Ferrari has always known how to astonish; indeed, this is one of the marque’s great strengths. Just as we think that each new model is the most beautiful of all, the next one comes along and immediately steals the limelight, with innovative design and cutting-edge technical content. This is the case at the 1971 Turin Motor Show with the première of the 365 GT4 BB, the heir of the 365 GTB4.
For a time, the two cars were in production contemporaneously – the last of the outgoing model and the first BBs – almost as if the baton were being passed from one to the other! Despite the fact that replacing the Daytona seems to many to be an impossible feat, the BB succeeded perfectly. With streamlined, low and extremely aggressive lines, it was the first production Ferrari to be fitted with the boxer-type 12-cylinder engine derived from the F1 unit. The technical approach taken was completely different from that adopted on all other Ferrari models produced so far, and the architecture was not that of the classic front-engined V12s – the longitudinally-mounted engine featured opposing cylinder banks. The two Bs stand for Berlinetta Boxer. This name was derived from the fact that the cylinder banks form an angle of 180°, producing an engine with a flat, rectangular shape which enabled the car’s centre of gravity to be lowered. From a technical standpoint, this solution rendered design and construction more complex. Precisely for this reason, the gestation period for this model took longer than usual. On the BB, close attention was also paid to the transmission, with the gearbox positioned under the engine next to the oil sump.
The engine displacement was 4400 cc, with 380 hp and a top speed of 300 km/h: these outstanding levels of performance led the 365 GT4 BB to be crowned the fastest car in the world when it was unveiled. The tubular steel spaceframe chassis was reinforced by the addition of integral steel panels around the cockpit section, making it virtually a “monocoque” construction.
The wedge shape of the nose is derived from the 1968 Pininfarina P6 concept car. The lower section of the nose featured a full-width aluminium egg crate radiator grille, from the top edge of which an indent line ran around the body perimeter, visually creating an upper and lower half to the body, and rendering it even more streamlined. This separation was emphasised by the two-tone paint: matte black on the lower part, and the chosen body colour on the upper part. The contrast gave the car a super sporty, modern look, pre-empting a trend that is still in vogue today. The satin black finish for the lower part of the car became an option on the entire range built in Maranello, and was referred to as the “Boxer” paint finish. The curved line which marked the boundary of the passenger compartment, behind the seats, created the optical illusion of a small door. A matte black spoiler was mounted at the end of the car’s roof. A unique charatcteristic of this model was its six rear round tail-lights and six exhaust pipes – three each side. The retractable headlights and wide wheel arches emphasised the clean lines of the 365 GT4 BB. While the external aesthetic conveys a sense of pure, muscular sportiness, the fine leather interior, by contrast, was comfortable and sobre, in the style of a true grand tourer. This was the first road-going Ferrari to be equipped with a space-saver spare wheel housed under the front bonnet.