1966 - 1968 Lamborghini 400GT
A serene grand-tourer, almost disconnected from Lamborghini’s supercar futureby Michael Fira, on
The Lamborghini 400GT is the second car ever built by Ferruccio Lamborghini’s company. The first car that used the designation was, essentially, a 350GT with a 4.0-liter V-12 under the hood and, otherwise, an identical body. Then, later, at Carrozzeria Marazzi, the body was modified by extending the roofline to host two more passengers in the back. This model became known as the 400GT 2+2.
The age-old story is that Ferruccio Lamborghini decided upon making cars after buying one of Ferrari’s products, a model from the vast 250 series. While being a grand tourer, Ferruccio thought that the Prancing Horse was nowhere near as comfortable to drive for extended periods of times as he would’ve liked. At that moment, he set about making a car of his own, funded with the money he’d gathered by building tractors. The first model was the 350 GT built by Carrozzeria Touring and then, two years later, the 400GT arrived and was picked up by Carrozzeria Marazzi when Touring closed its doors.
Unlike the 350GT, which was built by Touring using their patented aluminum Superleggera bodies, the 400GT came with heavier steel sheet metal and a few styling differences along the way. The headlights were different, for example, as the number doubled within each of the two housings that sprouted forwards from the hood. The end result was a machine that followed Ferruccio’s wishes to perfection. It’s sad to think that, now, Lamborghini no longer makes cars that follow Ferruccio’s ethos.
1966 - 1968 Lamborghini 400GT
- The first 400GT, known as the 400GT Interim, was nothing more than a 350GT with the bigger engine installed up front. They are considered part of the 350GT’s production run but only three examples feature the Superleggera aluminum bodies
- Some of the early Interim models come equipped with the two-headlight setup of the 350GT while, later on, the four-headlight setup emerged
- Some of the early 400GTs came with the bumper over-riders seen on the 2+2 models as well as the Miura wheels instead of the classic Borrani spokes
- Carrozzeria Touring built the Interim models as well as some of the early 2+2 models before closing its doors. Then, Marazzi took over the building process
- The 400GT 2+2 shared the same wheelbase and overall length with the 350GT
- The shape of the C-pillars and the rear window is similar to that of the Aston-Martin DB5, another car built in the last years of Carrozzeria Touring’s first lifespan as a coachbuilding company before being revived in 2006
The Lamborghini 400GT was born as a response to customers who enjoyed the 3.5-liter V-12 fitted in the 350GT but wanted more power. By late 1965, Lamborghini started experimenting with a larger displacement version of the same unit. It was finally offered to customers in the beginning of 1966 on the 400GT, the name deriving from the 4.0-liter capacity. The first 23 400GTs were nothing more than a 350GT with the bigger engine.
While all of these cars were built by Carrozzeria Touring, only three had the lightweight aluminum body while the rest received the heavier steel one. In 1966, Touring was tasked with modifying the 350GT’s design in such a way that it stays true to the original. What Touring did was increase the roofline by a few inches, the 400GT 2+2 measuring 50.5 inches in height compared to only 47.95 inches for the 350GT and 400GT Interim. The car’s beltline was, as a result, higher as well but the wheelbase was left untouched. Instead, Touring opted to lower the floor pan, change the rear window while keeping the same windshield, and also switching around the upper and lower control arms of the rear suspension. The quad headlights and the slightly bigger bumpers had been seen already on the final 400GT Interim models.
Up front, as mentioned before, the 400GT 2+2, as introduced at the 1966 Geneva Auto Show, features the quad sealed-beam headlamp setup, two each in the oval housings on the nose. These bulges extend as far back as the midway down the hood. Below the headlights, there’s the rounded front grille with a polished frame and two horizontal strakes. The change from two to four headlights was made so that the car could pass new U.S. safety regulations.
The indicators are placed atop each of the two wraparound bumpers that are surrounded by a crease that follows the line of the grille and curves around the car’s corners. There’s also the car’s beltline, signaled by an additional crease that wraps around the side indicators placed just before the front wheel wells. This line partially crosses the doors ending a bit before the chromed door handles. Returning to the front, you’ll notice that the top of the front fenders has a pointed edge. Another difference between the 350GT and the 400GT is the inclusion of a second windshield wiper as the 350GT came with only one.
The car’s profile is clean, only marked by the beltline crease. The rear wheel arches aren’t rounded as those up front, Touring probably deciding that a more straight-cut design makes for an elegant look. The teardrop-shaped chromed exterior rear-view mirrors are placed on the fenders. While the roofline is higher than on the 350GT, it still arches gracefully towards the back where it blends with the line of the rear fenders that end with a downward slope that leads the eye to the car’s narrow taillights.
