Steve Cropley was originally employed as a writer/editor of the Australian Auto Magazine, “Wheels”, before emigrating to the UK where he became editor of British Auto magazine, “Car”. He eventually became an impassioned Ferrari owner himself when he bought and wrote about his ownership of an early, lighter fiberglass bodied, carburetor Ferrari 308 GTB — one of the retsina 308’s — before the 308 GTB’s were built with steel bodies. Cropley always communicated his love of Ferraris to his readers.
Ferrari has used varying nomenclatures in naming its cars. In the case of the 365 GT4BB, the 365 is the displacement measurement of each individual cylinder of the 12 cylinder engine. The GT refers to this being a Gran Turismo type car capable of traveling in comfort for long distances. The 4 references that this is a four cam engine, with two cams on each cylinder bank. The BB stands for Berlinetta Boxer. The Berlinetta is a sports coupé typically with two seats, but also including 2 +2 cars.
The Boxer part of Berlinetta Boxer for this series of production Ferrari’s is actually a marketing falsehood. These flat 180 degree twelve cylinder engines are actually flat 180 degree engines with each pair of cylinders sharing a single crankshaft crank journal rather than having 180 degree opposed separate journals seen in true boxer type engines like the VW four cylinder engines or the 6 cylinder 911 Porsche engines. This Ferrari 180 degree flat 12 design of a single crankshaft journal for a cylinder pair was also used by Porsche for its successful racing 12 cylinder 917 Race cars.
So this Ferrari engine, in actuality, has a traditional Ferrari V12 crankshaft architecture with the angle between the cylinders flatted to 180 degrees instead of the traditional 60 degree “Vee” used by the classic Colombo and Lampredi Ferrari V12’s–hence it is a flat 180 degree V12.
The “Boxer” was produced in three distinct series from 1973 to 1984, replace in 1985 by the “Testarossa”
Ferrari has had frequent inconsistencies in naming its cars. In replacing the 365 GT4 BB, the replacement was called the 512 BB (1976-1981) meaning five liter displacement, 12 cylinders, and BB, Berlinetta Boxer. the 512BB was later updated with Bosch fuel injection and became the 512 BBi, with the “i” meaning injection. The BBi was the last series produced from 1981-1984.