SOLD 04/24

1978 Ferrari
512 BB

Ferraris late 70’s flagship model, from long term California ownership, recent $47k in mechanical work.

  • VINF102BB25525
  • Exterior ColorRed over Black boxer-scheme
  • Interior ColorBlack leather
  • Mileage5573 Kilometers
  • Engine5L flat 12-cylinder
  • Transmission5-speed manual transaxle
  • StatusSold
  • StockFJ2818


1978 Ferrari 512 BB
s/n F102BB25525
Red with Black Interior

Ferrari has always been a leader in high-performance engineering and design. Although many of their most innovative ideas were often plagued with internal struggle, the combined passion and stubbornness frequently yielded something glorious. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the launch of the first 12-cylinder mid-engine Ferrari. Challenged by the rapidly evolving sports car market, Lamborghini stunned the world with the Miura, forcing Ferrari to enter the arena with a mid-engine offering in defense of their reign. In 1971 with the introduction of the 365 GT/4 BB and subsequent production model released in 1973, it was clear that this car would significantly change the future of the Ferrari brand, greatly influencing offerings yet to come.

The Leonardo Fioravanti designed Ferrari 365 captured an innovative, fresh design derived from the earlier 1968 show car. Having penned many of Ferrari's most celebrated cars including the Daytona, the Dino, and 308, the clamshell front/rear bonnets, angular but softened fender lines, and impressively wide stance made for a stunning and modern design. By 1976 the engine was updated to the 512, adding to the sublime Flat-12 engine power and delivery. Surprisingly the term BB, long referred to as Berlinetta Boxer, was not the original named intent. Ferrari engineer Mauro Forghieri suggests that the name association was the assumption of motorsports journalists when in fact it was designated Berlinetta Bialbero or dual camshaft. In either case, the BB moniker remains today as one of the most desirable Ferraris with growing interest in superbly preserved low mile examples boasting known histories and consummate mechanical care.

This beautiful and rare 512 BB is one of just 921 cars constructed from 1976-1981. Because Ferrari 512 BB models were not constructed for import to meet US specifications, a conversion process developed with specialty shops for what would become known as Grey Market cars (1976-1988). This process was established to convert European specification cars for American use in compliance with federal regulations. Cost for this was significant, up to $15k for the 512 BB. This example was imported to the US and has remained under current ownership since the 1980s. In 1988, this Ferrari was federalized with EPA certification at Olivia Conversion Inc., Los Angeles, CA, completed 9-26-1988. An embossed label bearing the name of the current consigning and titled owner is affixed to the inner door panel of the car confirming this process along with a dated emissions compliance label affixed to the front radiator support in the engine compartment. This label confirms the emissions equipment installed. As part of the conversion, the speedometer was replaced with a mph spec unit. US federalized conversions also included exhaust system changes, engine management updates, different seat belts, and changes to exterior lighting.

Under current ownership, this Ferrari remained licensed and titled in California, but as two-year emissions cycles persisted, in 2007, the current owner transferred title and registration to his Idaho address. Under current ownership the car was professionally repainted for cosmetic reasons only. Although current ownership dates back to the 1980s, records retained with the car date back to 2009 including an estimate for repaint and finishing in 2009 and a 2013 invoice from Fast Cars Ltd., Redondo Beach, CA including a 30k engine-out service, carburetor rebuilds, new clutch slave cylinder, new CV joints and boots, distributor rebuild including new cap and rotor, a complete spark plug wire set, new throttle shafts, new water pump, various paint and refinishing to the engine compartment while the engine out services were performed, and various engine component refinishing including cam covers ($16,000). The same shop continued service in 2014 with a complete valve job and resurfacing for the heads including new valve guides oil seals, and new gaskets ($8,600). In 2016, services continued with Fast Cars, including the removal of the dashboard for recovering including new foam and dashboard material. With the dash out, all gauges were checked for proper operation including the horn ($7,800). In 2021, the battery was replaced, and the alternator rebuilt ($2,200).

In preparation for sale, this Ferrari was serviced by expert Ferrari specialist Patrick Ottis Co. Berkeley, CA (completed March 2024). Ottis and his team performed a diagnosis of the engine, compression and leakdown test to determine next best steps. As the diagnosis progressed, it was determined that the engine be removed for further evaluation. While the engine was out, new timing belts, a new clutch, new pilot bearing, new rear main and crank case seal, new valve seals, replacement of all fluids, new accessory belts, new oil, air, and fuel filters were installed, and a valve job performed. Details of this $47k service covers 15 pages of Ottis’ handwritten notations covering the installation of new OEM piston rings installed on the factory pistons, new tensioner bearings, new engine and exhaust gaskets, new head gaskets, four new cam seals, and four new cam bearings. While the engine and transmission were out of the car, the engine was disassembled and the crankshaft inspected, the cylinder bores were jobbed out for honing at Hasselgren Engineering prior to fitting the new rings, the main block cleaned and inspected, the flywheel was resurfaced, the Viton valve stems and valve guides were measured to determine correct tolerances and adjusted to factory clearances, and misc. hardware was soda blasted prior to reassembly. After the service was completed, the engine was started, brought to temperature, ignition timing set, carburetors adjusted, and wheels torqued in preparation for road testing. Per recommended specifications, the new owner should arrange for the cylinder heads to be retorqued after 500-1000 miles have lapsed.

