Home » You Can Buy A Decent Ferrari 400 For Less Than A Base-Model BMW 3 Series, But Would You?

You Can Buy A Decent Ferrari 400 For Less Than A Base-Model BMW 3 Series, But Would You?

Ferrari 400 Ts2
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I’ve got fond childhood memories of endlessly paging through big hardcover books of exotic cars. You might too; I’m talking about those reference-type publishings that always seemed to be on sale at Barnes & Noble and Borders (RIP). One of my faves covered every Ferrari made up until the early ‘90s, and I distinctly recall scowling every time I got to the 400—it looked so bland and out of place compared to the 308, Testarossa, and 348. However, like my infatuation with Diet Coke that I acquired in my late-30s, one day a switch flipped and my opinion did a complete 180: The 400 is a masterpiece.

It’s a boat-like grand tourer with sleek, beautiful lines penned by Pininfarina. Well, boat-like by Ferrari standards; it’s still pretty darn small in the grand scheme of things (though, did weigh over 3,900 pounds). Not only that, but the 400’s got a legendary V12 over its front wheels and a plush leather interior with room for four. It wasn’t officially sold in the USA, but a good number have come over as either gray market or post-25-year-rule imports.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

This handsome 2+2 is also incredibly inexpensive by vintage Ferrari standards; you can buy one for less than $40,000. That got me thinking: Could this be a truly attainable piece of prancing horse worth sinking one’s wallet into? Let’s talk about history and specs, and then run some numbers.

Ferrari 400 Side Hero
Bonhams

A Surprisingly Long Run

The 400’s angular body debuted in 1972 as the 365 GT4, which possessed a 4.4-liter dual-overhead cam V12 that was good for around 320 horsepower and 319 pound-feet of torque. It was an iteration of Ferrari’s beloved Colombo engine that’d been in production since 1947, and when bolted to a five-speed manual gearbox it could clock in a 0-60 mph run in seven-ish seconds.

Images Ferrari 400 1976 1
Bonhams

The 365 turned into the 400 GT in 1976, and with this change came a bump in displacement to 4.8-liters, plus 20 more horsepower and 28 more pound-feet of torque. Three Weber carburetors fed each cylinder bank, and a limited-slip differential put the power down more effectively out back.

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For added grand tour-ability, the 400 was also the first-ever Ferrari available with an automatic transmission, which was a GM-sourced three-speed unit—models with this box are denoted as 400 GT Automatics, or GTAs. A three speed is not the best accompaniment to an iconic V12 symphony, but I get it. The 400 also received hydraulic self-leveling rear suspension to complement the chassis’ front and rear double-wishbone independent suspension.

The 400i arrived in 1979 sporting fuel injection, yet saw a drop in output to 310 horses. It was still available with either a manual or automatic transmission, and received a few minor changes throughout, notably a more modern dashboard and a handful of mild exterior upgrades. 1985 saw the introduction of the final 400 car, the 412, which got a bump in displacement to 4.9-liters and restored output to 340 ponies. By the ’80s, this thing tipped the scales at over 4,000 pounds—what a porker! It ran until 1989, marking 17 years of this gorgeous grand tourer figure gracing dealer showrooms.

Photos Ferrari 400 1976 1
Bonhams

The Value Proposition

The Ferrari 400 lives rent free in my head as something that’d be so fun to cruise around in. That beautiful V12 soundtrack, sumptuous leather interior, great visibility, and reflection on storefront windows while cruising down the street—it’s a daydream for sure.

Ferrari 400 Hero
Bonhams

Though, considering it’s an old Ferrari, I’m not sure that said cruising would last very long. They’re moody to say the least, and enthusiasts report that they experience a variety of different oil leaks, they’re prone to corrosion, the exhaust systems fall apart, their self-leveling suspension systems cause issues (on models equipped with it), they have moody electrics… OK they have more than a few headaches. To get an idea of servicing costs, oil capacity is at 19.5 quarts, and this was when V12s were treated like two separate engines and had two of almost everything: Two ECUs (on 400i), two throttle bodies, even two oil filters.

