The Real Meaning Of The Ferrari BB Abbreviation

The Real Meaning Of The Ferrari BB Abbreviation

A Leonardo Fioravanti, Angelo Bellei and Sergio Scaglietti fantasy?

Even massive Ferrari fans like ourselves still learn about the brand every day.

The real meaning of BB

You could write several books on Ferrari names. Through the years, the marque used engine displacements and such as numbers, as well as cities and countries to refer to certain models and abbreviations to categorize their cars. One of those abbreviations, BB, has been a point of discussion for many years. BB was first used on the Ferrari 365 GT4 BB in 1971 and officially stands for Berlinetta Boxer, so what exactly is the issue here?

The Real Meaning Of The Ferrari BB Abbreviation

The problem with this meaning is the fact that the car is not powered by a boxer-engine, but a 180° flat-12 engine. According to TOFM: “From a mechanical standpoint, the difference is remarkable and clearly noticeable in the boxer's crankshaft, which looks different and seems to push the pistons against each other (hence its name).” Though it was not correct, Ferrari still continued to use the BB abbreviation as Berlinetta Boxer.

There are two stories behind the real meaning of the BB acronym.

Berlinetta Bialbero

From a mechanical point of view, this could be the case as Bialbero translates to dual camshaft in Italian. The Ferrari 365 BB had twin overhead camshafts – two per cylinder – and the fact that they were belt-driven instead of chain-driven introduced another new development. This was stated by the engineer of the project, Mauro Forghieri, in an interview with Davide Cironi.

Brigitte Bardot

Brigitte Bardot The Bear and the Doll (1970)

Brigitte Bardot, The Bear and the Doll (1970)

A far more idyllic story would be the one where BB stands for Brigitte Bardot, the iconic French actress and singer. During development of the Ferrari 365, Leonardo Fioravanti, Angelo Bellei and Sergio Scaglietti, among others, started referring to the car with Brigitte Bardot’s acronym, which was B.B. This was because they considered the prototype to be exceptionally beautiful, like Bardot herself. Ferrari thought naming a car after a woman was simply not done, and thus stuck with the Berlinetta Boxer meaning.

We like to believe it’s the latter story.

Ferrari flat-12 bloodline

We were aware of the fact the Ferrari 365 GT/4 BB did not feature a boxer engine, but never questioned why it was still called the ‘Berlinetta Boxer’. That is, until we watched this video by ISSIMI Official, which is definitely a channel you should subscribe to if you’re a car fanatic. The presenter, Jason Cammisa, discusses whether the Ferrari flat-12 bloodline – starting with the 365 GT/4 BB – was a 23-year long mistake. Rather than it actually being a mistake, it was actually a better GT car than a sports car.

The Real Meaning Of The Ferrari BB Abbreviation

The Ferrari 365 GT/4 BB was going to be the first mid-engine Ferrari (excluding the Dino range). Fitting a flat-12 engine in the rear of a sports car was quite the challenge, but as Lamborghini proved with the Miura, it was actually possible. The 365 BB’s design was done by Pininfarina under Leonardo Fioravanti and inspired by the Ferrari P6 concept car of 1968. As of today, Ferrari still offers a mid-engine car.

Sources: ISSIMI Official and TOFM 

Written by Max Lammers.

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