Part 39 Ferrari Road Cars – From the Daytona to the F40
By David Cavaliere
I was reminiscing about a track day back in 1983 at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. I was driving a super stock class Datsun 280Z and during open practice two, I found myself behind a silver and black Ferrari 512 Berlinetta Boxer. The driver was by no means pushing his car and I was able to stick on his tail. After trailing him for a few laps, he waved me by on the front straight, giving me quite a thrill! When I returned to the paddock, I was greeted by laughter from two track marshals. They had been on the radio with other marshals around the track chatting about the crazy Z car hassling a brand new Euro-spec Boxer. The owner had trailered the Ferrari to the track and had a substantial bond on the car to ensure that it would be U.S. federalized. The marshals could see him go pale with fear each time I crawled up his unique 3 plus 3 tailpipes. Gee, and I thought I was driving well. I mention the 512 BB because that is one of the feature cars this week. It was the first mid-engine 12 cylinder Ferrari road car and was really a much, much faster car than my little Datsun.
In the second half of the 1960s, the automotive world was enthralled by mid-engine mania, thanks to Lamborghini’s 170-mph Miura, introduced in 1966. Everyone expected Ferrari to respond with a mid-engine V12. They were wrong. What Ferrari introduced in 1968 was the Daytona. It had its engine in the front and contained a bored out 352 hp, 4.4-liter four-cam Colombo V12, fed by six downdraft Weber carburetors. Its formal name was the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 – 365 was the cubic centimeter size of one cylinder, while 4 referred to the engine’s four cams. The Daytona name commemorated Ferrari’s 1-2-3 sweep at the 1967 24-hour sports-car race. It was also the last model made by Ferrari before Enzo sold 50% of his company to Fiat in 1969. Production of the Daytona lasted until 1973 with a total of 1,406 built over the life of the model.
The grand tourer Ferraris of the 1970s were the 365 GT4 2+2, Ferrari 400 and Ferrari 412 models. All were front-engine V12s with 2+2 seating, spanning the time frame between 1972 and 1989. Intended as a replacement for the short-lived 365 GTC/4, the three cars were closely related, using the same body, chassis and engine. That said, the Ferrari 365 line of cars is quite possibly the most confusingly named series of cars ever produced! There was the 365 GTB/4, the 365 GT 2+2, the 365 GT4 BB, the 365 GTC, the 365 GTC/4, the 356 California and finally, the 365 GT4 2+2 – each of which is virtually a completely different car. The 365 GT4 2+2 was especially different due to its size – it is nearly sedan-like in its proportions.
One year later, Ferrari introduced the 365 GT4 BB, or Berlinetta Boxer. The “Boxer” part of the name is a bit of a misnomer and refers to the engine. It is actually a flat twelve, with two connecting rods per crankpin. In a true boxer (horizontally opposed engine), each crankpin controls only one piston.
Totally different from the 365 GT4 2+2, the Boxer was the mid-engine super car that Enzo resisted producing for years, afraid that the 12-cylinder engines would make the cars too difficult for owners to drive safely. In 1976, a round of styling and mechanical updates renamed the car the 512 BB, now sporting a 5.0 liter engine. The car had race-bred dynamics, stunning looks and a top speed of 187 mph. It was never being officially imported to North America. If you see one on the road, the car has been “federalized” with catalytic converters and revised bumpers. The 512 BB enjoyed a six-year run from 1976 to 1981, followed by the fuel injected 512 BBi through 1984. A total of almost 2,000 of the cars were to leave the factory.
The Pininfarina-styled Ferrari 308 GTB was introduced at the Paris Motor Show in 1975. It was a mid-engine thoroughbred that had a 10-year production run. The body was a mix between the curvaceous body of the Dino and the more angular look of the Daytona. Each of the generations of 308 had a 3.0-liter V-8 engine. Early models had Weber carburetors. Fuel injection was added in 1980 and then four-valve heads – the Quattrovalvole in 1982. In 1984, Ferrari resurrected the abbreviation for Gran Turismo Omologata. The car was based on the 308, but was produced for racing class homologation – the 288 GTO. It was powered by a 2.8-liter DOHC V8 engine, equipped with a pair of IHI turbochargers and Weber-Marelli fuel injection. The engine produced a healthy 395 hp and had a top speed of 190 mph. Only 272 were produced.
The Mondial was another mid-engine V8 Ferrari. It was produced as a coupé and cabriolet (convertible) between 1980 and 1993. Conceived as a ‘practical’ Ferrari, the Mondial was a genuine long-distance four-seater, with sufficient rear, head and leg-room for children and smaller adults. It had surprisingly good all-round visibility for a mid-engine car. The car was one of Ferrari’s most commercially successful models, with over 6,000 examples produced over its thirteen-year run. The Mondial underwent many updates throughout its production with four distinct variants produced – the Mondial 8, Mondial QV (four-valve engine), Mondial 3.2, and Mondial T (not a turbo, but a longitudinally-mounted engine with a transverse gearbox forming a “T”). All but the Mondial 8 were released in both coupé and cabriolet models.
Development of the next Ferrari supercar – the Testarossa, began in the early 1980s, when Maranello set out to create a sports car that would fix the faults of the Berlinetta Boxer. In 1982, Pininfarina was commissioned to design a 12-cylinder Ferrari with side-mounted radiators, GT-level luggage space and improved comfort. The finished product arrived two years later as the Testarossa, a car that quickly became an icon of 1980s culture. Mostly known for its side strakes and ultra-wide rear track, the car was produced until 1991. Updated into the 512 TR the following year and the F512 M in 1994, the Testarossa was the last to use Ferrari’s flat-12 engine. The Testarossa effectively bridged the gap between the fast, but somewhat crude Berlinetta Boxer and the 550 grand tourer that replaced the F512 M in 1996.
To finish my coverage of Ferraris road cars through the 1980s, we have the F40. Developments of the twin turbo V8 of the GTO were applied to the next limited production car. Introduced in 1987 and intended to commemorate 40 years of the Ferrari marque, the F40 had its original production run of 399 cars extended to over 1200 cars through 1992. It was the last car introduced by Enzo and the first Ferrari road car capable of 200 mph. With its stunning exterior, brutally powerful engine and extraordinary handling, it ranks as one of the most desirable cars to purchase for investment appreciation purposes.
Enzo Ferrari died at the age of 90 on August 14, 1988. At the time of his death, his drivers had claimed more than 4,000 victories. Scuderia Ferrari had won 13 world titles, including nine in Formula One.