Ferrari Boxer

I fell in love with the Ferrari Boxer because of its stunning good looks (yes I'm a typically male). Whether or not it was a sensible car to own was irrelevant and, in retrospect, perhaps no, it wasn't.

It was so impractical that there was no way on earth it would have passed the United States of America safety and environmental regulations so it would have been illegal to sell one in the States. They were made, however, in both left and right hand drive form and more than one wealthy American bought a left-hand drive Boxer in Europe and then exported it home to America; a very expensive process but then there always has been people with more money than sense.

And this really was a nonsensical car.

Where do we start? Yes this is one powerful car with a 4.4 litre flat 12 cylinder engine sat more or less amidships; the first mid-engined production car that Ferrari made. With acceleration from nought to 60 of around 5.2 seconds and a top speed of 186 mph this was one vary very fast machine! However for most people it was an absolute pig to drive.

When a driver first got into the car; once the complex way of working the door handles had been mastered; the gearlever was usually right next to that poor motorist's leg. That wouldn't have been such a problem if it wasn't for the fact that the foot controls were offset; which again wouldn't have been such a problem if the foot well didn't taper to the extent that there was scarcely room in it for two feet! How many people hit the throttle instead of the brake, or the brake instead are throttle, would be an interesting statistic to calculate. The power steering was pretty ineffective for the very good reason that there wasn't any. At low speeds steering was extremely heavy and it was only at high speed that it got lighter.

Theoretically, mounting the engine amidships should have given it stability but it was still no great shakes; handling was poor particularly if the driver was not experienced with the layout of the gears and pedals.

The boot was in the front and to get at it meant that pretty much the entire front half of the car had to be raised; the spare wheel was in there but it was so narrow that driving it at any sort of speed with it fitted would have been close to suicidal.

As a two seater space for a passenger was reasonably adequate provided that this person didn't mind having the huge windscreen wiper assembly in it's parked position obscuring most of the forward view! And speaking of views; the tiny window to the rear meant that only someone with the eyesight of a Superman could really see what was going on behind the car, and the single mirror by the driver's door (there was none on the passenger side) didn't really help much either.

However it is very doubtful if many Ferrari Boxer drivers were too worried about what was behind! This car was designed to be driven hard and fast and it was a very exhilarating experience indeed for those who could handle the beast and it's unusual layout.

The Boxer stayed in production after several updates right up to 1984 but a lack of racing success didn't help it's image. Eventually only about 2300 of them were sold, a fraction of the number that such a beautiful and high performance car really should have achieved.

Nevertheless it still remains one of the most beautiful cars ever created and this is why you would be extremely fortunate ever to see one out on the road; the majority of those that still exist are locked up in garages or museums, where they can be looked at, but not touched.

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