1978 Ferrari 512 BB Competizione headed to auction

A 1978 Ferrari 512 BB Competizione race car in remarkably original condition is heading to auction with RM Sotheby’s.

Scheduled to be auctioned off during the firm’s Monterey Car Week sale Aug. 17-19, this car is one of three factory race cars built for the 1978 24 Hours of Le Mans, and part of a barn find collection of 20 vintage Ferraris recently unearthed after decades in storage.

The 512 BB Competizione is one of the most notable cars in that collection. Unveiled at the 1976 Paris auto show, the 512 BB was Ferrari’s flagship supercar during the second half of the 1970s, building off the 365 GT4 BB. “BB” is short for “Berlinetta Boxer,” denoting the 5.0-liter boxer-12 engine, which made 360 hp in road-going trim.


1978 Ferrari 512 BB Competizione (photo via RM Sotheby’s)

With the launch of the 512 BB, Ferrari management felt the time was right to return to sports car racing after a short hiatus. The factory produced the three racing versions in early 1978, decreasing weight to 2,425 pounds and increasing output to 460 hp while retaining the stock 5-speed manual transmission.

Built to IMSA GTX-class specifications, two of the race cars were entered at Le Mans by French Ferrari distributor Charles Pozzi, while the car featured here was entered by famed U.S. Ferrari distributor Luigi Chinetti and his North American Racing Team (NART). The car was running as high as second in its class later in the race, but the stock transmission proved a weak point, and the NART car retired in the 19th hour of the race.


1978 Ferrari 512 BB Competizione (photo via RM Sotheby's)

1978 Ferrari 512 BB Competizione (photo via RM Sotheby’s)

Chinetti kept the 512 BB until 1980, when he sold it to carpet dealer and Ferrari collector Glen Kalil. In 1981, Kalil sold it to Walter Medlin, who squirreled it away in his private collection. The car has remained in storage ever since, gathering dust, but also retaining its 1978 Le Mans livery and original race-tuned engine.

The 512 BB Competizione is one of many notable cars in what RM Sotheby’s calls the “Lost & Found Collection.” First stored in a Florida barn before being moved to an Indiana warehouse, the collection also includes a 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB/6C that raced in the 1966 Targa Florio and one of four 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Coupe Speciales with Pininfarina Superamerica-style coachwork. Not all are in the same complete condition as the Le Mans-veteran 512 BB, though.

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