In 1970 Ferrari began production of the 512 S to challenge the Porsche opposition. It was named after its 5-liter V12 engine and the Sport class which it raced in CSIA/FIA events.
Unfortunately, the 512 was largely unsuccessful at upsetting Porsche dominance. Although the 512 was much better balanced, the updated 917 was much faster and could reach speeds of 245 mph.
Chassis 1040 was the first 512 S that was revealed in November of 1969 after an eight month development period by Technical Director Mauro Forghieri. The 512 S was based on the 312 P chassis which had a steel spaceframe reinforced by aluminum panels.
The engine was installed as a semi-stressed member of the chassis. It was a derivative of the Project 241 Can-Am unit and offered 550 bhp at 8500 rpm.
Over the season, the 512 S received various aerodynamic appendages including a long tail for Le Mans. Eventually the entire body was replaced for the 512 M. The front and rear body panels were fabricated in fiberglass by Cigala & Bertinetti, a Torinese boat manufacturer. In 1970, the body was completely revised for the 512 M.
The first season, Ferrari and select customers raced the 512 S to little effect. Only one victory was scored at the Sebring 12 Hours and Porsche won almost every other race.