Ferrari 365 GT/4 BB, the constant technical challenge of the Maranello company

We are in 1971, and the Maranello-based company, on the wave of recent successes in Formula One, wants to launch the heir of the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona on the market. The sports coupes are the flagship model of Ferrari, and thus the phantom BB series is created which, in addition to meaning Berlinetta Boxer, are also the initials of the code name of the project: Brigitte Bardot.

The first model of the new flagship series is represented by the 365 GT/4 BB.

The choice of a similar name tends to minimize the total technical diversity of the previous models, equipped with a front engine.

With the start of the BB Series, Enzo Ferrari had to give up one of its historic characteristics, which wanted the engine placed in the front part of the car, even if, in reality, some models prior to 1971 were already conceived according to the central-rear arrangement to mean that this idea was no longer an advantageous solution for a sports coupe.

In spite of the name, however, the engine is not a real Boxer, but a V-shaped engine, with 180° banks, since the connecting rods are mounted in pairs on the same support; a constructive solution, typical of V-shaped engines, while the Boxer uses a single support for each connecting rod, as in in-line engines.

This engine, called F102 AB 00, features wet sump lubrication, power supplied by four Weber 40 IF3C carburettors, a maximum power of 380 horsepower at 7.700 rpm, and a maximum torque of 409 Nm at 3.900 rpm. , capable of making the car whiz from 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.4 seconds, while from 100 to 200 km/h it takes only 12.8 seconds, with a top speed of 302 km/h.

During the production period, this performance makes the Ferrari 365 GT/4 BB one of the fastest cars in the world. All this, assisted by a self-locking differential, and a five-speed transmission, mounted under the engine and near the oil radiators, which complete the refined technical and mechanical framework.

The 365 GT/4 BB features a frame typical of the sportiest Ferraris, with a central trellis and independent wheel suspension, with overlapping triangles, and is equipped with four self-ventilated hardened steel disc brakes, as well as a rack and pinion steering.

The design, on the other hand, is born between the close synergy of Leonardo Fioravanti, historical designer of Pininfarina, and Sergio Scaglietti, who create a modern sporty line, but at the same time very elegant.

The car is equipped at the front with double retractable headlights, and a characteristic white plastic cover, which hides the position lights and the front position indicators, keeping the nose clean and streamlined.

The wraparound-integrated bumpers with matte black color, are joined in the two-tone side, in which the lower part is also matte black, giving a clean and fluid line; while the bodywork is entirely developed on the two large hoods, which include the fenders and support the bumpers.

In fact, the car has a passenger compartment consisting of two doors, while all the rest consists of two large front and rear bonnets, with the characteristic wide opening to the outside.

The car is also immediately recognizable from the rear, thanks to the use of six light clusters and as many tailpipes, details that represent a unique feature throughout the Ferrari production, and even more so on this model.

Initially presented in 1971, this model represents an entirely new project, and for Ferrari it represented, and will represent, a great technical challenge.

In fact, the great oil crisis of '73, the same year in which production of the model was started, soon led to a review of the Reds' plans, given that sports cars soon began to be considered immoral in the new economic-social context (some thought it was even necessary to prevent its production).

As if that were not enough, the subsequent increase in the cost of fuel will push the manufacturers to reduce the consumption of their models.

The new cultural and political demands will lead, within a few years, to a greater awareness from the environmental point of view, and a higher awareness of the problems of pollution.

With this in mind, the United States, starting from 1974, introduced severe anti-pollution legislation, forcing many car manufacturers to intervene heavily on engine design.

The House of the Prancing Horse must therefore adapt to the new regulations, presenting the Ferrari 512 BB at the 1976 Geneva Motor Show.

In terms of aesthetics, the car is very similar to the previous model, being essentially an evolution, while the mechanics only make some changes to control emissions, consumption, and the overall driveability of the car.

As for the design, it denotes the appearance of a small wing, the widening of the rear fenders, and the adoption of modified grilles on the engine hood.

In addition, two small air intakes are introduced, located in the lower part of the NACA-type side, and the designers decide to eliminate a pair of rear lights and tailpipes, which drop from six to four.

The yellow plastics in the lights, previously present on the bonnet, are also eliminated.

All these changes, made on the car, will be applied only for functional reasons: in fact, the adoption of wider tires, aimed at increasing road holding, will make it necessary to widen the mudguards, while the grilles on the bonnet and the d air NACA, will allow to better cool the mechanics and cockpit of the BB.