Graphicdesignismypassion
Bring-A-Trailer

So the juice might not be worth the squeeze. Though, for anyone who’s keen on an automatic model, it’s not unheard of to find them for under $40,000. Project cars?: Almost half of that. Manuals fetch $60,000-$80,000 in good condition.

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Images Ferrari 400 1976 2
Bonhams

Fast forward to me in a year or two, after letting my emotions get the best of me, trying to get a total basket case example to fire up on my driveway. “But it was only $17,000” I say to myself, softly, as tears mixed with power steering fluid and oil run down my face.

Regardless of all the figures and potential maintenance nightmares, what a beautiful lesser-known GT coupe. I’d love to supplement my daydreaming of driving one with seeing one in person at a car show someday.

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Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 month ago

Personally I don’t think these look all that great. If it had a less famous badge, I bet way more people would be making fun of the styling

And I’d rather have an old Ferrari 308 for the same or less money.

Matt Wishart
Matt Wishart
1 month ago

There’s a 400i in my neighbourhood, finished in ‘Blue Sera’ Every time I see it outside a cafe, I stop. Absolutely stunning.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
1 month ago

Yes I would but only one with the automatic and a bad engine, which I would immediately rip out and replace with an LS V8. Goodbye beautiful V12 soundtrack with maintenance woes, hello Corvette soundtrack with reliability and decent fuel economy.

And with savings on fuel and repair bills, I could roast so many tires.

Phil Layshio
Phil Layshio
1 month ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

Or, you could just buy a Corvette and not cousin-fuck that innocent car. Just saying.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
1 month ago
Reply to  Phil Layshio

No. LS swap all the things :p Reliability, fuel economy, and V8 noises are preferable to Italian V12 money pits any day, no matter how good they sound. At the same time, Italian styling is better than Corvette slab-butt. It’s a win-win.

Angry Bob
Angry Bob
1 month ago

I’ll bet my minivan is faster.

Black Peter
Black Peter
1 month ago

The Italian sport sedans are always so maligned, why?
I have always had a soft spot for the 400 series, the DeTomaso Longchamp Deauville, the Maserati Quarto… Oh never mind that one makes sense. I’d take the Longchamp over the Ferrari, because 351

Eslader
Eslader
1 month ago
Reply to  Black Peter

Because some of us like spending more time driving the car than we do fixing the car. 😉

Black Peter
Black Peter
1 month ago
Reply to  Eslader

But this applies to all of the marques I mentioned. I’m wondering why the sedans are more maligned than the sports cars?

Eslader
Eslader
1 month ago
Reply to  Black Peter

Because the type of boring dude who drives a sedan (I’m looking at me, here) is generally much less willing to put up with a bunch of bullshit breakdowns.

Let’s be real about supercars: They attract a certain kind of person, and it’s not the kind of person who prioritizes solid, reliable transportation.

If you’re willing to put up with driving a sedan, then you’re probably not willing to pay supercar prices for one that has all the bad behaviors of a supercar in that it’s in the garage every five minutes, but dulls the reason you get a supercar to begin with: To go fast as hell occasionally and, much more importantly, to be seen driving a supercar by other people.

Weekend warriors don’t care as much about reliability as people who want a fast, fun sedan to get back and forth to work.

Black Peter
Black Peter
1 month ago
Reply to  Eslader

Good answer! Yeah that makes sense..

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
1 month ago

Ooof, tempting folly that is.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
1 month ago

I remember reading something years ago on the 400/412s that said, the reason it’s very hard to find an example in “ferrari red” is because it was the first Ferrari that (for some reason) looks terrible in red.

Otherwise, I’ve always like these (problems and all). But it would have to be a manual. If I wanted that GM 3 speed in a coupe, there are plenty of other options.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bizness Comma Nunya
SlowCarFast
SlowCarFast
1 month ago

No, you don’t see these in red because people who bought them wanted an understated GT car, not a “Look at me!!!” car.

