The ex-North American Racing Team
1980 Ferrari 512 BB/LM Silhouette
Coachwork by Pininfarina
Chassis no. 30559
Ferraris opposed 12-cylinder Formula One technology worked its way into the production lineup in 1971 with the introduction of the 365 Berlinetta Boxer. A super high performance mid-engined berlinetta for Ferraris most performance-oriented clients, production of the 365 GT4/BB began in 1974. Ferrari was content to rest on its Formula One laurels, however, and made no attempt to develop a GT racing version of the Boxer.
Ferraris intense focus on Formula One was apparent when in 1976 there were no Ferraris on the starting grid for the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time since the Sarthe classic resumed following World War II. Several clients picked up where Ferrari left off, developing GT versions of the 365 GT4/BB and in 1977 one, entered by Luigi Chinettis North American Racing Team, won its class at Le Mans. The 365s days were numbered, however, by the introduction the same year of the five-litre 512 BB.
The Ferrari factory at the same time recognized the market for IMSA class racing cars and began through its Assistenza Clienti department to develop a race prepared but still largely stock version of the 512 BB. Three were delivered in 1978, for NART, Charles Pozzi and Jacques Swaters but all failed to finish at Le Mans. Development took on new urgency at Ferrari and for 1979 a series of silhouette 512 BBs were built.
The accepted model designation, 512 BB/LM left no doubt about Ferraris intention. These cars were aimed at Le Mans and they benefited from completely new lightweight bodywork developed in Pininfarinas wind tunnel specifically to coax out the maximum speed on Le Mans long straights. With dramatically re-shaped and lengthened bodies, wide wheels and tyres, a rear wing and weight reduced to some 1,100 kg the 512 BB/LMs were capable of 200 miles per hour top speed, propelled by new fuel-injected engines making 480 horsepower.
After the 1979 seasons development and experience a series of further-developed 512 BB/LMs were built for 1980 benefiting from the hard-earned lessons of a years competition. These Series II 512 BB/LMs had 500 horsepower, further refined bodywork including side skirts to enhance their undercar aerodynamics and had shed another 100 kg.
The car offered here, 30559, is the first of the 1980 512 BB/LM Series IIs and the 14th built of only 29 (including one Series I built by Jacques Swaters from parts supplied by the Ferrari factory). Delivered to Luigi Chinettis North American Racing Team by Ferrari Assistenza Clienti in May 1980 it was immediately sold to American Preston Henn and entered by NART in the IMSA GTX class for the 1980 Le Mans 24 Hours to be driven by Henn, Jean Pierre Delaunay and Cyril Grandet. Prior to Le Mans it was fitted with larger brakes similar to those used on the Porsche 935, correcting one of the early BB/LMs shortcomings. An engine problem in qualifying kept it from starting and it was then unused until 1982 when NART entered it for Henn in the IMSA GTP class at the Daytona 24 Hours for Bob Wollek, Edgar Doeren and Randy Lanier to drive. It completed 523 laps before being sidelined by a differential problem. Two months later it raced at Sebring driven by Janet Guthrie, Desiré Wilson and Bonnie Henn where it completed 163 laps and was classified 9th in class and 26th overall.
Henn again entered 30559 in the IMSA GTX class at Le Mans in 1982 under his T-bird Swap Shop colors with co-drivers Randy Lanier and Denis Morin but suffered an engine failure during the third hour. Later in 1982 Preston and Bonnie Henn raced in the Fuji 6 Hours in Japan before selling the car in late 1983 to Warren Mosler.
Following an overhaul by Al Roberts during 1984 Mosler campaigned 30559 in several IMSA races in the U.S. through 1985, recording a best finish of 6th in the GTO class and 13th overall at Mid-Ohio in June 1985 driven by John McComb and Rick Mancuso, this 512 BB/LMs final competitive appearance. It was sold in 1992 to its present Swiss owner and has formed part of one of Europes foremost Ferrari collections since then.
Ferrari 512 BB/LM 30559 has one of the longest and best racing histories of the Series II BB/LMs, with competitive appearances by first-rank drivers at the most important endurance races in the world, Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring, and a Luigi Chinetti-NART history. Highly prized today by historic racers, the 512 BB/LM is a competitive Ferrari 12-cylinder factory-built race car that is fast, reliable and - unlike some of its rear-engined competitors from the period - a predictable and well-balanced car even when pressed to the limit.