Magazine Cover - Classic Cars For Sale - 1000s of Classic Car Reviews, How To Service & Maintenance Guides

Ferrari 400 Series

Published: 21st Apr 2011 - 2 Comments

Ferrari 400 Series
Comfy cabin marks this Ferrari out as a GT Comfy cabin marks this Ferrari out as a GT
Auto box popular pick, not as bad as you’d imagine thanks to lusty V12 Auto box popular pick, not as bad as you’d imagine thanks to lusty V12
Magnificent V12 lasts the distance but even routine service items are very dear Magnificent V12 lasts the distance but even routine service items are very dear
Exhausts are hugely expensive if manifolds let go at the same time Exhausts are hugely expensive if manifolds let go at the same time
Quality tyres are a must. Are rims okay? Quality tyres are a must. Are rims okay?
The latest issue of Classic Cars For Sale is on sale now - Pick up your copy from all good newsagents including WHSmith or click here to subscribe now

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 20%

Subscribe NOW

Available at all good newsagents including WHSmith

What is a Ferrari 400?

It’s the Ferrari that you can buy for the price of a new Fiat Panda – and squeeze a small family in it, too! The 400 was one of those rare Ferraris that was designed for more than two and is fairly usable – so long as you buy with care. Certainly there’s no cheaper way to get into a Ferrari and unfashionable as this car most certainly is, this sharp-styled 2+2 was the preferred transport for the likes of many Ferrari F1 drivers during the 1970s.

History

The name 400 is rather misleading as the car first surfaced back in 1973 as the 365 GT4 (the number being the actual cubic capacity size of the engine’s bore would you believe, which to save you the Carol Vorderman bit equates to 4380cc). Looking very 70’s this square cut coupe became the 400 in 1976 when that fabulous Tipo V12 was stretched to 4.8-litres, increasing the power from 320bhp to 340bhp.

This car also scored a first it being the only Ferrari to be offered as an automatic. Sacrilege to many, we know but at one point sales of the self-shifter virtually killed off the manual car as it suited the lusty V12 well, plus complemented the car’s lush appointments, which included leather trim and power seating. It was more a GT than sports job, but this Ferrari was a very good 150mph autostrada blaster all the same.

In 1979 the V12 was fuel injected, dropping power to 310bhp but dramatically improving its drivability (it’s the popular Bosch K-Jetronic system by the way). Three years later power was upped to 315bhp and the self-leveling rear suspension was tuned by using Koni dampers. With the car now 12 years old, a major revamp saw the 412 introduced: the engine became a rousing 5-litre (340bhp) while subtle styling changes inside and out (new wheels and low profile tyres, light clusters, door panels etc) seemed to do the business. Despite the auto’s popularity, the 412 was sold only as a manual.The end of the 1990s signified the end of this family Ferrari, which with overall sales tipping 2900 was a surprising success.

Driving

It’s Ferrari, so any journey will be a sense of occasion but that said the 400 series is an acquired taste. It’s a big, heavy old beast with the engine up front, so don’t expect it to handle like a Dino. Some reckon it’s a bit of a dinosaur (but to be fair this Ferrari is no worse than say an Aston DBS or a TR6) while other Ferrari fans think it handles pretty well for its size and age. To be fair just the thrill of holding that Prancing Horse badged steering wheel will be satisfying enough for most of us!

Despite its massive, V12 providing such a wonderful soundtrack (who needs a stereo?) performance isn’t as rapid as you’d think being only hot hatch fast. And when you do use all that poke, just watch the fuel gauge move south! Even gentle cruising, for which the 400 excels, you’d be lucky to see 15mpg and perhaps 10mpg is a more realistic figure.

There’s a reasonable amount of room in the back for two very small bambinos and the boot is okay, making this Ferrari fairly family friendly.

Prices

Do you want a cheap Ferrari or a good one? The two just don’t mix and while there are plenty of 400s selling for Mondeo money be very wary warn the experts. Really, a good well-preserved motor will cost around £8-10,000 while we’ve heard of top no expense spared 412s touching £20 grand! Expensive? Not when you consider the badge you are getting for a fraction of its new screen price and the savings in repairsyou’ll reap in the long run. You pay for what you get with this Ferrari…

What To Look For

This is a Ferrari that’s fairly unloved and prices reflect this attitude. Worse still many cars have been neglected and are real liabilities.

When asked to give his view on the car, Ferrari expert Nick Cartwright simply said “oh dear!’ to us. Pressed further he reckons they are pretty awful things that are only bought on price.

