Car Video:  Oversteer

The Ferrari Boxer Is the Coolest Ferrari From 35 Years Ago

RELATED READING
See all Ferrari any articles
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon
ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Doug DeMuro November 2017

I recently had the chance to drive a 1981 Ferrari 512BB, which stands for "Berlinetta Boxer," although car enthusiasts all know that this car really only has one name: the Boxer. The Ferrari Boxer is a mid-engine, 12-cylinder supercar, and it was a crucial vehicle for Ferrari, representing the pivot from the coach-built era of the 1960s into the larger-volume world of the 1980s.

It is, in a word, cool.

And that's why I chose to drive it after perusing the entire inventory of Tomini Classics, an exotic car dealership in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, with some amazing vehicles. I was in Dubai for the launch of the new Chevy Corvette ZR1, and I stopped by Tomini to review some of their truly incredible inventory -- and you'll see those reviews pop up over the next few months. Today, we begin with the Boxer.

But before I get started, a little history lesson for those of you who aren't obsessively up on your Ferrari heritage. The Boxer came out in the 1970s, and it was the mid-engine, 12-cylinder Ferrari that preceded the Testarossa; Ferrari called it the "Boxer" because the engine is a flat V12, and the cylinders look like they're "boxing" as they fire -- though it's worth noting the car doesn't actually have a boxer engine, strictly speaking, like a Subaru or a Porsche. The Boxer was Ferrari's first mid-engine V12 car, and it was their answer to the famous Lamborghini Miura, which had debuted a few years earlier. If you don't know about the Boxer, one possible reason is that Ferrari never sold it in North America: Enzo famously didn't want to deal with the regulatory hoops that would've required, so he simply skipped the U.S. market altogether. However, many have since been imported privately.

With that out of the way, I'm going to skip to the drive, and specifically one quick point: the cabin is tight. I don't mean this in the sense that it's a little difficult to sit in this car. I mean it was probably dangerous to have me drive, because my knee would've interfered with any sort of panic turn, and my thigh was practically sitting on the gear lever when it was in first. The car isn't hard to get inside, and it isn't difficult to fit when I'm in it, but actually driving it is a whole different story. I don't know if I've ever driven another car with such poor packaging.

But that is (mostly) forgotten when you get out on the road, and you open it up and hear that amazing 12-cylinder Ferrari noise behind you. It isn't as glorious as, uh, some of the other Tomini reviews I have coming, but it's truly impressive -- and it gives you that thrill, that feeling you're driving a car that isn't necessarily monstrously fast, but is certainly monstrously cool. Modern cars sound amazing. But modern cars do not sound like this.

The Boxer, however, is a bit unsettled by corners. Modern exotic cars are so predictable and stable, and they can basically be driven by idiots, but older ones required a lot more skill -- they have skinny tires, unassisted steering and massive blind spots, and the Boxer suffers from all three. Going around a long, sweeping curve at high speed, I felt it get a little squirrely and I backed off immediately. This is a car you want to drive fast only after you've gotten used to it.

Or, I should say, it's a car you want to drive fast in turns only after you've gotten used to it. On straightaways, it's a total joy: It's actually fast, even by modern standards, and beyond the sheer speed you have that immense noise right behind you. At one point, while I was driving the Boxer, a man in a 911 Turbo glanced over at me and stared longingly, which sort of summed up the whole experience: his car is objectively better in every way. But he still wants my car.

Although, to be honest, he probably wouldn't want the Boxer if he knew about the driving position -- or some of its other unusual quirks. Like, for instance, the fact that there's virtually no cargo space. Or that the glovebox shares space with the fusebox, and neither will open if the car is off. Or the fact that opening the engine cover requires two latches and two people. Or how there's only one exterior mirror, and one giant wiper arm that rests on the windshield itself. But hey: there are two ashtrays. And two cigarette lighters.

In the end, the Boxer certainly isn't a modern car, and it's not trying to be one -- but it's definitely a special car, and it's very interesting to see what passed for "cool" in 1981. For example, we know that tall drivers were not allowed to be cool. Or maybe they just had to buy a Maserati.

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

MORE FROM OVERSTEER:
6 Months With the Cheapest Porsche Cayenne Turbo in the USA
Here's Why the Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM Is Worth $400,000
Here's How to Properly Photograph a Car

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
The Ferrari Boxer Is the Coolest Ferrari From 35 Years Ago - Autotrader