Compared to some of the flashier Ferraris of the era, the 400 and 412 are the subdued, understated choice. But that’s just how Ferrari wanted Pininfarina to design these cars; the Testarossa and 288 GTO were giving the carmaker more than enough panache in the lineup. The 400’s purpose was to serve as a fast, comfortable, and competent Grand Tourer, and that’s just what the styling conveyed. What began as the Ferrari 365 in 1972 would later turn into the 400 and then the 412 over the course of 17 years, making this Ferrari’s longest production series.

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400 introduced at Paris Auto Show in 1976 and would stay in production until 1985. 4.8-litre V12 produced 340 bhp, enough power to motivate the car to 100 km/h in 7.1 seconds. The 400 offered buyers the very first automatic transmission in a Ferrari; a Turbo-Hydramatic 3-speed unit from General Motors. For owners wanting more control over their cars, Ferrari offered a 5-speed manual option as well. The 400 became the 400i in 1979 with the addition of a Bosch fuel injection system that served to clean up the emissions while reducing the power output to 310 horsepower. Between the 400 and the 400i, a total of 1807 cars were built.

Offered as the 412 starting in 1985, the car received a multitude of stylistic and mechanical updates to justify the name change. For starters, the V12 powerplant carried over from the 400 was bored to 5 litres, an effort that allowed the car to produce 340 bhp, or the same output as the original 400 model did in 1972. For the first time on a Ferrari, ABS was available, and Pininfarina worked their magic on the exterior sheet metal to update the car’s looks. 576 examples were built and sold. The dual transmission offerings were retained, with the manual option offering a significant 1.6-second advantage in 0 – 62 mph acceleration.

Even though the 400 and 412 were the restrained choice of Ferrari during their era, their classically good looks and sonorous V12 engines have made these cars classics today. Although there wasn’t an immediate successor to the 412, the eventual replacement came in the form of the 456.

Andy’s Thoughts

For a long time the 400’s prices were at rock bottom, with cars changing hands for as little as £3000 at one stage. However in recent years the prices have been silently creeping up, doubling and then doubling again. Other models have taken all the limelight with the million dollar price tags, but those cars are out of reach for most. Enthusiast often look at the cheapest models, but for many the 400 series is also slipping into the “too expensive” category.

There are a few things that have caused this. Firstly, the 400/412 is somewhat of an angular shape. Not as beautiful as the cars of the 60’s or the later 456, which means that it has always been overshadowed. But the shape has recently made a comeback, with cars like the Lamborghini Countach also rapidly appreciating in value.

Secondly, the market has moved for the 400/412, based on the price of cars around it. The car before this was the 365 GT4 2+2 which are now worth £130k+. The one before that was the 365 GTC/4, which are selling for £350k+. It was only a few years ago that the 400i was selling for £25k, and today a mint example will cost nearly £100k. In terms of prices, these will be well over £200k in  3-5 years, and the few cars left will be much sought after by collectors.

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