Nineteen seventy-six was a dark year for Ferrari in terms of GT racing. Distracted by Niki Lauda’s success in Formula 1, Ferrari had left its clients with no factory assistance, and for the first time in Ferrari’s fabled history, no Ferraris would compete at that year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Just up the road, however, Ferrari had just unveiled the successor to the 365 GT4 BB – the Ferrari 512 BB.
A larger 5.0-litre V-12 engine, clothed within a beautifully styled body proved a success – the 512 BB was Ferrari’s top supercar until the Testarossa. With petitioning from serious customers, Ferrari’s Customer Assistance department started development on a racing version of the 512 in 1978. The result, a gentle monster packed in one of the sexiest GT bodies around, can be seen here. Chassis no. 31159 was fitted with the factory ‘Le Mans Kit’ by original owner Markus Kiesgen, a founding member of the Ferrari Club Deutschland, immediately after taking delivery. This upgrade saw power output increased to 460 bhp, with the overall weight of the car decreased to 1,230 kg. The bodywork of chassis 31159 was also modified – this included 9- and 12-in. rims, the removal of the pop-up headlights, front and rear spoilers to aid in aerodynamics, and fender flares to cover the racing tyres. The car also received larger brakes to keep its additional performance in check.
Raced by Kiesgen between 1980 and 1985 in Germany, the vehicle was entirely revised by Bratke Motorsport in 2006. The engine and gearbox were overhauled, the bodywork restored, a FT 3 tank installed, and acontemporary FIA-approved roll cage mounted. After a 2012 race at the Red Bull Ring where the oil supply caused engine seizure, a yearlong engine restoration was undertaken with the goal to bring the 512 BB LM up to 2014 safety standard. Most recently, chassis 31159 competed at the Le Mans Classic in 2016 and 2018. Prior to Le Mans in 2018, an engine rebuild was undertaken and inspection, confirming it adheres to current safety standards. Accompanied by a current FIA Rennpass and engine rebuild invoices confirming it produces 475 bhp, this would continue to be an excellent entry to historic racing events around Europe.
The stunning Classic Ferrari will come up for auction with RM Sothebys in Paris next month.