After winning 12 titles in 16 years of participating in the World Sportscar Championship, Ferrari announced they would not enter a car in the competition in 1968, as a form of protest against the new regulations that limited the cylindrage to 3000 cc. Meanwhile, seizing this transition period, the Porsche 917 won in every circuit. Wishing to clean their name from this outrage, Ferrari hurriedly prepared their return with a rival prototype. And so, a year after its opponent, 25 red vehicles were lined up in the Maranello factory: the 512 S, Ferrari's answer...
From the start, this model revealed itself to be competitive, in spite of its delay compared to its rival. Various tweakings and aerodynamic corrections were rapidly introduced and in the training sessions for the first official contest, the 24 Hours of Daytona, both prototypes seemed to be at the same level. But the race came to show Ferrari's lack of build, a consequence of their quick preparation. However, as time went by, the 512 S revealed itself a frightful machine at the hands of drivers such as Jacky Ickx, Mario Andretti or Arturo Merzario.
In spite of its potential, the 512 S didn't manage to win against its powerful rival and, at the end of the 1970 season, a new version was prepared: the motor's power was increased, the car was redesigned, looking similar to the Porsche 917 in the backside, and a decrease in the overall weight was managed. This new version was called 512 M - M for modificata - and was revealed to be extremely promising. It was expected that the next season would mark the return to victory, but Enzo Ferrari prefered to dedicate himself to the development of his own prototype, that would arrogantly dominate the 1972 season.
And, thus, in 1971 we only watched it run in private teams. The 512's longevity was short; it was probably a mistake, a whim that should never have been produced. But if it hadn't been so, this beautiful automobile wouldn't exist, one of the brand's most elegant prototypes, in my opinion, only surpassed by the fabulous P4. Its lines are a mix of elegance and aggressiveness from any point of view and in any version. If the Porsche 917 was the last of the monsters, the 512 was the last of the prototypes.
More photos in the Gallery.
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