1978 FERRARI 512BB

Owning a 1978 FERRARI 512BB

1978 Ferrari 512 BBWhen we create an artwork for a customer we like to find out more about their car, the ownership experience and what make it special. Mark has put pen to paper and shared some insight into owning a 1978 FERRARI 512BB

Favourite Part

The shape and the sound. There really is no bad angle on the car and they don’t make them like this anymore. It is truly one of Pininfarina’s design masterpieces. The car is a piece of art that you can just stare at for hours on end. Open the front and rear clam shells and it looks like a Le Mans racer. The engine is a thing of beauty and few other cars display it as proudly as a 512bb with the rear engine cover opened.  I also love the fact that the car is not restored and has patina that shows that it has lived a nice and pampered life over the last 37 years. The car is certainly not a garage queen and has covered 72,000 miles from new. And with the aural delight of a 5 litre flat 12 behind you sucking air through 4 x triple choke webbers, what better sound can you ask for???


Driving Experience and Quirks

The first thing you notice when you approach the car is the shape, and how low and small (narrow) the car actually is.

The door handle opens with a click and shuts like a bank vault (owners of air-cooled 911s will appreciate this). Everything feels mechanical and solid. When you get into the car, it is the smell of the leather that greets you. The smell of an Italian classic car is unique. Then you will marvel at how light and airy the interior is. There is a lot of glass and the visibility is excellent although it tends to heat up real quick on a sunny day (the aircon is basically useless down here in Australia). The infamous old school Ferrari long arms short legged driving position takes a bit of getting used to. The proximity of your head to the windscreen also feels a bit disconcerting at first.

1978 FERRARI 512BB Interior - Copyright Mark W

1978 FERRARI 512BB Interior – Copyright Mark W

You turn the ignition half way to start up the fuel pump, wait for a while, give the accelerator pedal a pump or two and then turn the key all the way to start. Depending on when she was last driven, you may have to try more than once to wake her up. Feather the throttle a bit and once she is idling nice and steady, put the gear into reverse (you push the gear lever down and all the way towards the top left, the car has an old school dog leg first gear) and back it out of the drive way.


Standard operating procedure of any old school Ferrari is to by-pass 2nd gear until the oil is up to temp. Once properly warmed up, the shift is smooth, with the characteristic clicking sound that only a gated shifter can make.


Ferrari V12The unassisted steering is heavy at low speeds and the brakes takes a while to get used to (this is 1970s technology after all!). The clutch is also relatively heavy compared to modern cars. It takes a while , but once you accept that these “short comings” are in fact part of the car’s character, you will be rewarded with one of the most wonderful driving experiences. One that combines classic Ferrari, 12 Cylinder, carburettors and a mid-engine layout together in one package. Power delivery from a well-tuned flat 12 is seamless, but you have to be careful not to give it too much gas. You must not be over anxious with your right foot or you will be punished with low-speed sluggishness. But once the carbs have cleared, the car just accelerates. One will be surprised at the 512bb’s ability to keep up with the moderns and the smooth power delivery. Even by today’s standards, this is a seriously quick car.  Jay Leno said that “everyone should drive a 12 cylinder car at least once in their life.”

1978 FERRARI 512BB - Copyright Mark W

1978 FERRARI 512BB – Copyright Mark W


The 512bb was one of my dream cars when I was a kid.

I still remember playing with a Tomy diecast 512bb toy car when I was 8. It was sort of forgotten at the back of my mind for a long time and I got into Porsches (aircooled 911s, GT3s etc), when finally 3 years ago, I decided to look for a classic Ferrari. I found a 330 GT which I almost bought, but the PPI did not turn out too great so I let that one go. Immediately after, I found this 512bb. Then all the memories when I was a kid flooded back, and I realised that I have to own it.

1978 FERRARI 512BB – Copyright Mark W

1978 FERRARI 512BB – Copyright Mark W


It is not a car to drive to the shops, or for a short distance. It is a car to drive for the sake of driving. It is a car for nice long drives away from the city, where there are fast bends and open roads. Yes, the car is exhausting to drive, but you have a feeling of immense satisfaction afterwards. Some cars are just transportation, comfortable, safe, fuel efficient etc. But some are more than that, they are the dream cars, the cars that one can keep forever and never tire of looking at or driving.

These cars make you look forward to the weekend and pray for the weather to be nice (and cool).

They give you a nice warm fuzzy feeling knowing they are right there in the garage waiting. With these cars, all the supposed “flaws” becomes part of their character. Just like fine wine, they just get better with age. With these cars, there is no destination, it is all about the drive.


Big thank you to Mark for sharing his experiences and passion for his Ferrari. 

To view the artwork of this car – click here

– Steve 1-OF-1.com.au







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