Ferrari 512M s/n 1040

Ferrari 512M s/n 1040

The Ferrari 512M was derived from the 512S Group 5 sports racing car. The 512S was originally created to compete against the Porsche 917. A minimum production run of 25 cars was required meet the homologation requirements for Group 5. The Ferrari 512S development car (s/n 1040) was introduced November 6, 1969, after an eight-month design and build period. The chassis was an evolution of the earlier 312P prototype and 612 Can-Am. The cars used a steel tube chassis reinforced with alloyed paneling for strength. The semi-stressed 5 liter engine, a 60 degree V12, was also derived from the Project 241 Can-Am. When the 512S was introduced, the engine was rated 550 bhp at 8500 RPM. The 512S raced in both coupe and spider versions. For the 1970 Le Mans, a long tail (coda lunga) was added to the 512S to increase top speed on the Mulsanne straight. Unlike the Porsche 917—with a fundamental aerodynamic problem—the Ferrari 512S was remarkably reliable when first introduced.

The 1970 Season

The 512S was campaigned by both the Ferrari factory and its customers throughout the 1970 season. But with the exception of a lucky victory at the Sebring 12 Hours, Porsche won every race with its 917 and 908/3 cars. Ferrari’s primary problem was a limited development period prior to the first race of 1970 at Daytona Beach, Florida. The Porsche 917 first raced in May, 1969, at the Spa 1000km event. Although the 917 was the fastest car, it suffered from severe handling problems. The 917s aerodynamic problems were identified at a test session in October 1969, by John Horseman, of the John Wyer Gulf Team. He instructed team mechanics to modify the car, and a new tail section was designed and built. Porsche started the 1970 season with a fast, well-tested, and reliable car. The 512S was close to the Porsche 917 in performance, but Ferrari started the 1970 season with far less development than its Porsche counterpart.

Ferrari 512M Development

After the 1970 Le Mans race, Ferrari Technical Director Mauro Forghieri secured approval to modify the 512S. Enginer Caliri led the development program resulting in the 512M. Aerodynamics was the primary target of change, leading to the development of a wedge-shaped nose profile for the coupe. The first 512M (s/n1010) raced at the 1970 Austrian 1000km race, and was driven by Jacky Ickx and Ignazio Giunti. The car was on a par with the Porsche 917, and led the race until retiring with electrical problems. At the end of the season, Ferrari also entered the car in the 9-Hour race at Kyalami, South Africa. The car was the fastest qualifier, and despite a one-minute penalty in the race, won by over two laps. Ferrari now had a 5-liter Group 5 car capable of beating the Porsche 917.

1971 was the last season of the 5-liter Group 5, and Ferrari made the decision to focus on development of the new Group 6 3-liter 312 PB prototype. This left the racing of the 512M to various private teams. To assist the private owners, the factory produced a kit for the conversion of the 512S to 512M.

Ferrari 512M s/n 1040

Jim Adams raced Ferrari 512S s/n 1040 in the 1970 Can-Am series. Kirk F. White purchased the car, and in partnership with Penske Racing, s/n 1040 was transformed into the best-prepared and fastest 512, capable of beating the Porsche 917.

s/n 1040 at 1970 Watkins Glen Can-Am

1970 WG CanAm 001 

The Penske team stripped the car and s/n1040 was rebuilt to M specifications, and with additional modifications devised by Mark Donohue. The car featured a revised suspension, an Indy Car refueling system, and a full width rear wing. Penske sent two V12 engines to the TRACO engineering company in California for modifications. Finally s/n 1040 was finished in the blue and yellow colors of Penske sponsor Sunoco (Sun Oil Company). The Penske team considered the factory bodywork too expensive and too heavy. To save weight and upgrade to the latest 512M specifications, the Penske team used photographs of the factory 512M racing in South Africa and designed its own 512M bodywork. Body molds and new lightweight bodywork were then made by Berry Plastic-Glass.

For the 1971 season, the Penske team raced s/n1040 in four Group 5 races and one Can-Am race. In the Group 5 races, the team of Mark Donohue and David Hobbs drove s/n1040. The first race was the Daytona 24 Hours, where the immaculately prepared car qualified 1st and was leading or in the leading group until delayed by electrical problems. After getting back into the race, the car was hit by a Porsche 911. The car was taped together and rejoined the race to finish in 3rd place. At its next race, the Sebring 12 Hours, s/n1040 again qualified first. Donohue was running in second when Pedro Rodriguez rammed him. The Penske car lost 19 laps while being repaired and it finished in 6th place.

