authentic complement to its low stated mileage. Interestingly, at some point under previous ownership, the exhaust manifolds of the car’s numbers-matching V-12 were coated with bright red enamel—an aesthetically pleasing, if not factory-correct, choice.
Ferrari knew that craftsmanship, engineering, and design counted for more than anything else. At the time of 512 BBi production, robots were poised to take over from the hands-on approach, at least in large part. Sergio Scaglietti, whose firm made the bodies, noted, “It was something special. It was the last car where we made everything by hand.” We could not agree more.