SANDWICHED IN time between the iconic Daytona and the brash Testarossa while battling Lamborghini’s outrageous Countach, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer is Maranello’s most unsung supercar.

The first mid-engined Ferrari road car, the 365 GT4 BB was first shown as a concept at the 1971 Turin Show, and was designed to spike the guns of Lamborghini’s pretty Miura.

Enzo Ferrari was slow to appreciate the benefits of putting the engine behind the driver, both on track and road, and the knock-on effect of this was that the BB was a car forced to play catch-up.

It arrived in 1973, just as the noisy neighbours from down the road at Sant’Agata were retiring the Miura and introducing the Countach.

It was also the first Ferrari road car with a flat (or ‘boxer’) engine, although engineers will point out that the engine is, in effect, a V12 with a 180-degree crank, without the typical boxer-engine firing order of something like a Porsche. It made some decent numbers, with quoted power rated at 265kW by Ferrari.

After some speculation that the car couldn’t attain its claimed 302km/h top speed, Ferrari owner’s manuals later rated the 512 BB and 512BBi successors at 250kW, making the 365 ‘officially’ the most powerful BB variant. Peak torque was a little down on that quoted for the Daytona: 409Nm at 3900rpm compared to 431Nm at 5500rpm.

What’s not widely appreciated is that during its production span (1973-1976), Ferrari shifted 387 365 GT4 BBs, whereas in the first three years of production, Lamborghini could only sell 158 Countach LP400s, so any suggestion that the BB was eclipsed by the Lamborghini should be taken with a pinch of salt.

This 1976 example has enjoyed a full nut and bolt restoration and is one of only a handful in Australia.

Finished in Chiaro Blue, it’s covered 46,105 miles and is without any aftermarket modifications. So, yes, it’s been enjoyed but a lot of money has been spent returning it to the how it looked when it first rolled past Il Commendatore’s office and left the factory.

Identifiable by the six tail lights rather than the later 512 BB’s quartet of lamps, the 365

GT4 BB tends to command higher prices amongst Ferrari collectors. The high centre of gravity of the powerplant, sitting as it does atop the transaxle gearbox, made for interesting handling at the limit, something that can be alleviated to a certain extent by using more modern tyres.

Timing belts rather than the Daytona’s chains were definitely a retrograde step and the packaging of the BB meant it wasn’t such an elegant grand tourer as the Daytona or, indeed, many of the later front-engined Ferrari flagships such as the 550 or the 599. The Ferrari BB’s styling has always been a beautiful study in minimalism. It might just be Leonardo Fioravanti’s best work; clean, beautifullyproportioned and without a jarring angle. It’s a more sensual, feminine shape than the macho Daytona but the bulging wheel arches and jutting exhausts give the 365 GT4 BB just the right dose of attitude. Maranello’s overlooked masterwork could yet enjoy its time in the sun.


Rubber Soul

SHOW MOST people a BB and they’ll comment on its tyres. The car rolled from the factory on 215/70 15 Michelin XWX balloons and these really are the go if you want to preserve the original look for the car. The Avon CR6 ZZ is an option is you’re looking to really improve the performance while retaining sidewall profile or alternatively the Pirelli P4000 works if you prefer to update the look and feel a little. Whatever you do, don’t go overboard chasing a low-profile tyre for the BB. The look and the ride quality will suffer, so it pays to respect Fioravanti’s original aesthetic.

1976 FERRARI 365 GT4 BB

NUMBERS PRODUCED: 387 (1973-1976) (88 RHD) ENGINE: 4390cc carburettor fl at-12, twin OHC per bank, longitudinally, wet sump TRANSMISSION: fi ve-speed manual SUSPENSION: Wishbones, coil springs, and hydraulic shock absorbers, front and rear anti roll bars.

MAX POWER: 265kW@7500rpm MAX TORQUE: 409Nm@3900rpm DRY WEIGHT: 1235kg 0-100KM/H: 5.4s (claimed) TOP SPEED: 302km/h (claimed) WHERE