The car was then shipped to France for the Le Mans 24 Hours. The Porsche 917, with the latest long tail bodywork, had a speed advantage over s/n 1040. The Ferrari qualified 4th and then retired with engine failure in fourth place on Saturday evening. S/N1040 was then entered in the Watkins Glen 6 Hours and again qualified first. Donohue was leading when s/n1040 retired on the 53rd lap with mechanical failure. S/N1040 was then entered in the following day’s Can-Am race and driven by Mark Donohue. Donohue qualified 6th and DNFed.

S/N1040 front line competition career ended with the Watkins Glen Can-Am race. Although s/n1040 was the fastest Ferrari in each of the races it competed, it failed to beat the all-conquering Porsche 917 of the Gulf Wyer team. The s/n1040 was the best prepared of all the cars competing in the 1971 Championship. But with a single car, the Penske team was at a constant disadvantage against the multi-car Porsche teams.

512M 001

Front Suspension Details

512M 007 512M 008

Fuel Filler Details

512M 015

512M 018

Front Oil Cooler

512M 022

Windshield Wiper Assembly

512M 023

Seat Details

512M 025


Electrical Details

512M 027

512M 028

Gear Lever Details

512M 030


Note – The box above the electrical switches is not original

512M 032

Pedal Assembly

512M 033512M 033

Red fire suppression tank is not original

512M 033A

512M 034

Engine Details

512M 039

Oil Tank

512M 041

Left Side Water Radiator

512M 043

Right Side Water Radiator

512M 044


Gearbox & exhaust details

512M 047

512M 048

Ignition and Fuel Injection

512M 051

Rear Suspension Details

512M 054

512M 055

Airbox & rear view mirror details – Bubble over left door is not original

512M 060

Body latch details

512M 062

Rear view mirror is not original

512M 064

Rear wing mounting details


512M 067

Inside of door

512M 069

Rear view mirror

512M 070

For additional information check out the following

Magazine and Article

1970 – May – Road & Track – Ferrari 512 Overview

1971 – March – Motor Sport – 1971 Daytona 24 Hours Race Report

1971 – May – Motor Sport – 1971 Sebring 12 Hours Race Report

1971 – May – Road & Track – 1971 Daytona 24 Hours Race Report

1971 – June – Road &Track – 1971 Sebring 12 Hours Race Report

1971 July Motor Sport 1971 Le Mans 24 Hours Race Report

1971 July Road & Track Ferrari 512 Analysis

1971 September Motor Sport 1971 Watkins Glen 6 Hours Race Report

1971 September Road & Track 1971 Le Mans 24 Hours Race Report

1971 Vol 8 No 7 Model Cars Scale model plans by Roger Taylor

1994 No 84 Cavallino Ferrari 512M s/n 1040 Retrospective Pt 1

1995 No 85 Cavallino Ferrari 512M s/n 1040 Retrospective Pt 2

1995 No 26 Ferrari World Ferrari 512M s/n 1040 Retrospective

2005 No 61 Forza Chinetti vs Penske – Battle of the 512Ms


The Unfair Advantage by Mark Donohue

Ferrari: Sports Racing and Prototype Competition Cars by Antoine Prunet

Automobile Year No 19

Ferrari 312 & 512 Sports Racing Cars by Ian Bamsey

Ferrari The Factory by Karl Ludvigsen

Ferrari Prototype Era by Alan Henry

Scarlet Passion by Anthony Prichard

If your interested in building a scale model of s/n 1040 check out the following:

1/43rd Scale

March Models – Curb Side Kit

Feeling 43 – Superkit with removable body panels

MG Models – Curb Side Kit

1/24th Scale

Fisher Models – Curbside

Model Factory Hiro – Highly detailed with removal panels

1/12th scale

ABC Brianza – Resin kit with opening panels

Total – Resin kit with opening panels

Add a comment if you have other information on s/n 1040

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6 Responses to Ferrari 512M s/n 1040

  1. Bill June 5, 2008 at 1:08 pm #


    I’m looking forward to sharing my motor racing photography and stories


  2. der Don December 13, 2008 at 7:02 am #

    Are you sure it’s the original car on those photos? On old pictures of ’71 and when I saw the car in ’90 it had a way darker colour.

  3. Rich Chernosky April 25, 2010 at 6:17 am #

    What a great site. Only one I used when doing my Fisher Sunoco Ferrari kit. Great reference photos and nice background story. Keep up the good work.

  4. Bill April 26, 2010 at 6:46 am #


    Thanks and I’m glad that you find Track Thoughts to be a helpful reference.

    I’d like to see a photo of the model when you’re done.



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