What It’s Like to Drive a 1981 Ferrari 512BB LM at Full Tilt Around Monza

Nearly 500 horsepower and loads of torque from a 5.0-liter flat-12 shifted at 7,500 rpm.

byMáté Petrány|
Ferrari News photo


After success with its Daytona models, Ferrari began developing a new race car for the 1978 season. Based on the refreshed 512 BB, the resulting four modified LMs saw limited action that year, but the Scuderia soon had to return to the drawing board and come up with a car actually capable of finishing a race.

Weighing around 2,600 pounds, 1979's 512 BB LMs came with fuel injection on their 5.0-liter flat-12 engines, along with a new body from Pininfarina that was 16 inches longer than the production version to improve drag, featuring integrated headlights instead of popups. Nine were made in '79, followed by a further 16 evolutionary models until 1982.

1979 Ferrari 512BB LM, Ferrari

British historic car expert and racer Sam Hancock got the opportunity to drive a 512BB LM around Monza, unleashing all the induction noise of what Ferrari claimed to lead to 464 horsepower in 1981. Classic race cars prepared using modern technologies usually produce more power than in period, hence Hancock putting this 5.0 at 500 hp today. Shifting at 7,500 rpm, Ferrari's early ‘80s endurance racer is all about straight-line speed and low-end punches of torque, which translates to a top speed of around 150 miles per hour at Monza.

In Le Mans specification, the 512BB LM was a 200 mph affair—fast enough for a class win at the 24 Hours in 1981. Wonder what's it like to drive one from that year? Hop onboard No. 29 with Mr. Hancock:

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