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Rare Manual GT: 17K-Mile 1980 Ferrari 400i

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to explore a private collection that featured an emphasis on four-seater GT cars. It was my first opportunity to experience a 400i up close, and I came away absolutely smitten with the car. Like many of us, I never paid much attention to these big GTs, but “big” is relative as these are still very lithe machines with a limited footprint despite having the ability to ferry rear-seat passengers. The 400i shown here is desirable not only for being a survivor but also for having the elusive manual gearbox. Find it here on eBay where bidding is at $35,000 with the reserve unmet.

It’s strange to think that for many years, casual observers of the sports car market might think Ferrari only made the 308/328 coupe, much like they might assume Lamborghini never made a car called the Espada. In the 70s and into the 80s, four-seater GT cars were in their prime, with options available from almost every major sports car manufacturer at the time. Whether these models could be considered a sales success is obviously a discussion better left to someone with actual production and sales numbers, but today, they represent a small quadrant of hope for those of us that yearn for a vintage sports car that doesn’t cost six figures.

The 400i was never officially imported to the U.S., so what we’re looking at here is likely a gray market car that was federalized at some point and made legal for road use here in the states. The seller’s car impressively has just 17K miles on the clock and was purportedly in storage for many years, so perhaps it was the unloved member of a Ferrari collection that picked up the four-seater cheaply way back when. Who knows what lead to it being parked for so long, but we do know this: old Italian sports cars do not like to sit idle. The interior has held up well, however, so hopefully, it didn’t require too much detailing once discovered.

According to Petrolicious, “…the Turbo-Hydramatic 400 automatic…was the choice for two of every three examples of the 400i.” With this in mind, the manual gearbox in this car just got even more special. The seller did address some deferred maintenance once the 400i was removed from captivity and the injected V12 benefits from rebuilt fuel pumps, new plugs, new cap and rotor, fresh fluids, a new battery, and a few other must-do items when waking a car up. The seller claims it runs well and is still a quick car, but that the exhaust is loud; a used replacement from another low-mileage 400i is included in the sale. Which four-seater Italian is your favorite?

Comments

  1. alphasud Member

    I worked on a customers car at the Alfa Dealer. His was the THM400 transmission. The automatic transmission is a stout unit but it’s also very power hungry so I’m sure the 5-speed really wakes this car up. These have long been a hidden bargain and I place these with the likes of a Jag XJR or a Porsche 928 for being a powerful cruiser. The Ferrari is awfully thirsty but with the 5-speed you might see mid teens. One thing for sure it’s the cheapest Ferrari V12 you can own.

    Like 10
    • FrankD Member

      I use to help a friend who did High End restorations on MB Gullwing’s, Porsche 356’s Pantera’s and Mangusta’s and a few other makes. He did a restoration a 400. I was disassembling the driver’s door panel to my surprise the window mechanism used a piano type wire on phenolic or fiber pulleys. I had to draw a diagram before I pulled it apart. The 400’s ride nice!

      Like 1
  2. Dave Suton

    Without looking at the books and records, this could be a huge money pit considering that V12 has sat so long. One of my favorites, but you better have Tony on speed dial and deep pockets.

    Like 4
    • E

      Agreed, it always makes me sad seeing these cars go for such reasonable prices knowing there’s at least another digit waiting for the buyer in maintenance costs. At least it will sound nice on the highway!

      Like 2
  3. wuzjeepnowsaab

    These are bargains in that 80’s Ferrari window. Never got the love they deserve and still a lot of people look down on them. Me? I love a front engine prancing horse and as a gt it’s even better

    Like 6
    • Emel

      Really…..people look down on Ferrari’s ? Can’t imagine.
      I guess they would also look down on Austin Martin’s & Porsches,
      But they love em a Chevy.

      Like 4
      • scottymac

        Emil: I look down on Austin Martins, too. Now, an Aston Martin, that’s a whole different matter!

        Like 5
      • Howie

        He does not mean people look down on Ferrari’s, he means people look down on this model, the 400i.

