A serious, high-speed missile which rewards the serious pilot and frustrates the casual driver
The all-new 365 GT4 BB appeared on the world stage at the 1971 Turin Motor Show and received a rapturous reception. Of monocoque/tubular steel construction, it featured a mid-mounted, flat-12 engine derived directly from Ferrari's sports prototype program.
Pininfarina clothed the state-of-the-art mechanical package in a sleek yet uncluttered berlinetta body carrying trademark black lower panels. Not only did the Boxer have six rear lights, but six exhaust pipes too-one-upmanship as only the Italians know how.
Mid-1976 saw the 365 Boxer replaced by the evolutionary 512, but to many the 365 remains the definitive Berlinetta Boxer, despite-or perhaps because of-its raw and uncompromising feel.
S/N 17751 is one of the earliest Boxers made and was built for a VIP motoring connoisseur par excellence, King Hussein of Jordan. Along with the Shah of Iran, King Hussein was one of the great patrons of European luxury car manufacturers during the era, and most carmakers were keen to ensure he received one of the first examples of any important new model.
Finished in a fashionable shade of light red known as "Rosso Dino," over an unusual combination of beige cloth and black leather for the interior (which was only available on very early examples), factory records show S/N 17751 was sold directly to His Royal Highness. The 365 GT4 BB Boxer was flown to the Royal Palace in Amman from Venice's Marco Polo Airport in April 1974, having been completed at Maranello in the preceding month.
How long the King retained his shiny new supercar is not known, but he cannot have covered much distance with it, as 30 years after delivery the odometer reads just 6,152 km. This makes it perhaps the lowest-mileage 365 GT4 BB extant. In German ownership since 1993, the car is described as being in #1 condition and is offered complete with owner's handbook, service book, spare parts catalog, sales and service agent's booklet, and tool kit.
|1974 Ferrari 365 GT4 BB Boxer
|Original List Price:
|$35,000 (plus $10,000-$15,000 for DOT/EPA complian
|Tune Up Cost:
|$3,000; add $2,000 for timing belts
|Chassis Number Location:
|on frame tube in engine bay
|Engine Number Location:
|top of block
|Ferrari Club of America, Box 720597, Atlanta, GA 30358
|1966-72 Lamborghini Miura, 1971-80 Maserati Bora, 1968-73 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona
This 1974 Ferrari 365 GT4 BB Boxer sold for $159,531 at Bonhams’ Gstaad sale held Dec. 18, 2004.
At the 1965 Salone di Torino, Ferruccio Lamborghini stood the automotive world on its ear by introducing a highly advanced chassis featuring an outrageous, transversely mounted V12 engine. Lamborghini dressed the car in an haute couture body and the legendary Miura was born.
Three years later, Ferrari introduced its next flagship model, the 365 GTB/4 Daytona. While this was a significant car and a worthy successor to Ferrari’s previous models, the Daytona lacked the imagination of the Miura. Ferrari would have to raise the bar to fight in the Miura’s ring.
DeTomaso, Lotus, and a handful of other manufacturers had introduced mid-engine sports cars in the 1960s, and even Ferrari had built the mid-engined V6 Dino. But it would not be until the next decade that Ferrari would answer the Miura’s shot with the 365 GT4 BB. The low-profile Boxer was the personification of Pininfarina elegance, a classy woman in contrast to Lamborghini’s sexy runway model. The Boxer was immediately accepted by both the press and Ferrari’s customers, bringing much-needed sales orders back to Maranello.
Ferrari believed it would not be cost-effective to build a Boxer that would meet U.S. safety and emission standards, and it never did-even as the 365 GT4 evolved into the 512 BB and the 512 BBi. This forbidden aspect initially enhanced the Boxer’s mystique on our shores, and buyers lusted after them. Industrious shops led by Dick Fritz of Amerispec found the Boxer could be modified to meet Federal regs, and customers were more than willing to pay for the service.
Later, however, the gray market status of the Boxer and high production numbers for the 512 models conspired to relegate this impressive machine to second-class status in the Ferrari world.
Starting up a Boxer is like throwing a match on gasoline. At first, there is nothing as the engine turns over slowly, the starter struggling against compression. Then comes the “woof” as the engine
explodes to life with a roar, almost as if all twelve cylinders are firing at once. This is followed by a little poof of exhaust smoke before things settle down.
Driving the Boxer is not for the timid. It is not a light-hearted sports car, but a serious, high-speed missile which demands attention, rewarding the serious pilot and frustrating the casual driver. A rather high first gear and a somewhat finicky clutch
necessitate a delicate yet deliberate launch. Once on the move, the heavy controls remind you that 65-mph touring was not in Ferrari’s design criteria in the 1970s. Thirty minutes in a Boxer challenges your skills and thrills your every sense, but an hour behind the wheel makes you yearn for home.
If you’re looking to purchase a Boxer, it is crucial to get a copy of the EPA and DOT “release” papers with your purchase. A non-complying example may be impossible to register and is legally considered contraband, subject to U.S. Customs confiscation and, in the worst case, either exportation or crushing.
This has tended to make the market for both the 365 Boxer and the later 512 models a little fickle. Besides legalization issues, currency exchange considerations and typical market flutters have sent values from $50,000 to $250,000 and back down again over the years.
In a soft market, drivability issues and impressive new Ferrari models have lured buyers away from the Boxer. When the market is booming, however, buyers choose collectibility over practically. The exclusivity of the original 365 Boxer compared to later models (387 built versus about a thousand for each of the 512 models), as well as its performance and heritage, make it a desirable target as the market at large trends upwards.
While these conditions have shored up the 365 market at about $65,000-$85,000, keep in mind that engine rebuilds are a $20,000-and-up proposition that will continue to scare away many potential owners until values go back up into the six-figure range. “Buy low, sell high” is never as simple as it seems.
That the 1974 Ferrari 365 GT4 BB Boxer pictured here sold for $159k is certainly not indicative of the market at large, but more reflects this car’s ultra-low miles, royal heritage, and excellent condition. The Hussein Boxer is arguably the best, and thereby most valuable, non-competition Boxer in the world, and its provenance should make it a star in any collection. In other words, price aside, at least the buyer here bought the right car. Even at nearly twice the high end of the SCM Price Guide, I’d be willing to call this a good buy.
(Descriptive information courtesy of the auction company.)