Ferrari which had abandoned sports car racing in the late 1960's decided to re-enter the fray in 1970.
The new rules governing sportscar racing had been change to require engine size of five liters
for the prototype class but that a total of 50 cars -later changed to 25 cars-be built. Perhaps to
counter Porsche which was set to dominate this class with the 917, Ferrari built and entered the 512S.
Ferrari's decision to enter the prototype class was a risky one given the cost of developing
a completely new car and that Porsche already had a well developed car in the 917. Enzo who
had recently sold a potion of his company to Fiat had the money to spend and so decided to take
up the challenge of the 917 with the 512S.
The resulting car was more aggressive looking than the 330 P4 and featured a 5L flat boxer engine
with double overhead cams and four valves per cylinder. This boxer engine would later find itself
the roadgoing 512BBi and later in the Testarossa and 512TR. Power output was similar to the 917 at 550hp
but despite this the 512S had some inherent disadvantages. One of these was that unlike the 917,
the 512S was water cooled and therefore need radiators which added weight to the front end of the car.
Perhaps the main disadvantage was the lack of development time and Ferrari's absence over
the previous 3 years from endurance racing. These disadvantaged showed since although
the 512S was competitive the 917 dominated the series winning 9 of the series 10 races and the
1970 Sportscars World championship. The 512S sole victory came in the 12hours of Sebring.
Ferrari seeing the writing on the wall abandoned he 512S and for the 1971 and 1972 season
raced the 312PB which was more successful. The 512 was left to privateers including Penske
who perhaps taking Ferrari's lead also later abandoned the 512 to champion the 917 in the Can Am series.