The first automatic Ferrari model was unveiled in 1976 at the Paris Salon. Called 400 Automatic (or 400A), it replaced the 365 GT4 2+2 and stayed into production until November 1979, during which time 355 examples were produced. Like its predecessor, the model number referred to the swept volume of a single cylinder.
The car was built and fully trimmed at the Pininfarina works in Turin, and then shipped to the Ferrari factory in Maranello for the installation of the mechanical components. Iy was available in both left and right hand drive configuration, with no USA market version was made.
The Ferrari 400 Automatic was powered by a 4.8 L (4823 cc) V12 that delivered 340 hp. Mounted in front and driving the rear wheels, the traditional GT car layout allowed Ferrari to fit four seats in the stylish coupe. With a weight of 1700 kg, the model could hit a top speed of 240 km/h (149mph).
The engine was mated to a Borg Warner three speed plus reverse automatic gearbox that became an an immediate hit with Ferrari clients, and would account for approximately two thirds of the cars manufactured for the remainder of the 400 into the 412 series production run. The power was transmitted from the automatic gearbox through a propeller shaft to a limited slip differential, and from there via half shafts to the independently suspended rear wheels with hydraulic self leveling units.
Visually 400 series models can be differentiated from their predecessor by a small body colour spoiler on the lower edge of the nose, five bolt fixing for the five spoke alloy wheels instead of the single triple eared spinner, paired circular rear light assemblies, and the disappearance of the "Cavallino Rampante" from the radiator grille. Inside the seat upholstery was made more sumptuous, and the stitch style and pattern altered, along with minor changes to switchgear on the centre console, and a change of style for the door release catch.