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Ferrari's Winning Boxer


The highly successful 1982 Ferrari 512 BBi "Boxer" was hand-crafted car with mid-engined performance and aesthetic appeal

Introduced at the 1981 Frankfurt Show, the 512 BBi was the last derivation of the 1973 365 Berlinetta Boxers. Almost identical to its 512 BB predecessor, it retained the wider rear track and wider and longer body. It also kept the front spoiler and NACA ducts to the rear brakes, but its flat-12 featured Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection instead of carburetors. Detail improvements were made to the suspension and aerodynamics.

With 344 hp at 6,300 rpm and an overall weight of just 3,304 pounds, the car performed in Ferrari style and was a major sales success. At the close of production in 1984, some 1,007 units had been built. It also marked the passing of an era in Ferrari history, for as coachbuilder Sergio Scaglietti sadly remarked, "It was the last car where we made everything by hand."

The car on offer is in traditional and unmarked Rosso Corsa, it was delivered new in Switzerland, and it has a Swiss title. All of the original documents are included with the Ferrari wallet. The odometer indicates it has covered 17,143 miles, or 27,568 kilometers. Since 2001, it has been in a private collection. Recent work includes a full examination, new electronic control unit, new battery, etc., at a cost of $4,385. As such, this is a fine opportunity for a discerning owner to acquire a genuine, fine original-condition, low-mileage 512 with all the benefits of the later production series.

The SCM Analysis

This car sold for $118,700 at the Sportscar Auction in Geneva, Switzerland, on October 6, 2007.

This is a substantial price, as Sports Car Market's 2007 Price Guide pegs the BBi at $65,000–$85,000. But as Publisher Martin said in a recent article: "As the top-flight cars like the Maserati A6GCS and Ferrari 250 SWB continue to accelerate, we are seeing the first signs that the far lesser cars, such as Maserati 3500 GTs and even unloved Ferrari Boxers, are beginning to be caught up in the froth."

Indeed, recent sales of Boxers, such as RM's 2007 sale of a 365 BB at Amelia Island for $176,000 (SCM# 44688), contrast vividly with Bonhams's sale of a very nice 13,000-mile injected Boxer in December 2000 in Switzerland for $44,800 (SCM# 10710). This would indicate how robust the Boxer market has become, which is perhaps fitting -- and more realistic -- for a hand-crafted car with so much mid-engined performance and aesthetic appeal. Even at the new prices, Boxers are still less than half the cost of a Daytona.

The 365 Boxer introduced in 1973 was revolutionary for Ferrari and designed to meet the competition of the mid-engined Lamborghini Miura and Maserati Bora. Some 2,313 Boxers were sold over a ten-year run, while it took the factory only five or so years to produce 1,273 Daytona coupes. No Boxers were ever sold by the factory in the U.S.; all had to be modified to meet DOT and EPA requirements.

Injected Boxers seem to bring less

An entirely new car, and the first road-going Ferrari not to have a "V" configuration engine, the Boxer used a 4.4-liter, 4-cam flat-12 derived from the 3-liter Formula One car. The mid-mounted engine and 5-speed transaxle were housed in a tubular/monocoque chassis clothed in Pininfarina's elegant Berlinetta coachwork. Some 387 were produced from 1974 to 1976.

These early Boxers were followed by 929 carbureted 512 Boxers with slightly enlarged engines, but they were detuned for better mid-range torque. Then, 1,078 injected 512s were produced from 1982 to '84 with considerable changes. Dick Fritz, whose company Amerispec imported and modified more Boxers than anyone else, once said that the stock 512i cars had "100 changes -- 50 for the mechanic and 50 for the customer." But while it is a considerably better car for the average driver -- and easier to modify to meet EPA regulations -- the injected car seems to bring less than the carbed 512s, while the more untamed, high-revving 365 brings the highest prices.

But what about this car? The catalog description, as usual, leaves lots of unanswered questions. As with any 12-cylinder Ferrari under $200,000, status of the maintenance can influence the value as much as $20,000. SCM's man on the ground, Richard Hudson-Evans, had this to say:

"The odometer had 23 more miles by sale day compared with cataloged mileage. So the good news was that it must run, even though, allegedly, it had been mainly static whilst in a private collection from 2001 to 2007. In terms of body panels and paint, it appeared to be largely original, with no signs of being restored. The black leather seats with black herringbone cloth inserts exhibited only minor wear and looked like they had less than 20,000 miles. The engine bay was nothing special, though clean and tidy, and ECU and battery may well have been renewed recently as claimed. I did not, however, have cause to personally peruse the paperwork, if any, to authenticate what precisely had been done. Overall, I judged the condition as a #1-."

Many well-documented exotics sell privately for far more than examples that show up at auctions with no service history or documentation. A stack of repair bills and photos backed by a believable owner are worth real money and peace of mind. Was this Boxer a good buy? Only time will tell. It will either be a high fun-per-dollar car and a good buy in this market, or it will be a major engine-out service away from the money pit. But for some brave bidder, the gamble was obviously worth it.

New book details competition history

What of future values? Will Boxers continue to appreciate? As with all second-tier collectibles, it depends largely on the price levels of more desirable items. But one new factor is a recently published book, which devotes over 100 pages to the competition history of the Boxer. Nathan Beehl's Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer: The Road and Race Legends (www.rardleymotors.com), is an excellent, well-researched book with extensive coverage of both the 32 factory-prepared BB/LMs and the many privately prepared racers.

Association with racing is what makes many Ferrari models valuable, and until now the story of the ten-year Boxer campaigns by private entrants had not been told, so this book alone will boost the bragging rights of any Boxer owner, and perhaps the value of his favorite mount. As to the claim that the Boxer is an unloved car, tell that to the many supporters who keep the fires burning for the Boxer on the forums of Ferrarichat.com.

Caveat lector: The writer is just finishing an expensive refurbishment on his 365 Boxer, and has the following recommendations: For frequent driving, buy an injected BB; for raw excitement, find a 365; for maximum value, buy a carbureted 512. Just be aware that buying a Boxer without paperwork is akin to playing Russian Roulette -- with all the chambers loaded.

(Introductory description courtesy of Sportscar Auction Co.)

Details

Years Produced: 1974-84

Number Produced: 327 (365 BB); 927 (512 BB); 1,007 (512 BBi)

Original List Price: $35,000 plus DOT/EPA ($15,000)

SCM Valuation: $65,000-$85,000 (BBi)

Tune-up Cost: $3,500; add $2,000 for belts

Distributor Caps: $350

Chassis # Location: Frame tube in engine bay

Engine # Location: Top of engine block

Club Info: Ferrari Club of America, PO Box 720597, Atlanta, GA 30358; Ferrari Owner's Club, 8642 Cleta St., Downey, CA 90241

Website: click to visit

Alternatives: 1966-72 Lamborghini Miura, 1971-80 Maserati Bora, 1967-71 DeTomaso Mangusta

Investment Grade: B


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