The back of the 400GT 2+2 is not particularly good looking. The two taillights seem maybe too small as they’re also placed on the extremities of the rear fascia. The rear bumpers, like the ones at the front, wrap around the corners of the cars but they extend further along the rear overhangs. The number plate is meant to stay in a recessed slot carved in the car’s rounded back end. The trunk lid somewhat inelegantly goes over the hump below the rear window and extends as far back as the edge of the number plate area. Towards the edge of the rear bodywork, in the middle, there’s the car’s only backup light. The four polished exhaust tips exit from under the car, two on either side.
The 400 GT 2+2 cars were built by Touring before Marazzi took over. Marazzi was, in fact, a company established by former Touring employees which is why they sometimes used the Touring name on some of the cars (according to Lambocars, Marazzi applied the Touring wings and even the Superleggera lettering on the trunk on the first 400GTs that they built). With the real Touring cars being more desirable, some restorers might put the Touring logos on the sides even on Marazzi cars that never had them. So, if you’re in the market looking for a Touring 400GT 2+2 look very carefully and examine every little detail.
Wheelbase 100.22 inches
Length 182.35 inches
Width 67.99 inches
Height 50.5 inches
- The interior of the early 400GT Interim models was basically identical to that of a 350GT with a wooden-rimmed steering wheel and shifter knob
- The 2+2 model, though, came with a few changes such as the wood panel towards the top of the center console which replaced the brushed aluminum bezels of the 350GT
- The rest of the interior, including the transmission tunnel, is wrapped in fine Italian leather
- While modifications were made to house the two extra seats in the back, the 400GT is by no means a spacious grand tourer in the back, like the Espada, for instance.
- The 400GT was the first Lamborghini ever to be offered in right-hand drive.
- While the 400GT 2+2 was created because customers wanted a more roomy GT, Lamborghini had previously offered for a short time a 350GT in the 2+1 configuration
The interior of the Lamborghini 400GT is an elegant place to be, a classic example of Italian sports car interiors 50 years ago. Early examples have a 3-spoke wooden-rimmed steering wheel although some later ones come with a leather-wrapped rim. Behind the wheel, there are three gauges: two big ones, the tachometer, and the odometer, and a third smaller one placed in the middle which informs you about the oil pressure.
Then there’s the center console. The top part features a recessed center panel with wood trimming on which four extra gauges are placed, as well as a number of warning lights for the indicators and other things. Below, sticking out from the leather upholstery is a series of thin knobs and switches that control the ventilation system, the wipers, and the high-beam lights among other things. The shifter is placed on the center column just in front of an ashtray. Meanwhile, the radio is positioned just underneath the glove box on the passenger’s side of the dashboard.
The 400GT comes with comfortable bucket seats up front and a divided back seat. The room in the back isn’t great, both for the legs and the head, but it can accommodate two shorter individuals. It’s worth noting that, while the 400GT 2+2 came with the two extra seats in the back, each seat cost $500 dollars in 1966 money. That adds up to a sum of $7,805 in today’s money.
- The 4.0-liter V-12 is a direct relative of the 3.5-liter one but with an increased bore of 3.22 inches from the original 3.03 inches
- The compression ratio rose from 9.5:1 to 10.2:1
- Power thus jumped up from 280 horsepower to 320 horsepower
- The early 400 GT Interim cars still used the Salisbury transmission while the later 2+2 models all came with the Lamborghini synchromesh unit built in-house
- The 400GT made 20 less horsepower than the Ferrari 400 Superamerica and 40 more than the Aston-Martin DB5
- The 400GT 2+2 only weighed 2,754 pounds, less than both the Ferrari (3,197 pounds) and the DB5 (3,230 pounds)
The Lamborghini 400GT looked and felt like a relaxed cruiser but it was, in fact, a true performance car. Lamborghini increased the bore of its V-12 as well as the compression ratio to gain 40 horsepower over the 350GT and an extra 36.88 pound-feet of torque. That meant that the 400GT put out 320 horsepower 6,500 rpm and 276.58 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm. With a weight of just 2,754 pounds - in spite of the steel body and frame - the car had a top speed of 168 mph and reached 62 mph from a standstill in just 6.8 seconds. This made the 400GT faster than both the Ferrari, if only by a couple mph, and the DB5 which could only do 142 mph.
