Even the best don’t quite get it right every time. That’s a phrase that gets tossed about a lot when the subject of the Ferrari 400GT comes up. Many critics have pointed to this car as not being up to the marque’s high standards, but what was wrong with it? Was it, objectively, that bad a car?

On paper, the 400GT does seem to violate a number of important Ferrari tenets. Based on the front-engine, rear-drive 365 GT4 2+2, the 400GT’s street cred was dented by its four-seat grand-tourer status, but the availability of an automatic transmission was the nail in the coffin for many. The 1976 400GT was the first Ferrari to be offered with an automatic transmission. The move made sense, as the car competed with other grand tourers like the Aston Martin AMV8 and Jensen Interceptor, but it’s hard to avoid thinking of the 400GT as the start down a road that has led to today’s California and FF.

Though it hasn’t received much love in hindsight, the 400GT was a successful car for Ferrari. It actually outsold the exotic Boxer with which it shared showroom space.In its various guises, the grand tourer that started as the 365 GT4 2+2 was in production from 1972 until 1989, making it Ferrari’s longest-lived model series.

Continue reading to learn more about the Ferrari 400 GT.

Exterior

1976 - 1979 Ferrari 400 GT
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The 400GT retained the handsome, understated styling of the 365GT 2+2.Designed by Pininfarina, the car was a conservative three-box design with clean lines and a gently sloped front fascia. Pop-up headlights above Daytona-style driving lights, quad round taillights and the low stance were Ferrari hallmarks. In keeping with the understated-luxury mien, the 400GT featured minimal chrome and thin pillars all around. The body was unusual in that it was steel with a fiberglass floor, to save weight. A massive palette of almost fifty factory colors was offered, and Ferrari offered custom colors as well.

Exterior Dimensions

Length 4,810 MM (189.37 Inches)
Width 1,796 MM (70.70 Inches)
Height 1,310 MM (51.57 Inches)
Wheelbase 2,700 MM (106.29 Inches)
Front track 1,470 MM (57.87 Inches)
Rear track 1,500 MM (59.05 Inches)
Weight 1,700 KG (3,747 LBS)

Interior

1976 - 1979 Ferrari 400 GT
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Six interior colors and a choice of custom interior leather were also offered, as the 400GT was intended as a more luxurious vehicle than the average Ferrari. Real wood trim decorated the high console, and a traditional wood-rimmed three-spoke wheel dominated the driver’s view. The 400GT was large enough for four full-sized adults to ride in comfort, and the V12 provided a wonderful soundtrack.

Drivetrain

1976 - 1979 Ferrari 400 GT
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The 400GT was born in 1976, when the 365GT4 2+2 underwent a design update that included a bigger 4.8 liter V12. The engine featuredsix Weber carburetors, quad overhead cams and two valves per cylinder. A five-speed manual transmission was standard equipment, as was a limited-slip rear end. Horsepower was rated at 340, a boost of 20 horses over the 365GT4 2+2 and good for a 7.1-second run from 0 to 60 and a top speed over 150. The available slushbox was a three-speed sourced from GM, and officially dubbed 400 Automatic. The top speed gave up a few speedometer notches, but to the chagrin of enthusiasts, the 400 Automatic outsold the manual version.

In 1979, Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection was installed for the first time, resulting in the 400i. Horsepower was actually downgraded slightly, to just over 300.

The 400GT rode on a tubular steel frame with a generous 106.3-inch wheelbase. The double wishbone suspension included coil-over shocks and self-leveling Koni shocks at the rear.

Drivetrain Specifications

Type front, longitudinal 60° V12
Bore/stroke 81 x 78 mm
Unitary displacement 401.93 cc
Total displacement 4823.16 cc
Compression ratio 8.8 : 1
Maximum power 340 HP
Top speed 245 km/h
0-400 m 14.8 seconds
0-1000 m 25.3 seconds

Prices

Though popular and a decent seller in its day, in terms of collectability the 400GT is something of a black sheep in the Ferrari family. A total of just over 2900 cars were produced with this body. 400GT and 400 Automatic production totaled 502 cars.The 400GT represents a relatively inexpensive route to Ferrari ownership, with values hovering around $25,000.

Competition

Aston Martin DBS V8

1970 Aston Martin DBS High Resolution Exterior
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Aston Martin buyers clamored for a larger engine than the smooth straight-six that powered the DB6, and they got it in the DBS V8. The 5.3 liter V8-powered grand tourer immediately became the fastest four-seat production car on the planet when it was introduced in 1969. Renamed Aston Martin V8 during the next styling cycle, the car became the modern icon of Aston Martin’s performance and luxury.

Read our full review on the Aston martin DBS here.

Jensen Interceptor

1976 - 1979 Ferrari 400 GT
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The hand-built Interceptor was British, but the body penned by Carrozzeria Touring carried a healthy dose of Italian appeal. A 6.3 liter Chrysler V8 was replaced by a 7.2-liter unit in later models, and the fastback coupe provided entertaining performance at a lower price than Aston Martin or Ferrari.

Conclusion

1976 - 1979 Ferrari 400 GT
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The idea of a 2+2 Ferrari was, at the time, almost as controversial as the Porsche Panamera is today. Though regarded as a departure from what made the marque great, the long-running 400GT family was a success and a milestone for Ferrari. Today it’s one of the lower-valued cars in the pantheon, but still offers a rewarding driving experience, and the accusations of “bland” styling are softening with age.

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    • * Lower values than other classic Ferraris
    • * Less iconic than other Ferraris
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