Today this Ferrari presents as a handsome example with sensitive mechanical and cosmetic refurbishment performed by Ferrari specialists. The repaint performed some years ago remains in excellent condition with high luster and consistent gloss to the vivid red finish. The clamshell hood and rear engine lid open and shut smoothly, displaying very nice fit with even panel gaps and closure. The doors open and shut without issue, showing very good fit and preserved inner strike surfaces. The lower black “boxer” finish remains in excellent condition with no major flaws including the front and rear black bumper trim and engine lid treatment. The factory Cromodora cast wheels are particularly nice with no notable marks to the smooth silver finish and no unsightly wheel weights mounted to the exterior rim surfaces. The factory correct chrome plated knock offs add a nice accent to the cast wheels shod with contemporary BFGoodrich Radial T/A tires showing ample remaining tread. The glass bears the original etched branding and remains in excellent condition as are the various window gaskets, black trim, lighting, lenses, and Ferrari emblems and badges throughout the car.

Inside the car, the black leather interior has a very satisfying original appearance with soft and supple seats offering a comfortable feel to the surfaces. Bolster wear is evident on the driver’s seat back with more wear showing at the bottom of the lower left bolster along with typical surface aging commonly found on cars retaining original leather. The center console and door panels are in excellent condition with nice sheen and, here too, remain supple to the touch. The carpeting is in very nice condition and the entry door sills are clean showing only minor use. The black dashboard has been beautifully reupholstered with correct material offering excellent fit and finish. The gauges exhibit vivid color and crisp numeric indication and the leather wrapped steering wheel is in excellent condition including the perimeter stitching. A contemporary detachable-face Alpine CD stereo unit is installed. The factory A/C system activates, and the fan operates but the system is not currently blowing cold. The front trunk compartment is in excellent condition with original black carpeting and factory correct materials in place.

The engine compartment has benefited from a December 2o23 engine out service including timing belt replacement performed by Ferrari specialists at Patrick Ottis & Co. During this service, a valve job was performed, and all fluids were changed while the engine was out. The air intake boxes, unique fittings, and correct Weber carburetors all retain original visual appearance without modifications. The engine and engine compartment is quite nice benefiting from proper services, with noted attention to the lines, wires, and hoses all of which appear in excellent condition. The correctly finished black crackle paint cam covers add to the amazing Flat-12 engine, boasting the added horsepower offered in the 512 BB engine. The handsome cast aluminum features are a significant part of the visual engagement of these mid-engine Ferraris when opening the rear decklid to fully appreciate the mechanical mastery of these carbureted twelve-cylinder engines. The underside of the car is tidy and clean, showing no visible evidence of structural damage to the floors or suspension attachment points. Evidence of road use is present and in keeping with the mileage shown on the odometer, but overall, the car is very nice with a visual condition consistent with the preservation and dutiful maintenance performed on the car.

The car starts quickly cold or warm, idling smoothly and evenly in part due to the March 2024 engine-out service and careful mechanical attention performed by Patrick Ottis & Company in preparation for consignment. Driving this 512 BB one is reminded of how astounding the power and delivery is in a mid-engine car especially when compared to nearly any other performance car of this era. The power curve is delightful as the Weber carburetors open, creating a wonderful surge of acceleration when pressed more aggressively into service. Entering the highway, power comes on like a hurricane especially in the higher rev range offering a continuous leap of speed for each gear. Shifting is very comfortable via the 5-speed gated shifter and smooth take up from the brand-new clutch. Braking is quite good even when coming down from high speeds and the legendary handling reminds anyone at the wheel that even though half a century has lapsed since conception, this Ferrari 512BB still leads the pack among performance cars.

This beautiful Ferrari 512 BB is accompanied by professional service receipts performed on the car since 2009, an owner’s manual, a battery tender, Alpine stereo storage case and instruction manual, safety triangle, a set of original factory tools in the original clasped carry case, a tire changing case with jack, knock-off hammer, and spare belts, and a car cover.

Benefiting from long-term current ownership, this rare and desirable Ferrari 512 BB is poised for the next fortunate enthusiast to experience the unparalleled ownership experience of supercar power and performance. Celebrated for the combined Pininfarina design and dynamic performance, this Ferrari car will continue to define the very best in twelve-cylinder mid-engine performance for future collectors and worldwide enthusiasts for decades to come.

The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.

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Fantasy Junction  •  510-653-7555  •  1145 Park Ave, Emeryville, CA 94608