As for the mechanics, the displacement will be increased to 4,942 cm³, but the power will drop to 360 horsepower, with a rotation of 6.800 rpm, and maximum torque will drop 409 Nm at 4.300 rpm.

As a result, top speed will also be affected, limited to just 295 km/h.

However, in the face of a slight loss of power, the 512 BB will benefit from better driveability, and an increase in torque at low revs, as well as an improvement in the delivery of the latter, more fluid and less sudden than the previous model.

Due to increasingly stringent regulations, the third and last car of the BB series, the Ferrari 12 BBi, will be built in 1981.

The changes, compared to the previous model, mainly concern the engine, which is replaced by the four Weber Triple Body carburettors, with a Bosch K-Jetronic injection system.

The adoption of electronic fuel injection will guarantee compliance with the increasingly stringent regulations, further softening the character of the flat 12-cylinder from Maranello, with the power that dropped from 360 Hp to just 340 Hp, at a speed of 6,000 rpm. minute, while the maximum torque will remain stationary at 451 Nm, but already available at 2000 rpm.

The declared maximum speed will drop to 283 Km/h, and in addition to the new power supply, the 512 BBi will stand out for the adoption of Michelin TRX tires, of equal size on both axles, and the separation of the front fog lights from the front grille, as well as new interior trim, and new instrumentation graphics.

In total, just over 2.000 of the BB series will be built: three hundred and eighty-seven for the 365 GT/4 BB, nine hundred and twenty-nine for the 512 BB, and a full one thousand and seven for the 512 BBi, before being replaced with the glorious Ferrari Testarossa.

In the winter of 1974, the US NART - North American Racing Team), will develop a 365 GT4 BB to compete in the North American classics, such as the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring the following season, entering them in the IMSA GTX category, very similar to the FIA ​​Group 5, but with slightly higher performance.

A second specimen will be developed to race at the 1975 24 Hours of Le Mans, but will not compete, as the team owner will withdraw all cars from the race, in protest following the failure to pass the pre-race checks of one of the car of the stable.

In 1978, the Maranello-based car manufacturer decided to personally build the 365 BBs for Group 5, officially naming them 512 BB/LM.

Three examples will be assembled, which will be sold to some customer teams, who will also be provided with assistance for a fourth car.

This first series still retains a strong aesthetic resemblance to the road car, but the Maranello company, not satisfied with the withdrawal of all the BBs at the 1978 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, heavily intervenes on the project.

Thus, the second series features an engine equipped with injection instead of carburetors, and a completely different and much longer bodywork, studied in the wind tunnel by Pininfarina, in compliance with the regulations, which allows only the lines of the passenger compartment to be preserved. of the road car.

Of this new model, Ferrari makes nine examples.

Sixteen instead, will be the specimens of the third series, made between the beginning of 1980 and 1982, which will present technical refinements compared to the previous models.


Model 365 GT/4 BB

Rear engine, longitudinal, 12V 180 °

Bore and stroke 81x71 mm

Unit displacement 365.86 cm³

Total displacement 4390.35 cm³

Compression ratio 8.8: 1

Maximum power 265 kW (360 hp) at 7500 rpm

Specific power 82Cv / liter

Maximum torque 451 Nm at 3,900 rpm

Double shaft distribution, 2 valves per cylinder

Feeding 4 Weber 40 IF3C carburettors

Fuel tank capacity 120 liters

Mono ignition, electronic

Wet sump lubrication

Single plate clutch

Five-speed gearbox + RM


Tubular steel frame

Independent front suspension, wishbones, coaxial coil springs with telescopic shock absorbers, anti-roll bar

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

Steering pinion and rack

Car body

Berlinetta, two seats

Length 4360 mm

Width 1800 mm

Height 1120 mm

Step 2500 mm

Front track 1500 mm

Rear track 1500 mm

Weight 1160 kg when empty

Disk brakes

215/70 VR 15 front tires

215/70 VR 15 rear tires

Model 512 BB

Rear engine, longitudinal, V12 180°

Bore and stroke 82x78 mm

Unit displacement 411.92 cm³

Total displacement 4943.04 cm³

Compression ratio 9.2:1

Maximum power 265 kW (360 hp) at 6800 rpm

Specific power 73 hp/liter

Double shaft distribution, two valves per cylinder

Powered by four Weber 40 IF3C carburettors

Mono ignition, electronic

Dry sump lubrication

Two-plate clutch

Car body

Width 1830 mm

Height 1120 mm

Step 2500 mm

Front track 1500 mm

Rear track 1563 mm

Weight 1400 kg when empty

Andrea Rasponi