1978 Ferrari 512 BB Koenig – Classified of the Week

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Dale Vinten

What do you do when your brand new 1978, 360bhp Ferrari 512 BB just isn’t quick enough? As far as problems go it’s a pretty nice one to have to be fair. It sure as hell beats the myriad mundane issues that we mere mortals have to deal with on the regular. A leaky tap perhaps, or too much rain when it’s mid-June maybe. Certainly not super car performance woes. Despite being a distinctly first world problem there is a rather simple solution, however. You make a call to a certain Mr König at Koenig Specials and he transforms your already impressive whip into an unhinged psychopath on wheels by strapping not one, but two turbochargers to its 5-litre, flat-12 engine. Madness or genius? We’ll let you decide, but we know which side of that particular fence we’re cheering from, and it rhymes with gastrocnemius.

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People have been tuning cars and slapping on muscular body kits for decades, both professionally and at home in garages and workshops around the world but nobody was really tweaking super cars and exotics back in the ’70s. It was believed that these bastions of brake horsepower were untouchable, already at the peak of performance, so there wasn’t any point in further fettling. That was until Willy König decided that his very own, brand new 1974 Ferrari 365 BB was a little, how shall we say, underwhelming. Sure, OK Willy, whatever you say. If any one of us were to jump into a factory fresh 365 BB in period that certainly wouldn’t be our first thought. Or one hundred and first for that matter.

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But König was used to speed having raced various cars since ’61, beginning with a Cooper acquired from F1 driver Wolfgang Graf Berghe von Trips. Over the ensuing decades, König would continue to race in many high profile races, and indeed cars, including the Ford GT40 and BMW M1 Procar series, to name just two examples and it was this knowledge and experience of racing, as well as
the intimate relationships forged with professional racing teams, engineers and designers that provided the necessary know how when it came to tuning.

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Beginning as a hobby with the aforementioned 365 this love of tuning would flourish into a full blown company in ’77 with the founding of Koenig Specials. König had gone from fitting crude modifications to a bona fide tuning house and it wasn’t long before others came knocking wanting similar tweaks to their cars, including numerous celebrity endorsements, and the company would branch out to include the likes of Mercedes, Porsche and BMW, among others.

Opinion was divided, however. Some thought what Koenig Specials (we’ll be using the official company name from here on out) was doing was sacrilegious, akin to painting sunglasses on the Mona Lisa or adding a pair of boxers to Michelangelo’s David and Enzo Ferrari famously had them legally remove all prancing horse badges from its cars once modified stating that they were no longer Ferraris.

However you feel about things though you can’t deny it was a bold move by a company that produced some bold cars, including this particular 1978 Ferrari 512 BB, available from our good friends at the Classic Motor Hub in the heart of the Cotswolds. Martin Chisholm and the amazing team there have built up a reputation for excellence and have been selling the cream of the classic crop for years so it comes as no surprise that a car like this should be up for grabs.

A period twin-turbo conversion by Koenig Specials this Ferrari 512 BB represents the height of what Willy and engine-builder Franz Albert were offering at the time. Three performance levels were available for the 512 BB, ranging from ‘subtle’ mods that increased power to around 370bhp and a 450bhp option with Mahle pistons and modified cylinder heads, through to the full fat experience that added twin turbos, Mahle pistons, a racing exhaust, and fuel injection in place of the original carburettors that boosted power to well over 600bhp.

And that’s exactly the treatment applied to this car, which means a top speed of 206mph and 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds! Not only that but Vittorio Strosek produced a fibreglass body kit to beef up the car’s looks. From flared wheel arches and side air intakes to front and rear spoilers it’s an imposing beast, not to mention rare, with there being only around 50 examples thought to have been produced with few of those being top spec versions such as this.

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Converted to Koenig specification in 1982 this incredibly low mileage 512 BB has recently undergone reconditioning work at Modena Engineering and is in superb condition throughout. Koenig Specials as a company may now be a shadow of its former self but the cars that it breathed on will forever be a wonderfully exciting glimpse into the world of tuning and what’s possible to achieve should you have the will, no matter the muse or canvas.

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