Classic Cars

Biomass Ballast Accelerator: Ferrari 512 BB

Fireworks for the senses. With a power unit. This Ferrari 512 BB Competizione as a Le Mans conversion is not user-friendly despite being road-legal. What's more, the driver seems irrelevant. And a passenger is a nuisance anyway. Which makes the car something very special. And so we leave the year 2023 behind us.

  • Interview
    Michael Köckritz
  • Photos
    Matthias Mederer • ramp.pictures

Armin Pohl starts up the engine of the 512 BB Competizione. He presses a few buttons, turns a lever, flips a switch that (because it’s covered by a red protective flap) looks as if it’s been taken from a fighter jet. A rushing noise, and the starter begins to gurgle. It struggles a bit, almost panting, like a couch potato climbing stairs. And just when you’ve about given up hope, the V12 springs to life with a sonorous bang.

In an ordinary sports car, you sit in the cabin, perhaps in front of the engine. In this racing car, you become part of the powertrain. Though you’re more of a hindrance than a help, to be honest, because you bring all these human reactions with you: it’s too cramped, too hot, too hard, too loud. The car vibrates and rattles like a freight train that can barely stay on the rails at full speed. It reeks of oil and gasoline with a very special 1980s scent.




You’re actually more of a Lamborghini fan. Why buy an unsuccessful road-legal racing car from Ferrari?

It was an impulse buy. I was leafing through an auction catalog, and the Ferrari 512 BB Competizione with the Le Mans kit was the only car I found interesting. I didn’t bid at the auction because I didn’t want to buy anything at the time. But the car wasn’t sold, and that made me curious. I was then able to buy the car outside of auction with no buyer’s premium. The car was in Munich, and we went to look at it there. I immediately thought it was an amazing car, so I said to myself: let’s go for it.

1/3
You drove it straight off the lot, so to speak?

Not quite. First the car had to be properly prepped. It took almost two years to get it in the condition it’s in today.

And how does it drive?

It’s wonderfully loud, both when you’re standing on the outside or if you’re sitting inside of it, though I honestly don’t know if it’s louder outside or not. And it’s incredibly cramped. Once the engine has warmed up, the temperatures inside reach absurd levels. On a hot summer day, it’s probably around 90 °C in there. There’s only one hose for ventilation, and all it does is direct the airstream into the cockpit. Just enough oxygen to keep you from suffocating. There’s no cooling otherwise. Wearing full racing gear – fireproof base layers, gloves, mask and helmet – you easily sweat out a liter every half hour. Then there’s the downforce. You notice that the car is optimized for racing. It’s totally crazy: two to five g’s in the corners. The car still has a Le Mans license until 2027, by the way, so I could race at the Le Mans Classics if I wanted to.

But it’s also street legal. How do you get that for a racing car from the 1980s?

I told my mechanic that I wanted to drive it in the city. They managed it somehow. They put in a handbrake and had to install a passenger seat. That seems to be necessary for it to be street legal.

And of course there’s a speedometer. You don’t need one in a racing car, because you drive by engine speed. The rear spoiler had to be removed, for safety reasons, otherwise the car would lose its operating approval. I also can’t drive it on public roads wearing slicks. But apart from that . . . We raised the suspension as much as possible so that we don’t hit every little bump. That was basically it.
And the noise?

We had to fit the car with a muffler to dampen the sound a bit.

How does a racing car like that drive in a city like Stuttgart? Can you reverse park it?

You can. But it’s one of the most exciting experiences or, to put it another way, it’s hell. You have to avoid every manhole cover you come across because the car is that low. It’s loud. And then there’s the turn signal. It’s extremely difficult to operate, especially in the city, as it is mounted as a push button in the center console. The blinker only works while the button is pressed. In other words, if you want to indicate a turn, you end up steering with only one hand. And if you want to change gears at the same time, things get really exciting. This is where a passenger comes in handy.




This takes some practice. Admittedly, Armin Pohl, in the style of a real rally driver, gives sufficient warning of the turns coming up. But the co-driver just isn’t responsive enough during the photo shoot. The rather shameful performance leads Pohl to end the collaboration just half an hour later. From that point on, depending on the situation, he operates the turn signal himself – or ­simply doesn’t indicate his intention to turn.




Is your wife a better co-pilot?

She is. Though she’s never been along for a ride. And she hasn’t explicitly asked to either.

Naturally you’ve already taken it to the racetrack.

This year at Le Mans. We went to the Le Mans Classics with the Supercar Owners Circle and were allowed to drive on the circuit, albeit not in regular competition, but at least for a few hot laps. That was a special experience. I don’t find driving the Ferrari ( … )

→ Read the entire interview in ramp #63.

Michael Köckritz

Michael Köckritz

Editor in Chief
As a journalist, author, artist and media maker, Michael Köckritz succeeds time and again in creating both attention-grabbing and sustainably stimulating impulses in the context of contemporary and future topics as well as lifestyle and luxury worlds. As publisher and editor-in-chief, he has realised a whole series of book and lifestyle magazine formats that have regularly won numerous national and international awards over the years. The car culture magazine ramp, the men's lifestyle magazine rampstyle and the design magazine ramp.design are published internationally and are considered style-setting.
ramp #63 Happy on the Road

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Glücklich auf der Straße? Sowieso. Für ein anständiges Autokulturmagazin ist so ein glückliches Unterwegssein gewissermaßen nur eine bereits konzeptionell hinterlegte Pflichtveranstaltung. Nach und nach – und mit etwas Glück (was sich hier ja fein ins Thema fügt) – entwickeln sich diese Emotionen in der Summe dann vergnüglich zu einer Affektbasis, ...

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