The Ferrari 512 BB buying guide
You can’t get much more outrageous than a Ferrari 512 BB. It’s brutishly stylish and powerful, and rare too. Here we give an insight into the different variants and the costs involved in driving the 12-cylinder supercar.
Ferrari 512 BB history
The Ferrari 512 BB was presented in 1976 at the Paris Motor Show as the successor to the 4.4-litre V12 front-engined Ferrari 365 GT/4.
The 512 BB came with a mid-mounted flat-12 5-litre – technically a V12 with a 180° angle between the two banks of cylinders, a motor inspired by similar units in Formula 1. Departing from classical design, this new model featured more contemporary styling, and was equipped with four exhaust pipes and four rear lights. Adding to its sporting character, the Ferrari 512 BB featured a small front splitter and was flanked by NACA air intakes towards the rear. Due to its longer and wider stature, this new Ferrari gained weight compared to its predecessor. When empty the car tips the scales at 1515kg.
In 1981 the Ferrari 512 BB was renamed as 512 BBi to denote its carburettors being replaced by injectors. Tougher emissions standards in the USA – an extremely important sales market for the Italian manufacturer – lead to the change. In addition to the technical revision, the car was also given a facelift. Its tyres were widened for better roadholding, and the bonnet received body-coloured air outlet grilles.
A total of 929 examples of the Ferrari 512 BB and 1007 of the 512 BBi were produced. In 1984, production of this model came to an end, with its successor emerging in the shape of the Ferrari Testarossa.
Maintaining a Ferrari 512 BB
Buckle up, because some BB maintenance is pretty daunting… Checking and adjusting valves takes around a day and a half, costing between €900 – €1,000 depending on the workshop. This wouldn’t be so bad if such a task wasn’t needed every 10,000 miles. A simple oil change, something that requires two new oil filters and about 15 litres of lubricant, will result in a bill of around €700.
Many repairs require the engine to be removed, making even small jobs potential financially challenging. If the engine has to be repaired, the costs incurred would make even die-hard Ferrari fans wince. A complete overhaul with new pistons, connecting rod and crankshaft bearings, new water pump and toothed belt, revised cylinder heads and other work quickly rack up €70,000.
It is paramount to take a closer look at the history of the vehicle before making a purchase. Check the clutch and gearbox very carefully. A new clutch costs around €2,500 – €3,000, and a complete gearbox overhaul with a bevel and bevel gear costs €20,000 to €25,000. This job is yet another where the engine must be removed.
One final piece of advice is to change the gearbox oil regularly. Since the gearbox is located below the engine, the oil heats up quickly and can become less effective.
With a vehicle like the Ferrari 512 BB, a specialist is indispensable when it comes to inspecting the car. If you are really thinking about buying a BB it is worth spending some money on consulting an expert before committing. This car’s maintenance costs should definitely be taken into consideration, assuming the worst-case scenario to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Text Jan Fröhlich // Photos Classic Trader
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