Front-Engined V12: 1978 Ferrari 400

For many years, the front-engined, four-seater Ferrari 400 was a red-headed stepchild in the company’s lineup, often one of the cheaper cars you could buy (aside from a Mondial) that wore the prancing horse badge. Its fortunes have shifted slightly in recent years, perhaps due to the rocketing prices of other collectible Ferraris or maybe admission that a four-seater V12 Italian GT isn’t such a bad thing after all. Find this disassembled example here on eBay with one bid to $15K and no reserve.

This is the pre-fuel injection model, so it features a carbureted V12 that’s been removed from the car along with the automatic transmission. The seller notes that the cams have also been removed, and the engine appears otherwise complete in photos (less the air filters assemblies). Body-wise, the top picture appears to show some surface rust on the headlight doors but no other significant rot is noted.

Exposed wiring to this degree in an interior always gives me pause. This is clearly a project that started and was left unfinished as a critical juncture. Did the HVAC panel need to be removed, or was a period alarm system wrecking havoc? Either way, this is a mess for the next owner and could potentially be the source of long-term frustration depending on what problem the previous owner was trying to solve.

The good news is the interior itself appears to be in good shape, and the backseat largely unused. The seller offers no reason for the engine and transmission removal, but does allude to the fact that the 400 repeatedly failed smog inspections in California, so perhaps a frustrated owner figured they’d perform a full rebuild or swap another motor in entirely. Regardless, the 400 is begging for completion, and with no reserve, there could be a bargain in the making.

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  1. Derek

    I wouldn’t want an automatic one, but they’re nice things.

    Oh, and less of the “red-headed stepchild” stuff, eh?

  2. Gordon McGeachy

    With respect, I am not so sure the word “bargain” and “Ferarri” go hand in hand………..if you are a highy experienced Ferrari mechanic with a highy experienced auto electrician with years working on Ferrari’s then this would be potentially a good deal.

    • Bruce

      The engine is not that hard to work on but the problem is that there is so much of it to do and everything needs to be assembled exactly right. Not enough torque and you blow a gasket if you are lucky. I agree about the transmission being automatic but I wonder if one of the newer multi speed transmissions could be a replacement that would enhance performance as well as mileage.

      For those that have not seen on of these in person they are elegant in a Rolls Royce Razor Edge style kind of way. I have always liked them. The electrics however are both time consuming and complex. They can be fixed but I think the new owner needs to be prepared to spend just as much on fixing it as he spends on the purchase. That is if he does much of the work himself.

  3. Mikey j

    Whats that saying about the cheapest Ferrari is the most expensive Ferrari

    • Brian

      “There’s nothing more expensive than a cheap Ferrari”

  4. CCFisher

    Time to strike the phrase “red-headed stepchild” from your lexicon. Not cool.

    • Sidney

      I don’t think the saying has anything cruel to say about the red headed, just the implication that your partner has been less then faithful. Some of the nicest people I know come from that group.

      • CCFisher

        A stepchild is a spouse’s child from a previous marriage. Infidelity has nothing to do with it. Calling something a “red-headed stepchild” implies that it is unwanted. I have red hair, and I can tell you first-hand that red-headed kids put up with enough crap from other kids without adults piling it on. The phrase must die.

      • Sidney

        CC, perhaps I was forgetting the stepchild part of the saying, with that, you are right. Sorry your childhood had mean kids in it. I had a different experience, growing up in a mostly Nordic region, there were plenty light headed, pale skin people around, no one thought any differently about them. The head cheerleader at my high school was a knock out red head, trust me, she had no trouble getting a date. I spose if you grew up in Philly with a bunch of Italians around or something, things might have been different.

      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        Jeez, I am Irish. If I had a dollar for every time I heard the jokes about us, I could buy that burnt bird. What is the differance between an Irish funeral and a Irish wedding? One less drunk. I will laugh untill I am the one less drunk. I do not mind the jokes among friends. All in good fun. And now, every one gets a competition medal. Irish handcuffs? A beer in each hand. Chill.

      • Derek

        I’m Scottish – we have one of the highest percentages of gings going. Those of us so blessed still get a hard time at school. Weird, eh?

        Hence why I’m not into casual slaggings on an international level.

    • SSPBill

      Maybe if we translate to “Il Figliastro Testarossa” it will actually help the value? I hope so. I have always liked these.

    • Icewine

      I believe it would do all of you a lot of good to pop over to YouTube and search out Tim Minchin’s song “Prejudice”. Have a laugh and enjoy!

  5. MikeG

    Oooboy! A cluster of wiring loom issues to track down? If your a masochist, this is your relaxation..,

  6. Dave Suton

    Always liked the look of these. Surprised to find out they are at the bottom of the Ferrari ladder. With a 6 sp swap and a rebuilt motor, this could be fun

  7. SMS

    Had a friend with one. Was always a challenge to pass CA smog test. Enjoyed riding in the backseat. The automatic suited the car.

    His father had a Ferrari V12 GT from the 60’s. Drove that thing over 200k miles. He felt that they needed to be driven to stay problem free.

    I would love to have one, but not this one.

  8. Scot Carr

    ~ Yep, if you can’t afford a good Ferrari then you certainly can’t afford a bad Ferrari !

  9. Mr. TKD

    LS swap it! Lol

    • Country Joe

      Mr. TKD,
      You beat me to it!!!😂😂😂

    • Fiete T.

      With a Tremec box behind it…


    Viper swap that puppy…and don’t dare open the bonnet at cars and coffee.😎

  11. Jared W Kotler

    I’m a freak for the redheads!

  12. Mikey j

    Or a gmc v12 aka 2 305 v6s welded together

  13. AGS

    This Ferrari plus the engine and drivetrain from the wrecked ZR1 would make one great resto mod!

  14. James

    Pop off the steering wheel/Ferrari tags and hang them in your man cave, turn the engine into a coffee table and sell the rest to someone with more dollars than sense. ;)

  15. jim Member

    Living in Boston in the late 1960’s, I had a 275 convertible. It absolutely never failed me, even when left out in the snow for a month, ran perfectly with very little professional help. Not sure why evryone badmouths these wonderful cars.

  16. Ron Robinson Member

    Agree with Bruce and others. The 400i is a handsome Ferrari. Almost bought a near perfect black one at Hinsdale, Ill Ferrari 20 yrs ago. $40k. 400i’s were never emission Federalized at the factory for US market. Each one was imported under some specialized papers, I don’t remember specifics.

  17. t-bone Bob

    too much work

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