I have an image from the 308GT4 factory warehouse in the 70’s, and out of hundreds of cars heading off into the distance, I can only count seven in bright red, and maybe 10 including burgundy. The whole “Ferraris have to be red!” thing is not universal, although I lot of restorers prefer red.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 month ago

My theory on that is that it’s not a good looking car… and making it red would be like putting lipstick on a pig…

Flyingstitch
Flyingstitch
1 month ago

This is like an E24 translated to Italian. Don’t get me wrong, I love, love, love me an E24. They’re German and Italian takes on the same idea, each gorgeous in its own way.

Bobzdar
Bobzdar
1 month ago

You are 100% correct, which is why I may have bought the project one on BaT. 12 cylinders, 6 carbs and 4 cams…

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
1 month ago

Driving a Ferrari with an automatic transmission is like having sex with five condoms on.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
1 month ago

Like taking a blind man to the Louvre.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 month ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

Or taking a eunuch to a brothel.

Noahwayout
Noahwayout
1 month ago

Having spent some time in a Jaguar XJS V-12, a car of similar intent and purpose, I can honestly say that a manual transmission isn’t at all necessary in the big V12 GT cars of this era. The GM 3-speeds in these cars are surprisingly smooth and pair nicely with a V12. These cars are glorious long distance cruisers – not canyon carvers.

Last edited 1 month ago by Noahwayout
Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
1 month ago

Eh, 40K? Good candidate for an LS swap.

Thebloody_shitposter
Thebloody_shitposter
1 month ago

You like pumpkin spice lattes and Ugg boots as well don’t you?

Last edited 1 month ago by Thebloody_shitposter
Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
1 month ago

No, but i did stay in a Holiday INN Express last night.

LarsVargas
LarsVargas
1 month ago

This is the only Ferrari I like. The 400s are gorgeous. Sadly, while I can afford the car, I cannot afford the upkeep.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
1 month ago
Reply to  LarsVargas

Can you afford a broken 400 and an LS swap?

LarsVargas
LarsVargas
1 month ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

Hmmm….. how much are those custom V12LS engines?

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
1 month ago
Reply to  LarsVargas

Only about $49,300. That might be Australian dollars but after shipping it’ll still cost more than the hypothetical car it’s being put in. And given how powerful regular LS V8s are, an LS V12 may very well shatter the rest of the drivetrain so more beefed-up parts would be needed to handle it.

Still if I won the lottery, I’d rather spend silly money on an LS V12 Ferrari 400 than anything Ferrari makes currently.

Keeping things somewhat budget-minded, a flat-plane crank or 180-degree headers would keep a V8-swapped car sounding somewhat Ferrari-like.

Last edited 1 month ago by Austin Vail
LarsVargas
LarsVargas
1 month ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

I agree on all of those V8 choices. I was thinking V12 just to keep it somewhat authentic, especially the sound. And if I was spending ~$50k on an engine for my ~$45k car, I’d have to throw a transmission behind that engine that could handle the fun.

Totally agree that I’d take this clean design masterpiece over ay modern offerings. Heck, spend $250k – $300k making it a fully custom restomod with the V12, rock crushing transmission, and an updated interior, among a few other improvements to suspension, brakes, etc.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 month ago

Take note modern stylists. One crease, ONE crease, I repeat ONE CREASE down the body is all it took.

Eslader
Eslader
1 month ago

There is a modern-ish car that did that pretty well:

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 month ago

Oh my… (insert deity here)!

Those clear reverse lights nestled in their circumambient amber donuts with their crimson twins tacked closely to their side.

That right there is peak tail light design.

Last edited 1 month ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Ariel E Jones
Ariel E Jones
1 month ago

Have you tried Coke Zero? I don’t drink much of it, but for a no calorie soda, it’s pretty good.
Oh, and a 3sp GM sourced automatic? Oof!

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
1 month ago
Reply to  Ariel E Jones

Hey now, that’s the one inexpensive part to service. And what enables you to replace the unreliable Italian mess with a Chevy V8.

Ariel E Jones
Ariel E Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

I know that for the time 3 speed was pretty normal. And I realize that for a small time automaker to engineer an entire automatic transmission for a few percent of a single model that wasn’t even sold in the US is just unrealistic. It’s just that thinking GM, 3 speed, automatic, in a Ferrari makes my head hurt a little.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
1 month ago
Reply to  Ariel E Jones

On the bright side, in my experience owning a car with a three-speed auto, having only three gear ratios spaced pretty wide apart means the engine has longer and higher to rev in between shifts. In other words, more glorious engine noise, and with a V12 that is not a bad thing at all.

