In 1959 at the Turin Motorshow, Ferrari unveiled the 400 SuperAmerica, the replacement for the 410 SuperAmerica. The model came with a shorter wheelbase, but also with a new engine. It was again designed by Pininfarina and was offered in both spyder and berlinetta versions. Ferrari built 46 units of the new 400 SuperAmerica.
This was the first time with a production road car that Ferrari deviated from the path of the model type number denoting the swept volume of a single-cylinder. The ’400’ designation referred to their total cubic capacity of four liters.
It was built on a 2420mm chassis featuring a pair of large section, oval longitudinal tubes passing over the rear axle and substantial cross bracing, plus a built-up front cross-member. Similarly, the suspension was independent at the front, via wishbones with individual coil springs and shock absorbers, whilst the rigid rear axle was supported on semi-elliptic leaf springs, and fitted with radius arms, whilst hydraulic shock absorbers were provided to each wheel.
While its predecessor was using a Lampredi-designed V-12 engine, the 400 SuperAmerica was powered by a 4.0-liters Gioachino designed V12 engine that delivered 340 hp at 7000 rpm. The engine was coupled to a 4-speed, all synchromesh gearbox, fitted with an electronic overdrive unit on top gear, driving through a universally jointed propeller shaft to a rigid rear axle. The 0 to 60 mph sprint was made in 9,2 seconds, while top speed went up to 174 mph.
In 1960 at the Turin Salon Ferrari revealed the benchmark design for the 400 SA. It featured a spectacular flowing and tapered shape and was known as the Superfast II. The model was designed by Aldo Brovarone who said it took his inspiration from the Vanwall F1 car.
It earned the epithet ’coupé aerodinamica’ due to the long and low flowing curved lines, which swept into the cabin, where the windscreen pillars curved both inward and rearward, and the shallow rear screen angle ran in a straight line through the boot to the tail at bumper level. There the circular tail lights were in a horizontal protective shroud forming part of the wrap-around quarter bumpers.
The initial rendering had retractable headlights in the nose panel and a shallow, oval egg-crate radiator grille bounded by quarter bumpers with over-riders sweeping under the front apron. During the winter of 1960-61, the car received a wide shallow air intake on the bonnet with a fancy chrome surround trim; small circular parking lights were semi-recessed in the tops of the front wings, the rear wheel arch spats disappeared, and quarter lights appeared in the door glass.
In 1962 at the Geneva Salon Ferrari unveiled the Superfast III. This version featured a revised cabin glass area with new slimmer C-pillars and larger rear quarter windows. At the front the nose profile was altered to provide a very shallow, elliptical radiator intake with a thermostatically controlled, metal cover panel adorned with a ’Cavallino Rampante’. Other notable alterations were: a change of colour from white to metallic green (having also been metallic grey in the interim), the reinstatement of spats to the rear wheel arches, whilst exhaust air outlets were provided on the lower rear wing panels.
The models built after the middle of 1962 were featuring a 2600 mm wheel base and they were distinguished by the greater space between the trailing edge of the door and the forward edge of the rear wheel arch. They usually featured a closed bonnet blister too, instead of the earlier open intake with chrome surround trim.