The 400GT came with a synchromesh 5-speed manual transmission that replaced the old Salisbury unit. It was a gearbox developed by Gian Paolo Dallara, the then-chief engineer at Lamborghini who also took care of the limited-slip differential.
At the time, the 400GT reached the highest top speed ever recorded by Road & Track for a production road-legal model. The magazine praised the Lamborghini as the finest car they’ve ever test-driven up to that moment in time. Why? Well, that V-12 gave you the power in a linear fashion while also being quiet, reliable and smooth. Yes, the suspension at the back was risen to cope with the potential added weight of two extra passengers but the maneuverability of the car wasn’t ruined.
Talking about suspension, the 400GT comes with coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers with tubular wishbones and anti-roll bars at all four corners. Girling disc brakes with two vacuum servo units sat behind each of the four Borrani wheels. Steering was by ZF of the worm & roller type.
Engine DOHC, chain-driven, naturally-aspirated, 24-valve 4.0-liter V-12 with a steel engine block and pressed-in liners
Bore x stroke 3.22 x 2.44 inches
Compression Ratio 10.2:1
Fuel feed 6 twin-barrel Weber 40 DCOE 2 carburetors with one electric Bendix fuel pump
Output 320 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 276.58 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm
Performance: 0 to 62 mph in 6.8 seconds and a top speed of 168 mph
Gearbox 5-speed all-synchromesh
Brakes 4-wheel Girling disc brakes
Suspension All-independent, coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers with tubular wishbones and anti-roll bars
Steering ZF worm & roller
Weight 2,754 pounds
The Lamborghini 400GT 2+2 had an MSRP back in 1968, its last model year, of $14,750. That’s about $115,125 in 2018. With 224 units sold, the 400GT was a more popular model than the 350GT, outselling its predecessor by some 100 units but it can still be considered as a rare car - especially if you go for a Touring-built example.
With that being said, you can argue that the 350GT and the 400GT together have been grossly overlooked by classic car collectors in the past two to three decades and that, only recently, did their value started to spike up. As such, you’re looking at a price of anywhere between $470,000 and $580,000 for a Touring built 2+2 while a Marazzi built example is slightly cheaper.
That’s still a lot of money but remember that the price for a 400 Superamerica, be it in SWB or LWB guise, starts at about $3,100,000 and only goes up.
Ferrari 400 Superamerica
The Superamerica was a series of cars primarily designed for the American consumer. As such, they were lavishly built with only the finest materials inside the cabin and powered by big engines such as the 4.0-liter Lampredi V-12. It put out 340 horsepower in the ’Superamerica II’ as the model built between 1959 and 1961 became known. The ’Superamerica III’ was built between 1962 and 1964. These cars were mainly available with Pinin Farina bodies in either SWB or LWB fixed-head coupe form, although convertibles could also be offered. The coupe models came with an ’Aerodinamico’ body and only 17 such cars were ever built, thus justifying the sky-high price they commend nowadays (besides the fact that any ’60s Ferrari is crazy expensive).
The DB5 was the second Aston with the body built by Carrozzeria Touring. It became famous as James Bond’s means of transportation in the movie ’Goldfinger’ that premiered in 1964. While similar to the DB4 Mk.5, it featured an aluminum-block inline-6 engine with a capacity of 4.0-liters, 0.3-liters more than on the DB4. The power output was 282 horsepower at 5,500 rpm while max torque was 287 pound-feet at 3,850 rpm. It was fed by three SU carburetors and the power reached the back wheels through a new 5-speed ZF transmission. A three-speed Borg-Warner DG automatic transmission was available as well. The DB5 was produced as both a fixed-head coupe and a convertible. The fastest of the lot was the coupe Vantage version that featured three twin-choke 45DCOE side-draft Weber carburetors and revised camshaft profiles. This model had an advertised power output of 325 horsepower at 5,500 rpm. Only 65 were ever built and one sets you back about $1,000,000 nowadays.
The Lamborghini 400GT is an underrated car and there’s nothing to suggest that the public’s lack of interest in this car is founded. In fact, the 400GT is a great all-around car for its time, a fast grand tourer that cemented Lamborghini’s reputation in its earliest days by satisfying both European and North-American buyers.
It was lighter than both the Ferrari and Aston-Martin models that came with 4.0-liter engines in the early-to-mid ’60s and offered similar performance. The engine was arguably more civilized and quiet and the build quality was in line with what the competition was offering. At least, there was none of that Countach-style nonsense going on yet. If you are reading this and you are a millionaire car collector that doesn’t yet own a 400GT, you should consider acquiring one for its both a sound investment and a great car to own.