1980 Ferrari 512 BB/LM

The only concern of the Porsche drivers was that they stay well clear of the 512s. The handling of the three overweight Ferraris was as diabolical as anything that had ever emerged from Maranello

Ferrari’s opposed 12-cylinder Formula One technology worked its way into the production lineup in 1971 with the introduction of the 365 Berlinetta Boxer. A super high performance mid-engined berlinetta for Ferrari’s most performance-oriented clients, production of the 365 GT4/BB began in 1974. Ferrari made no attempt, however, to develop a GT racing version of the Boxer.

Thus, in 1976 there were no Ferraris on the starting grid for the 24 hours of Le Mans for the first time since the Sarthe classic resumed after World War II. Several clients picked up where Ferrari left off, developing GT versions of the 365 GT4/BB. In 1977 one won its class at Le Mans, entered by Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing Team. The 365’s days were numbered, however, by the introduction of the five-liter 512 BB.

The Ferrari factory recognized the market for IMSA class racing cars and began to develop a race-prepared, but still largely stock version of the 512 BB through its Assistenza Clienti department. Three were delivered in 1978 but all failed to finish at Le Mans. Development took on a new urgency at Ferrari and for 1979 a series of “silhouette” 512 BBs were built.

The accepted model designation, 512 BB/LM left no doubt about Ferrari’s intention. These cars were aimed at Le Mans and they benefited from completely new lightweight bodywork developed in Pininfarina’s wind tunnel. With dramatically re-shaped and lengthened bodies, wide wheels and tires, a rear wing, and weight reduced to some 1,100 kg the 512 BB/LMs were capable of a 200 miles per hour top speed.

After the 1979 season’s experience and development, a series of further-developed 512 BB/LMs were built for 1980 benefiting from the hard-earned lessons of a year’s competition. These “Series II” 512 BB/LMs had 500 horsepower, further refined bodywork, and shed another 100 kg.

The car offered here, chassis number 30559, is the first of the 1980 512 BB/LM Series IIs and the 14th of only 29 built. Delivered to Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing Team in May 1980, it was entered by NART in the 1980 Le Mans 24 hours. An engine problem in qualifying kept it from starting, but it returned to Le Mans in 1982 where it suffered an engine failure during the third hour.

Presented in good, original condition, the car is offered with a quantity of spares, an excellent opportunity to acquire an important part of Ferrari racing history at a reasonable price.

Thor Thorson

Thor Thorson - SCM Contributing Editor

Thor grew up in northern Iowa. His father bought a red Jag XK 150 in the late 1950s, and that was all it took; he has been in love with sports cars , racing cars and the associated adrenaline rush ever since. He has vintage raced for more than 20 years, the bulk of them spent behind the wheel of a blue Elva 7. When he’s not racing, he is president of Vintage Racing Motors Inc., a collector-car dealer and vintage-racing support company based in Redmond, WA. His knowledge runs the full spectrum of vintage racing, and he has put that expertise to good use for SCM since 2003.

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