Throughout the ’60s, Ferrari’s money came mostly from slightly bigger 2+2 versions of its V-12 sports cars. It was a strategy that worked well for the young and still growing company, but as it entered into the ’70s, things started to change. The smaller Dino-badged vehicles were doing well and bringing in tons of money, with Ferrari eventually introducing a whole new line of V-8 models by the mid-’70s. The Daytona flagship sports car was replaced by the Berlinetta Boxer, a mid-engine car with a flat-12 instead of the V-12 that was still found in the bigger 2+2s. And, “bigger” is the right word, as the 2+2 got much bigger in 1972 with the introduction of the 365 GT4 2+2.

The upshot of all of this is that the big V-12 2+2 cars found themselves, by the early 80s, not to be quite as important to the company, and also cut adrift from the company’s flagship models in terms of the evolution of their styling and drivetrain. Ferrari seemed not to know what to do with these cars, and it unfortunately sort of shows in the final product. The 412 was the last of this series of 2+2s, the best of them, even, for what it’s worth.

Continue reading to learn more about the Ferrari 412.

Exterior

1985 - 1989 Ferrari 412
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1985 - 1989 Ferrari 412
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1985 - 1989 Ferrari 412
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Although there were tweaks to it over time, the 412, which was produced from 1985 to 1989, was still the same basic design that had debuted as the 365 GT4 in 1972. The Pininfarina design doesn’t look bad, and it’s what you’d want a Ferrari of this size to look like in 1972, but by 1989, it must have been looking incredibly dated, especially as Ferrari softened the lines on the rest of the lineup by this point. There were a few changes to the new model, such as the higher deck to allow for a bigger trunk and more luggage space, certainly not a bad thing. The wheels are the same five-spoke design as before, but are now flat-faced, and there were some color changes to some of the trim pieces. But the 412 otherwise looks the same as the 400i that preceded it.

Exterior Dimensions

Length 4,810 MM (189.37 Inches)
Width 1,798 MM (70.78 Inches)
Height 1,314 MM (51.73 Inches)
Wheelbase 2,700 MM (106.29 Inches)
Front track 1,480 MM (58.26 Inches)
Rear track 1,500 MM (59.05 Inches)
Weight dry, automatic: 1,810 KG (3,990 LBS); manual: 1,805 KG (3979 LBS)

Interior

1985 - 1989 Ferrari 412
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Like the exterior, the interior of the 412 was only mildly updated over that of the 400. It is among the most spacious interiors of any Ferrari, and for the 412, there is also thick padding on the leather-clad dashboard. It looks much more like a luxury car than a 2+2 gran turismo. Of course, by this point, Ferrari was putting automatic transmissions in the V-12 2+2s as well, so it’s clear that this was the kind of thing it was going for. The interior doesn’t look quite as dated as the exterior of the 412, although the difference between the interior of the 412 and that of the 456 that would eventually replace it is still quite striking.

Drivetrain

1985 - 1989 Ferrari 412
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By now you might be wondering if anything about the car changed over time, so it’s a good thing we’ve gotten to the drivetrain. As the car evolved from the 365 GT4 to the 400, to the 400i, and finally to the 412, the engine was the main thing to change. First the displacement went from 4.4 liters in the 365 to 4.8 in the 400. The 400i introduced fuel injection to an otherwise unchanged engine, and finally the 412 bumped displacement up further to 5.0 liters. The 365 and the 400 had both put out 340 horsepower, but the introduction of fuel injection dropped power down to 306 horsepower.

So the 412 was introduced in order to get power back up to 340 horsepower. The 308 went through similar changes at roughly the same time. But while that made sense with the 308, none of the bigger V-12 2+2s were being sold in America, so there wasn’t the need to make it comply with U.S. emissions regulations. But, Ferrari did it anyway, which means it also needed the 412 in order to fix the problem. The 412 was also available with an automatic transmission, something Ferrari had offered since the 400, and with every version of the car thereafter, the automatic far outsold manual versions.

Drivetrain Specifications

Type front, longitudinal 60° V12
Bore/stroke 82 x 78 mm
Unitary displacement 411.92 cc
Total displacement 4943.03 cc
Compression ratio 9.6 : 1
Maximum power 340 HP @ 6,000 RPM
Power per liter 69 hp/l
Maximum torque 332 LB-FT @ 4,200 RPM
Top speed automatic: 245 km/h (152 mph); manual: 250 km/h (155 mph)
Acceleration 0-100 km/h automatic: 8.3 sec; manual: 6.7 sec

Prices

1985 - 1989 Ferrari 412
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The 412 wasn’t cheap when it was new, to put it in a more recent context, the current V-12 2+2 is the FF, and it sells for about $300,000. But, while Ferrari sells several hundred FFs a year, the 412 was never officially sold in North America, and as a result only 576 were sold in its entire production life. That’s about the same number as there were of the pre-fuel injection 400, but the 400 is still the most valuable by a noticeable margin. The 412 currently sells for an average of about $35,000. For North American buyers that are looking for a 412, the car offers that unique mix of being difficult to find but not terribly expensive.

Competition

Aston Martin Lagonda

1976 - 1989 Aston Martin Lagonda High Resolution Exterior
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The Lagonda and the Ferrari 365 GT4/400/400i/412 were produced over almost exactly the same time period. Both were four-seaters made by sports car companies, but the Lagonda had the added practicality of an extra set of doors. It did look pretty bonkers though, especially compared to the tame styling of the 412. Aston Martin also used the Lagonda to test all sorts of crazy technologies that gave the interior a hyper-futuristic look. None of it worked, but it’s still exciting to look at.

Read our full review on the Aston Martin Lagonda here.

Rolls-Royce Camargue

1985 - 1989 Ferrari 412
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If you absolutely must have a 2+2 with a Pininfarina body, the Camargue offered a difficult-to-pronounce alternative to the Ferrari models. It competed more with earlier versions of the car that would become the 412, but was still in production when the 412 started hitting dealerships. It is today regarded as one of the worst cars to ever cost so much, but that sadly doesn’t set it apart from the 412, another much-reviled luxury car. Simply put, the standards are very low in this segment.

Conclusion

1985 - 1989 Ferrari 412
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There isn’t what you’d call a consensus on whether the 412 was great or complete crap, but a lot opinions do seem to be at one far end of the spectrum or the other. What can be said about the 412 is that it was killed off before a replacement was ready to fill the gap in the lineup, and when the 456 replacement was finally launched in 1992, it was significantly different. It seems Ferrari had enough of the car, and killed it off before it was actually due. It had enjoyed a particularly long life, and even decent sales for a car that hadn’t been sold in North America, but it was out of place in the Ferrari’s lineup by the late ’80s, and it’s understandable that it had to go.

  • Leave it
    • * The 456 was just so much better
    • * A late ’80s car with mid-’70s styling
    • * Not worth much, and probably won’t be for a very long time
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