Faced with having to pitch its Daytona front-engined model against the mid-engined Miura and Bora, Ferrari responded with the 365 GTB/4 Berlinetta Boxer in 1973. An entirely new car and the first road-going Ferrari not to have a “V” configuration engine, the Boxer used a 4.4-liter, four-cam, flat-12 derived from the 3-liter Formula 1. The mid-mounted engine/five-speed transaxle was housed in a tubular/monocoque chassis clothed in Pininfarina’s elegant Berlinetta coachwork. A new Boxer—the 512 BB—appeared in 1976 with a 4942-cc engine and dry sump. The larger engine provided a useful increase in torque, improving acceleration and driveability. Improvements were also made to the aerodynamics, suspension and tires. And in 1981 it was updated with fuel injection, becoming the 512 BBi.
The right-hand drive 512 BB pictured here boasts an engine built by Ferrari specialist Nigel Hudson and incorporating a host of improvements including LM cams, Mahle pistons, gas-flowed cylinder heads, sports exhaust, and re-jetted carburetors. A maximum 460 horsepower is claimed (approximately 120 more than standard) so a commensurate improvement in performance over the standard car may be expected. The work was carried out in the mid 1980s, after which the present owner purchased the car in 1984. Since then, the car has covered a mere 5,000 miles and only 12,000 total. Additional contemporary upgrades include AP brakes, oil cooler, competition clutch, Compomotive wheels and extended rear wheel arches. Believed accident free, it is in excellent mechanical condition with fair to good interior and benefits from a recent service and belt change. This Boxer has phenomenal performance, yet the vendor claims it is extremely tractable.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1979 Ferrari 512 BB Berlinetta Boxer
Years Produced:1974-84 (all types)
Number Produced:327 365 BB, 927 512 BB, 1,007 512 BBi
Original List Price:$35,000 plus DOT/EPA ($10,000-$15,000)
SCM Valuation:$55,000-$80,000 (BBi $60,000-$90,000)
Tune Up Cost:$3,000; add $2,000 for timing belts
Distributor Caps:$300
Chassis Number Location:On frame tube in engine bay
Engine Number Location:Top of engine block
Club Info:Ferrari Club of America, Box 720597, Atlanta, GA 30358; Ferrari Owners Club, 8642 Cleta St., Downey, CA 90241
Alternatives:Lamborghini Miura,Maserati Bora

On April 23rd, 2001, Bonhams & Brooks sold this Boxer for $39,200, including buyer’s premium, at the RAF Museum in Hendon, England.
How low can Boxers go? Ask the man who bought Lucent at $78 per share. When you review recent prices it is amazing, or distressing, depending on your ownership status, how much they have sunk. A very nice, 13,000-mile, injected Boxer sold at Bonhams & Brooks’s December 2000 auction in Switzerland for $44,800. For a car with so much mid-engined performance and aesthetic appeal, why the low price?
My theory is that it’s the risk associated with engine problems compared to the total price. For example, you can buy a ’60s collectible American car in the $30k to $50k range and if you assume a new engine at $3,000 to $5,000, your risk ratio is 0.1 to perhaps 0.2. As such, it’s not a catastrophe if your significant other wants to know why it sounds like there’s a can of walnuts rattling under the hood on her first ride.
For most 12-cylinder exotics, a rebuild starts at $20,000 and can go as high as $40,000. So for the $50,000 to $100,000 Italian exotic, the risk ratio is around 0.5. You can lose half your “investment” if your timing belt breaks. Thus, many buyers won’t take the risk of unknown mechanical condition on these expensive-to-fix 12-cylinder cars, unless they are such a bargain that lust overcomes logic.
Most of these auction exotics are not championed by a seller who has a notebook full of bills and photos detailing the history. For this Boxer, note the casual catalog statement about “a recent service and belt change.” That’s reassuring, assuming it was a $5,000 engine-out timing belt change. But what’s not reassuring is the description of all the hot-rod stuff done nearly 20 years ago. Imagine the kind of Ferrari owner who needs another 120 horsepower in his already-twitchy car, and puts flares on the rear wheel arches. Why do visions of spiky hair, nose rings and rock-star status come to mind? Would you buy a Ferrari from someone like this?
Many well-documented exotics, with only good stories, sell privately for far more than the examples that show up at auctions with no service history or documentation. The stack of repair bills and photos, backed by a believable owner, are worth real money and peace of mind. (At
Barrett-Jackson two years ago, there was a ’57 T-Bird owner who stayed with his car for all four days and could convincingly detail and prove everything that was done to it. He hit a home run on the price—it brought $44,500.)
Was this Boxer a good buy? Only time and a thorough mechanical evaluation will tell. But with all the surprises that could surface on this highly modified engine/chassis, this Boxer is either the most fun per dollar this year or a terrible sinkhole. However, as they say in real estate, “Price solves all problems.” When a running, driving Boxer gets below $40k, in Ferrari terms, that’s almost free. So for some brave bidder, the gamble was worth it.—John Apen
Caveat lector: The writer is just finishing a major, remove-the-engine service on his 365 Boxer, and has the following recommendations: for frequent driving, buy an injected BBi; for raw excitement, find a 365; for maximum value, buy a carbureted 512. But please, be aware that buying a Boxer without paperwork is akin to playing Russian Roulette with all the chambers loaded.
(Historic data and photo courtesy of auction company.)u

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