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Old 10-23-2007, 01:49 AM   #1
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Default 83 Ferrari 512 BBi - A man's car

I have driven a number of F cars in the past, but never one that required more concentration on making the car work as an 1983 Ferrari 512 BBi boxer. I'm a rather substantially sized man, at 6'2". From the drivers seat, there is a little more room then on the passenger side. This is a beautiful car... on the grasp of looking modern, and edge of classic style, inside is a mix and match of the same.

So here I am, standing on the drivers side, hopping in.... feeling the transmission cogs... the clutch travel and feel... Its a bit on the tough side, but hey, I've been driving 5 and 6 speeds since I was a lad. I check the mirrors, look around, and notice the goosebumps I've got all over. I turn the ignition, and the fuel injected flat 12 comes to life with immediacy. Not bad for a 24 year old! I depress the clutch a few more times, and start getting a feel for the throttle blipping those twelve pistons.. it really is something of an occasion every time!

I'd like to say that I was off; but that isn't the way things worked out for me in this car, on this day. I'll put up my best excuses to offer, but it all dribbles down to the experience garnered and time spent behind the wheel. The grab of the heavy clutch is very instant at a small portion of travel in the pedal, and the throttle is nearly as tightly sprung, almost becoming a singular "on-off" type switch to my inexperienced right foot. I stall it. I start it up again.... All the while, I'm slowly rolling backwards off the parking lot toward getting stuck in a ditch. I stall again. Whir up those magnificent twelve a third time, I'm about six feet from having to call a tow. I do the only thing I can to heed the impending doom, I feed some revs, hold the throttle, and dump the clutch! I get exactly what I was expecting this time, in some properly dug up earth, spent rubber, and most importantly, FORWARD MOVEMENT!!

It's a little rough, the change into second. Not because the linkage is awry, just my general unfamiliarity with the ratios. Things I am aware of immediately is that this car is a torque monster compared to the eight cylinder Ferrari's I've driven. Not unlike a big V8, there is plenty of torque available near that off-idle practical launch. The trick, I'm finding out, is keeping the revs near that 'off-idle' moment to have a smooth ride for both myself, and the passenger. The torque keeps soaring right through the entire rev band, and second gear takes you right up and over 65 mph with no problem. After that, the ratios are much more anticipated in a close style, where 5th gear is cruising at 70 mph just below 3000.

There is no power steering in this car, but in a mid-engined car, the weight of the steering effort is not that much more then a sporting assisted unit, but all of the feel is there! You can feel exactly where the grip levels are, and what is going on where the rubber meets the road.

One ongoing issue I could easily see happening with this kind of combination clutch and throttle that one would spin the 512 right around quite easily. If I were to own this car, I would set the throttle cables with much more modulation available. That said, besides a few embarrassing stalls, the car drives remarkably GREAT! Handling is good, with plenty of comfort dialed into the suspension, but also cornering very flat. Brakes are pretty standard for any street car, but on the track, I get the feeling that 20 minute sessions would be on the edge of what they can take. No issue, just fine for a street car on street tires!.

All in all, I've been invited to drive another 512, this one a carb, and two year older car I'm told has a much more compliant clutch (as does another friends 512 carb car) I'm looking forward to more driving in this indian summer!

After an all too brief drive, my left leg has certainly done its share of the work... maybe one day, I'll be man enough to tackle this kind of car all day

Car photography website
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Old 10-23-2007, 11:49 AM   #2
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Great occasion mate !! Thanks for sharing
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Old 10-23-2007, 12:44 PM   #3
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Thanks for the brief review.

Lovely car isn't it. Very pure design. I really love the nose section.

It is a driver's car for sure - no power steering, heavy clutch, etc. You need to concentrate to get the job done. Certainly an experience worth having.

"Tazio Nuvolari - The greatest driver of the past, the present and the future" - Ferdinand Porsche
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Old 10-23-2007, 01:12 PM   #4
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Man I envy you On the pic it looks that you are too big for that car She's a beautie only the wheels could be more nice looking 8)

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"...free your mind and the body will follow..." - THE MATRIX
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Old 10-23-2007, 01:20 PM   #5
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Thanks for the nice review! I once had a quick drive in a Testarossa and I definately recognize what you wrote about the heavy clutch

Looking forward to your drive in the carb version. I'm sure those downdraft Weber carbs help make it sound even better!
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Old 10-24-2007, 02:32 PM   #6
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Thanks for the review! Interesting read!

But it's painful not to get high-res from you anymore!!!
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Old 10-24-2007, 02:52 PM   #7
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I've always liked the 512, very nice looking car, Gilles Villeneuve wanted one as a company car but Enzo only gave him a 308, I think he was hoping he would win the F1 title before he gave him an upgrade. Thanks for sharing.
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