On the first view the 365 G4 BB looks like a “normal” new Ferrari model, but nevertheless it has an interesting background-story, as the car broke with two of Enzo Ferrari’s philosophies. At the end of the 1950’s more and more Formula 1 teams changed the position of the engine in their cars, from the front to middle, right behind the driver. Enzo was first not convinced about this new designs and brought it on the point with the quote: “The horse don’t push the car, it pulls it.” But at the end his cars had not been competitive anymore. Even if Enzo was a stubborn person, he was intelligent to analyze the results and flexible to change strategy. This was not done alone, but together with a circle of trusted key-employees. Result became the 156 F1, what dominated the ’61 season with the first two places in the championship for Phil Hill and Wolfgang von Trips.
Beside the success in the races, Enzo did not want to offer the middle engine in the street cars, as from his point of view, such powerful machines in back of the car are too dangerous for inexperienced drivers; a philosophy, which he gave up later in that decade. Ferrari’s new competitor Lamborghini presented the Miura in 1966, a 12 cylinder sports car with middle engine. One year later the Alfa 33 Stradale came with a V8 middle engine on the market. Both, the Lamborghini and the Alfa, had been developed thanks to former Ferrari employees. A first step for Enzo to give up his rejections against middle engine street cars, was the 1968 Dino 206 GT. Followed the next year by the stronger 246 GT. Both Dinos used a V6-engine, so had not been direct competitors to the Alfa 33 Stradale and the Lamborghini Miura.
Based on the 512 race cars, Pininfarina presented several concept cars featuring middle engines, including the 512 S Pininfarina and the 512 S Modulo. Today both can temporally be found in different international museums, as important examples of modern car design, for example the Modulo was part of the “Dream Cars” exhibition in 2015 at Atlanta’s Museum of Modern Art.
Given in to popular demand and the forces of the market, finally in ’73 the Ferrari 365 GT/BB hit the roads. Despite the oil crisis the car stayed in production until 1984, having two mayor upgrades in ’76 to the 512 BB and ’81 to the 515 BBi. His successor became the famous Testarossa, even it would break with the classic design, the Testarossa stayed technically similar to the 365 GT4 BB.
Only 23 years later Ferrari changed its strategy again, returning to Enzo’s original philosophy. The new 550 Maranello had again the engine in the front, which gave Ferrari the opportunity to create a more luxurious interior for the driver, offering this car as alternative to the radical Enzo and the sportive 355.
- Henz, Patrick (2015): “Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Art & History”
- Henz, Patrick (2015): “Business Philosophy according to Enzo Ferrari”