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Ferrari 412

Ferrari 412 Published: 27th Oct 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Ferrari 412
Ferrari 412
Ferrari 412
Ferrari 412
Ferrari 412
Ferrari 412
Ferrari 412
Ferrari 412
Ferrari 412
Ferrari 412
Ferrari 412
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The four-seater 412 – in manual form – is an extremely rare model with classic appeal, which the market is only just waking up to, says Peter Vaughan

Ferraris are red, have a V8 in the middle (behind the two seats) and make the sort of noise that even bystanders with their hearing aids switched off simply cannot ignore. That, it seems, is the modern view of the Prancing Horse I readily admit, though, that when buying my first Ferrari I followed all the stereotypes – and thoroughly enjoyed seven years with a 328 GTS, bought because I was about to turn 40 and had wanted one since my school days. Having put 20,000 miles on that car, even taking it on the track at Silverstone, it was time to move on however. Re-married and with a growing family, a two-seater was becoming harder to justify and more difficult to find time to use. So what to get next?


Now, I’d owned a Fiat, a Lancia and several Alfas, in addition to the 328, so maybe a Maserati should be next? A 4200 Coupé seemed to offer more practicality and modernity, but it didn’t take long to understand that it would also bring unreliability, bills and a dearth of real charisma. And, in any case, I’d miss the camaraderie of the Ferrari Owner’s Clubs’ Anglia section. Perhaps, staying closer to what I knew, with a pleasingly affordable Mondial, would make sense? One test drive in a Mondial t – the last, quickest and prettiest of the breed – put that idea behind me. Even the salesman at Duncan Hamilton’s said, “you won’t like that after a 328…” He was right.

The Bertone-designed 308 GT4 appealed more and a black car at a dealer in Surrey looked sensational, drove well and sounded even better than my 328. But I got there too late and it went to Japan, not with me to Lincolnshire.

In the meantime, though, I started to wonder if I could afford a V12. That would give me a real reason to change. A 456 seemed to have the lot, but before going to view one I called John Pogson of Italia Autosport who had not only looked after my 328 with advice and dedication that I couldn’t find elsewhere. I’ll never forget his response to my 456 idea: “It’ll eat your wallet!” But he did have another suggestion – the 365 GT4 2+2, 400 or 412 series, as long as it was a manual gearbox car. Now, this sounded more like it, especially as John predicted that he could keep my overall running costs (fuel aside) down to 10 per cent more than the 328. Only the £2k-plus for a complete stainlesssteel exhaust system sounded a bit scary. But, hey, this is a classic V12 Ferrari that we’re talking about. Surely, classic motoring gets no more exalted than that. The hunt was on…

The first car I found was a red 412. Now, big four-seater Ferraris look about as right in ‘rosso’ as I – a little overweight and approaching 50 – do in running shoes and a tracksuit. But there were only ever 24 right-hand drive manual 412s made, so I reckoned I needed to – at the very least – see and drive this one. Fortunately, though, the well-known dealer mucked me around so much that I never did either.

In frustration, my internet searches became more regular, until one Friday evening, another manual 412 popped up on Google. It was black – not my favourite colour, usually – and boasted a radio celebrity as a previous owner. It took about 10 seconds to work out that Chris Evans’ name was on the logbook and about another 10 to ring Forza 288 and arrange to go and see the car.


The man I listened to every morning had only had the car for 17 months (having previously had an automatic 412 in his fleet, I believe) but he’d racked up about 4000 miles in that time. Good; this wasn’t the usual locked-up-and-never-used Ferrari that would become a money-pit as soon as I started to actually drive it.

Not only that, but it was the only one ever made to this spec (RHD, metallic black, blue leather) and had started life as a demonstrator at UK importers, Maranello

Concessionaires. It was also tested in period by the much missed Fast Lane magazine. Peter Dron, writing the March 1988 cover story, said that he preferred the 412 to the Testarossa, describing it as “more fun to drive quickly” before going to call the front-engined car’s road manners “close to perfection.”

So, a deal was soon done and I parted with my much-loved 328. What I couldn’t have predicted is what a ‘keeper’ the 412 has become. With its injection engine, the 412 starts ‘on the button’ every time like a newer car, while its boot is big enough to house the biggest of modern pushchairs – or holiday gear for a week away (not just a toothbrush as in a two-seater). With power steering and good visibility (not just forward over that long bonnet, but all around, as the cabin is light and airy, without the thick pillars of a ‘modern’), 412 motoring is stress-free.

Only its turning circle (similar to that of one of Mr Stobart’s vehicles) mars its ease of use. What I do want to do, though, is drive the 412 all the time. With a five-speed manual gearbox it feels like a proper Ferrari (why would anyone want a three-speed auto?), and the 412 can trace its lineage back to Ferrari greats like the Daytona. Unlike the later 456, this car’s V12 is the last of that dynasty and it sounds epic.

Not loud or shouty, but smooth, cultured and with a deep bellow further round the rev counter that could not be mustered by anything of fewer cubic inches. After all, it has 340 horsepower, enough for 155mph and 0-60 in 6.4 seconds. As Fast Lane pointed out, it is also “vastly superior to its predecessor”, the 400, which it said was “an ergonomic mess” unlike the 412, which was portrayed as being closer in interior style to a Porsche 928 with “more extensive use of leather than in almost any other car.”

It is also comfortable enough to drive all day long. You can easily understand how these cars were designed to traverse continents in one stint, stopping only for fuel. And, perhaps, for Veuve Clicquot and Beluga caviar, for back in 1987 this car cost almost seventy grand – more than half as much again as a 328 and close to £200k in today’s money. At least they didn’t list any optional extras on the price list!

The 412 was also the end of the line for a style of Ferrari that can be traced back to the 365 GT4 2+2 of 1972. But this final derivative is by far the best resolved, its higher boot line creating a more balanced profile, while the colour-coded bumpers and classic five-spoke alloys simply complete an elegant form that was apparently a favourite of Car magazine’s fabled writer, LJK Setright, as well as Lotus designer, Peter Stevens.

The styling is not only instantly recognisable as a Pininfarina masterpiece but clearly a Ferrari classic, a world away from the lessthan- elegant F12, 599 and so on. Collectors and investors have long overlooked the 412 (and its relatives), though, meaning that some have been unloved. Now that is, finally, beginning to change, with dealers seeking £60-70k for the best manual examples.

I’m not sure that I want their values to climb higher, though the 412 is surely a better – and better looking – car than, say, a 330 GT 2+2 at £300k-plus. Higher values mean more expensive insurance and greater worry, and not to use a 412 is a serious crime. Mine has collected my newborn son from hospital (in January) and delivered me to my wedding before a honeymoon in France.

Running it isn’t cheap, but only the price of metric Michelins really grates – at £350 a pop. In fact, my last service at Italia Autosport (now that it is properly sorted) was the least I’ve spent in one year in a decade of Ferrari ownership. However, the last word belongs to a former owner of my 412, who when asking if I might be tempted to sell it back to him, said, “I have had a Daytona recently and a 250 GT Ellena but neither car is as nice as the 412GT.” With only 24 made, perhaps it’s a good thing that not many people know what they are missing by owning a 412…


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