Affordable Dream Car: 1976 – 1985 Ferrari 400/400i

Classics, European  /   /  By Benjamin Hunting

Twelve-cylinder cars represent the apex of classic Italian engineering. But they also typically command the highest prices for an exotic or grand touring car wearing the prancing horse. This is what makes the 1976-1989 Ferrari 400/400i such an outlier. With prices hovering between $30,000 and $50,000 for a solid driver, this two-door coupe is by far the least expensive way to get behind the wheel of a V12 from Maranello.

How did this wedge-shaped GT car come into being? Styled by the legendary Pininfarina and based on its predecessor the 365 GT4 2+2, the Ferrari 400 was introduced at the Paris Motor Show in 1976 and featured a 4.8-liter V-12 that produced 335 horsepower. Three years later, the car would swap its six Weber carburetors for a Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system that would drop output to 306 ponies on the way to giving the car improved reliability and better overall performance. The name was changed to the 400i.


This clean 1984 400i hides a twin-turbo conversion under the hood.

Intended to offer four-passenger comfort while maintaining the brand’s reputation for sporty driving, the 400 and 400i sold well (about 1,300 examples). However, sedate styling that closely linked the coupe to its 1970s heyday kept it out of collectors circles and beat prices down to today’s affordable state.

Convertibles were coach-built conversions performed by third parties, so if you feel the need for fun in the sun you'll have to go over the car with a fine tooth comb to verify the quality of the work.

Convertibles like this example were coach-built conversions performed by third parties.

Of course, there are a few caveats that accompany the Ferrari 400/400i’s bargain price tag. The first is that the majority of these cars came equipped with a three-speed automatic transmission, sourced from General Motors—not exactly the romanticized image of European performance one would expect from Italy. (Note: a five-speed manual is out there, if you are willing to look). Then there’s the fact that, as with most 12-cylinder cars, 400/400i parts can be prohibitively expensive, with engine rebuilds costing more than a vehicle is worth and even smaller components running many times what one would pay for a similar piece on a non-Ferrari. Finally, there’s the image of the 400/400i/412, which is decidedly staid compared to sexier shapes like the Ferrari 308 of the same era.

Clean lines and pop-up headlights add to the charm of the 1970s-sourced 400i styling.

Clean lines and pop-up headlights, as seen in this example, add to the charm of the 1970s-sourced 400i styling.

If you care more about owning a fun-to-drive classic 12-cylinder car than you do impressing your neighbors—and if you are comfortable stomaching the indignity of a missing clutch pedal—then the Ferrari 400/400i presents an intriguing opportunity.

Capable of reaching 60-mph from a standing start in just a tick over seven seconds, the 400i is well within the realm of daily drivability in modern traffic, and its spacious interior and practical trunk won’t leave you frustrated and sore on weekend getaways for two. Make sure to avoid the convertibles. These were coach-built customs produced later in its production run—and you’ll be able to one-up your neighbor’s eight-cylinder Ferrari Mondial every time you turn the ignition key.

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See Ferrari GTO 1985 Cars & Trucks for sale on eBay.

About the Author

Benjamin Hunting is a freelance car writer who enjoys reading and keeping the shiny side up on track days. In addition to the eBay Motors Blog, he contributes to SlashGear and Roadkill, among others. Benjamin has been obsessed with automobiles since he was child, when he spent endless summers at antique car shows, NASCAR events, and NHRA tracks. He sweats the tough questions, like: “Should I keep my ride stock with period-correct nuts and bolts, or modernize it for modern comfort and convenience?” He is also an avid musician and a friend to vinyl.