Phil Layshio
Phil Layshio
1 month ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

There goes you and cousin Cletus again. Stick a tree-fiddy in it! Please, just go away.

Noahwayout
Noahwayout
1 month ago
Reply to  Ariel E Jones

These GM 3 speeds are actually quite smooth and very stout. They could also be found in the Jaguar XJS V-12s, many Rolls Royce’s, and even some trucks. Truly not a bad trans for a GT car of this era.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago

Please provide the definition of decent in your case scenario. Running reliable with minimum repairs, maintainence and expense?
No their is NO FERRARI in this genre.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
1 month ago

I always liked this model. Daft Punk used one in a video, driving the most underrated Ferrari in a generic world – Human after all.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago
Reply to  Arrest-me Red

All Ferrari are over rated. If you aren’t Ferrari running the cars you’re screwed, and come to think of it even Ferrari went bankrupt many times trying to keep their cars running.
How bad must a car be if an international billion dollar company can’t afford to keep it running let alone one person owner?

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

A friend of mine had a manual F360 for about five years. Running costs were about the same as his 911 and the only reliability issue was the passenger electric seat fuse would blow if you moved it, so he never moved it.

As a car I wanted to hate it because I had an Elise at the time and compared to that the F360 is a heavy old boat. But it was disarmingly brilliant. Footwell was a bit to small for three pedals and two feet, but otherwise it was a lovely thing to borrow a few times a year. And the noise was just glorious.

The worst thing about it was other people’s reactions to it. Some people get aggressive, so the owner always pretended he’d borrowed it from some rich wanker.

MikeF
MikeF
1 month ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

I’ve owned a 6MT 2001 360 for 13+ years. Regular maintenance is not difficult, just time consuming and annoying if you don’t have a lift. There’s a pretty good community of small shops that can take care of random problems (like, shocks can be rebuilt by a shop in Denmark(?), another can deal w/ECUs, etc).

I absolutely love it. It’s fun driving slow, which is the best compliment I can bestow, even if it sounds backhanded. It has Tubi headers, 200cell cats, and a Tubi muffler. It sounds amazing, if a little on the obnoxious side.

My car is Ti/blk so it’s not too in-your-face. I can’t say I’ve ever noticed negative attention. Car people generally love it. Most others ignore it.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
1 month ago
Reply to  MikeF

13 years with a 360! That must have been amazing. I found it drove just like a big Elise, really engaging even at low speed, like you say. But also comfy, and fast and gorgeous. What did you replace it with? My friend has had 911 GT3s, R8, McLaren and a load of weird classics, but now he’s in a 488.

In the UK some people are miserable bastards, and some of those feel the need to spread the misery. Mostly people are positive towards exotics.

MikeF
MikeF
1 month ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

Still own it! It’s just perfect for me. Good but not outrageous performance. Good reliability. Not too modern. I’ve never come up with a car that I thought was a better total package, or at least better enough for me to spend my money. If I’m honest, I actively avoid driving new stuff so I don’t know what I don’t know, which suits my wallet just fine.

A friend of mine sold his Elise recently and bought a 360. He lives out in the Bay Area and has been having a blast in the canyons. I’m looking forward to reports from Laguna Seca.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
1 month ago
Reply to  MikeF

Never sell it, it’s the sweet spot.

The only thing I’ve driven that’s like a 360 is a Lotus Emira 400. Right size and performance, but you’d be missing that V8 and the looks.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
1 month ago
Reply to  Arrest-me Red

That’s a great fragment of time.

Dingus
Dingus
1 month ago
Reply to  Arrest-me Red

It was Electroma: https://youtu.be/0faPZ8fv3Cs?t=79

The first fifteen minutes is pretty much just them driving it around. There is no lack of screen time for the Ferrari.

Last edited 1 month ago by Dingus
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