On the other hand Simon Furlonger of the Ferrari Centre reckons that the 365/400/412 are excellent cars and fantastic value – provided you get a good one. “It’s for those who want to move up from say a Golf GTi but can’t afford a 456,” he says although reckons that for the same money a later Mondial is the better bet.

Somewhere in the middle is East Sussexbased Rosneath Engineering (01892 770032). Proprietor Phil Stafford says reckons the 400 series is great but not really the the first choice to cut your teeth in Ferrari ownership – Mondials or a GT4s are safer bets.

Mike Wheeler who is associated to Rardley Motors, has extensive experience of the model and is a bit of a fan of the car. He says the biggest fears are body rot and the cost of new exhausts, and while admitting that the 365/400/412 will never become collectable like other prancing horses says that the Ferrari badge will always make it a classic – of sorts.

The biggest problems with these cars is their sordid pasts. True, there are some well-kept examples but most have been neglected due to the sheer cost of servicing and repairs. Even if you use the car sparingly (and at around 10mpg to the gallon you probably will…) expect annual maintenance bills of £1500-2000 although Nick Cartwright says it difficult to know when to stop when it comes to fixing neglected cars…

Rust is naturally a worry with any oldie let alone an Italian but the 365/40 doesn’t fare any worse than normal. The chassis is reasonably robust (although only a fool would buy one without a prior inspection of the underside) but check the sills and all structural members. It’s the body panels that become frilly quickly, especially the sills, door bottoms, wings and around the windscreens. Panels are very pricey to obtain and fit. Check for poor and penny pinching accident repair damage – of course.

Mechanically this Ferrari is as rugged as a truck, especially that glorious V12 engine. If maintained to spec then it can last a long time. Look for the usual; smoking under power, lowly oil pressure, oil leaks and out of tune carbs. All those Webers are pricey to overhaul but the trusty Bosch K-Jetronic injection keeps its tune better although makes for a slower car.

Servicing will always be pricey even if you want to do it yourself. For example, the V12 takes two sets of cb points and if you buy from Ferrari they barely leave loose change out of £100! A new dissy cap costs £170, with a set of leads six quid more. And the engine consumes 19-litres of oil… So as you can see, a simple oil and filter change plus a tune up can cost up to £500. Small wonder that so many ageing cars were neglected by cash-strapped owners, who probably had no right to try to run such an exotic motor in the first place…

Exhausts rot quickly and can cost up to £1600 from Ferrari. Likewise the manifolds can quit due to age. A set of four costs £1650 – so don’t dismiss any exhaust blows lightly!

The rest of the mechanicals are quite conventional and tough although make a special note of the self leveling rear suspension. It can play up and the usual repair is to now fit conventional (adjustable) Koni dampers. Talking of handling, are good quality tyres fitted – or more likely some cheapo brand to save money.

The leather trim can become shabby and look for broken trim, dropped doors and some of the fripperies (such as power seats) not operating properly. Check that everything works and that a quality battery is fitted.

The problem with the 365/400 is that because there is no real value to these cars, they are not worth renovating and so make-do-and-mend fixes take over. Indeed, such is the pittance scrappy ones sell for that – if you have the space – it’s worth buying one for spare parts alone.

Verdict

Like or loathe this family Ferrari but there’s no denying that it represents an awful lot of super car for your money and a good one looks spectacular value. But that’s the problem – getting a good one! As the vast majority are so temptingly priced it’s easy for dreamers to buy their first Ferrari – blind to all the pitfalls and faults – and live to regret it, because while the 400 is cheap to buy, it is NOT CHEAP TO RUN. Moving up from an MGB GT or from a hot hatch to a Prancing Horse for comparative loose change looks tempting for sure, but don’t buy this car without your eyes wide open and those rose-tinted specs firmly in your (soon to be penniless) pocket



User Comments

This review has 2 comments

  • a few inconsistencies in the article, production finished in late 1980s not 90s and 412 was not manual only, in fact more autos sold than manuals. Good 400/412 now going for way over £20k, Recently 412 manual in exc con went for over £40k !

    Comment by: rob     Posted on: 10 Jun 2011 at 10:50 AM

  • Thanks for the comments; to be fair it's a fairly old report so the prices may be incorrect. As for the other info it came from a respected Ferrari specialist

    Comment by: Editor     Posted on: 30 Jul 2011 at 09:45 AM

Leave a comment

Keep it polite and on topic. Your email address will not be published. Please do not advertise products, all posts of this nature will be removed. We do not stock or supply any of these products, we independently review these products.