Ferrari 512 BB 1976
Ferrari launched its first mid-engine production car, the 365 GT4 BB, at the Turin Motor Show in 1971 as an answer to Lamborghini’s now-legendary Muira model. The letters “BB” in the new car’s title stood for “Berlinetta Boxer”, a reference to the car’s coupe body style and its horizontally-opposed “boxer” engine; the pistons of each cylinder bank were positioned exactly opposite of each other on a flat plane.
The 365 GT4 BB started delivery in 1973, but was not well received in the marketplace. So, just three years later, Ferrari produced an evolved version of the car called the 512 BB.
The major change was an engine that was enlarged by 600 cc, giving it 5.0 liters in displacement (the name 512 refers to the engine, a 5.0-liter, 12-cylinder). It pumped out 355 HP, which was actually 19 HP less than the 365 GT4 BB’s power plant, while torque was 28.9 ft-lb higher at 332.7 ft-lb.
The 512 BB featured a steel tube space frame; the body was composed of steel, aluminum and reinforced fiberglass. The car’s svelte shape was panned by both Pininfarina and Scaglietti. Ferrari claimed both the 365 and 512 had an official top speed of 187 mph, a response to the 186 mph top speed of the Lamborghini Countach.
There was a major supercar boom in Japan at the time, and popularity was split roughly 50/50 between the 512 BB and the Countach; making them fierce rivals in the Japanese marketplace as well as the world stage.