With Lamborghini debuting the rolling chassis for its upcoming mid-engined Miura as early as 1965, Enzo Ferrari had time to adopt the same configuration for the Daytona. However, he was reputedly concerned that his customers might struggle with the inherent handling of so powerful a mid-engined car, so once again opted for the tried and tested front engine/rearwheel drive layout.
By the time the Daytona needing replacing, however, he had been won over. The smaller Dino had proved to be a big hit and the mid-engined offerings of his competitors were proving popular enough. The Pininfarina-designed
365 GT4 BB (where BB stood for Berlinetta Boxer) therefore became Ferrari's first 12-cylinder road car to feature a mid-mounted engine.
Though the Boxer tag was sparked by the use of a flat rather than V-12 engine, it is something of a misnomer as (unlike Ferrari's flat 12 race engines which were genuine boxer units, in which opposing pistons echo each other's movements) on this engine the pistons moved away as their opposite number approached. The unit shared the same bore and stroke - and therefore 4,390cc capacity - as the Daytona, and was mounted longitudinally above the transmission.
The 365 GT4 BB was first presented at the 1971 Turin motorshow but was not actually released for sale until the Paris exhibition of 1973. Though it was recognised from the outset as a replacement for the Daytona, the two cars were in fact produced alongside each other during 1973. Just 387 examples were reputedly made of this early version of the Boxer, 88 of which were in RHD form and 58 of which were delivered to the UK.
A revised Boxer was debuted at the Paris motorshow of 1976, for which the 512 nomenclature of Ferrari's racing past was resurrected (where the 5 related to the engine capacity and the 12 to the number of cylinders). Aside of the increase in engine size to 4,942cc and a higher compression ratio of 9.2:1, the 512 BB featured a deep chin spoiler, NACA style brake cooling ducts on the flanks, wider rear tyres, twin rather than triple rear lights and twin rather triple exhaust tailpipes. The performance was as impressive as you might expect, the engine's 360bhp being sufficient to propel the Ferrari to 62mph in around 5.4 seconds and on to a top speed of nearly 190mph. Some 929 BB 512 examples are thought to have been produced before the model was replaced by the Boxer's final iteration - the fuel-injected BB 512i.
The near concours RHD Nero black 512 BB on offer was ordered new from Maltin Car Concessionaires in December 1977 and delivered to its first owner, Stafford Pemberton, in April the following year - the retail price before tax was £22,222. The car's comprehensive history file contains every bill attributed to the Boxer since day one - they total in excess of £80,000 for the last 25 years alone. The biggest investment to date was made with renowned Ferrari specialists Nick Cartwright, whose comprehensive work on the car towards the end of the '80s included extensive bodywork and an all new Ferrari interior. Between 1999 and 2006 the engine and gearbox were completely rebuilt by Kent High Performance. £4,000 has recently been spent with Italia Autosport in respect of a full brake service, engine service, new clutch and cam belts.
The detailed records for chassis No.23745 confirm the registered mileage of 49,100 as correct and the Ferrari is MOT'd until March next year. The stunning black paintwork is complemented by a still as-new stone-coloured leather interior and the vendor has no hesitation in claiming every aspect of this head-turning Ferrari to be 'A1'.
Boxer production ran from 1973 to 1984, during which period the world suffered not one but two fuel crises. Without them one can assume sales would have considerably surpassed the actual total of 2,323. As it is, righthand drive cars are small in number and ones of this quality very rarely come to market these days. Many consider these iconic mid-engined Ferraris to be undervalued currently - especially in view of the way Miura values have risen. If they're right, such a lovely, low mileage example could well turn out to be a shrewd investment.