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Car Tales: Berlinetta Boxer, A Supercar Named Brigitte Bardot

‘Precisely why was that stunning example of Italian craftsmanship known as the Ferrari 512 BBi Berlinetta Boxer so named? After all, Mauro Forghieri, the enormously accomplished engineer on the project, stated clearly that the beautifully constructed supercar did not have a Boxer engine. 
1984 Ferrari 512BBi Berlinetta Boxer
‘And that the car, which could hit 179mph, maybe should have been called a Berlinetta Bialbero, a reference to its dual camshaft. 

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‘But that is a highly prosaic explanation when contrasted with that of the legendary Leonardo Fioravanti, who masterfully designed the car. (In 2017 Fioravanti would be awarded the International Historic Motor Award Lifetime Achievement Award by Octane magazine.) Fioravanti asserted that he and others involved with the car’s design were so taken by this beautiful vehicle that they would refer to it as ‘Brigitte Bardot’, the gorgeous French actress. In turn, this nickname became reduced to ‘BB’. But before the model was first introduced at the 1971 Turin Auto Show, Ferrari officials came up with the Berlinetta Boxer tag – with true Italian machismo the company found it inconceivable to name one of their vehicles after a woman!
1984 Ferrari 512BBi Berlinetta Boxer-side
‘The Bosch K-Jetronic CIS fuel-injected Ferrari 512 BBi introduced in 1981 was the last of the series: the fuel-injected car produced cleaner emissions and offered a better balance of performance and drivability. 
‘Differences from the 512 BB included a change to metric-sized wheels and the Michelin TRX metric tire system; small white running lights in the nose grill; and red rear fog lamps. A total of 1,007 Ferrari 512 BBi models were produced.
‘And right now at Beverly Hills Car Club we have a fine example of one of these, an extremely sought-after 1984 Ferrari 512 BBi Berlinetta Boxer – the last year they were manufactured – with only 11,321 miles on the odometer. It comes in the timeless color combination of Rosso Corsa with a sand beige interior. This Berlinetta Boxer comes with a clean Carfax and is equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission, strong running fuel-injected Flat 12 Cylinder engine, MOMO steering wheel, air conditioning, power windows, and 4-wheel disc brakes. Also included are service documents and receipts totaling over $17,000. Here is an excellent opportunity to jump into the ownership of such an amazing and excellent sports car that is mechanically sound.
‘The Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer was a sports car produced in Italy by Ferrari between 1973 and 1984. It replaced the front-engined Daytona, and was the first in a series of Ferraris to employ a mid-mounted flat-twelve engine. It was also the first Ferrari to feature the prancing horse logo: the rearing black horse on a yellow background with the colors of the Italian flag horizontally above it.
1984 Ferrari 512BBi Berlinetta Boxer engine
‘An enduring symbol for Ferrari, initially employed as a tribute to Count Francesco Baratta, an Italian World War I flying ace who would paint such a symbol on the side of his planes.
‘Eventually the Berlinetta Boxer was replaced by the Ferrari Testarossa, which continued to use the flat-twelve engine. But the final statement of the Berlinetta Boxer family arrived at the 1981 Frankfurt Auto Show with the 512 BBi, as in ‘i’ for ‘injection.’ The Bosch fuel-injected 512 was the culmination of all Ferrari had learned from its boxer cars, and the vehicles were optimized for emissions – as optimized as early 1980s Ferraris could be.
Driving a 1984 Ferrari 512BBi Berlinetta Boxer
‘When BB production ended in 1984, with it went the last links to the old-school Italian way of building Ferraris – entirely by hand. The car’s low profile and the longitudinally mounted, horizontally opposed engine were well suited. And the 512 BBi was also extremely fast.
‘But for buyers in the USA – always Ferrari’s greatest market – there was a small problem. The Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer 512 BBi did not comply with U.S. or Canadian safety and emissions regulations. (And let’s not mention the 55mph national speed limit that had been introduced in 1974, a response by President Nixon to the then fuel crisis, a law that would not be amended until 1995.)
1984 Ferrari 512BBi Berlinetta Boxer interior
‘Accordingly, both individual buyers and/or authorized Ferrari dealers would pay extra to modify their motors to match United States Environmental Protection Agency and United States Department of Transportation rules. Which was precisely how the 512 BBi was allowed onto U.S. roads.
‘Meanwhile, its successor, the Ferrari Testarossa, would come off the Italian production line modified for the US market. Now, of course, American federal law exempts vehicles older than 25 years from all design, safety, and emission regulations.
Which means…Happy motoring!
-Alex Manos, Owner
Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer Buyer Alex Manos

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