        Like 5
  4. Sebastian X1/9

    That’s a lot of maintenance for disappointingly modest performance. 💰 🐎

    Like 1
  5. douglas hunt

    THIS IS ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVS….with the manual trans I would be majorly happy running this one as the front engine V12’s are always special and I always liked the looks of the 400 series

    Like 1
  6. Dave Peterson

    Most who can afford this as an accessory will view it as garage art. V12, manual transmission and left hand drive. Put it next to the Degas, Jeeves.

    Like 2
  7. FrankD Member

    The new Ferraris are nothing compared to the classic 12 cylinder models and the Dino, that was for years considered an unacceptable Ferrari. The 400 model will follow the Testarossa in pricing in the future. A few years back a Testarossa was a $50K car.

    Like 3
    • douglas hunt

      no doubt, as a 17 year old in 1980, I was amazed at the way the Ferrari prices sky rocketed due to the speculators deciding they were the next big thing. I knew then I would probably never own one :-(
      I was hooked on the car mags detailing these and other exotics, with the grey market Ferrari Boxer being my number 1 pick.
      I can remember later seeing Boxers and 400’s in the back of Hemming’s with the comments ” need gone by xx date” for ridiculously low pricing, I guess by guys importing them but not finding buyers in time and the DOT breathing down their necks for the finished product.

      Like 3
      • FrankD Member

        Back in 1985 my friend had a grey market Boxer and was asking $55K. I would open the shop on Saturdays and move the 400i the 512 Boxer and a Porsche 906 that a customer crashed racing at Sebring and turn the coffee on. The 512 was a car I would stare at all day long. It still a beautiful car.

        Like 2
      • Mitchell

        [answer to douglas hunt]
        Speculators look for fast profits but cars never gain fast profits
        as their casino mentality expects from stock market games.

        Until two decades ago for 100’000 fixed-term deposits, you
        got 5 and more percent interest per year, i.e. real earned money.
        Not, as is currently the case, only virtual money that anyone
        with a banking licence can generate himself on the computer.

        These overstretched prices will fall again as quickly as they
        have risen because there is no real real economic value
        creation is present. This is the cause of -the actual- inflation.

  8. Tirefriar

    All that work performed but the a/c wasn’t “tryed”?! That’s a red flag…what else haven’t the seller “tryed” on this car?

    • Howie

      True, and a good wax and polish will make the paint look great, well why don’t they do that?

      Like 1
  9. Quidditas

    Agree. They were also made in right hand drive and my late father serviced one for decades until the owner passed on. A daily driver.

    It was also a manual and when it overheated it required both heads to be rectified. Our local tuning wizard, Roger Taylor, who did some work for Brabham, Kawasaki and Toyota, gas flowed the heads and performed magic on the camshaft. He also redid the exhaust which made it quiet and more responsive.

    My father fitted a custom made bigger radiator with two Kenlow electric fans to make sure it wouldn’t overheat again.

    My dad then fitted a CDI ignition system with rather special Bosch coil/s

    Fuel consumption, after all the fiddling, was better than that of a common garden variety V8 El Camino. I was fortunate enough to get a ride in it. Better than a XJ12?

    Great car.

    The heirs didn’t understand what they had and sold for the price of an AMG E55 in 2008.

    The 400i was promptly exported to the UK. I nearly bought it but my wife put her foot down with a heavy hand. She gave me an ultimatum – All Citroens and Alfasud go. So the C5 went, anyway, but the Alfasud remains and a Brera may be on the way.

    Like 1
    • alphasud Member

      Your wife just doesn’t understand your good taste in cars. It’s about soul and passion. You know that thing that modern cars are missing.

  10. Mitchell

    F 101 are quality cars. The carburated as the later fuel injected.

    I also regret that I missed the time when a 400i was available
    for just over 30,000. But I prefer the 412 because many things
    have been improved. Or a 612 Scaglietti, which is more
    modern and can also run on LPG (if petrol is so expensive
    these days).

    Like 1
    • douglas hunt

      I always say I was born 15/20 years to late, oh the cars I would have enjoyed…at least that’s what I tell myself :-)

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