1982 Ferrari 400i
The 400 was Ferrari's first machine to stray from the company's racing roots. Sure, it had sharp Pininfarina styling and a thirsty V12. But the 400 also had four seats and, most significantly, an available automatic transmission.
Today, with the vast majority of cars sold being supplied with automatics, that little detail seems unimportant. Ferrari, though, was one of the most successful race car builders of all time. Its street cars exuded track-refined engineering, and they were all devastatingly fast and steadfastly hardwired to the human in the driver's seat. An automatic transmission signaled a disruption in that philosophy of car building. A transmission that shifts for you, especially when three other people are in the car, creates a great distance between mankind and machine.
At least the logic behind Ferrari's decision to introduce its auto was clear: Americans loved automatic transmissions. Sure enough, there's proof that we still do. Ferrari saw a market they were missing in the GT world, and decided to go ahead and create a Gran Turismo that was more about gulping down the miles in high fashion than submersing the driver in total mechanical involvement.
The automatic used in these cars was a GM Turbo-Hydramatic. If that sounds familiar, it's because the same tranny was used in familiar greats by Jaguar, Cadillac, and Rolls-Royce. What do those three companies have in common with Ferrari? Nothing. Price, maybe, but surely no driving characteristics were ever shared between the brands. This meant that the auto was mismatched to the 400's V12. It was a great, smooth transmission, but it was lazy and luxurious, not quick and concise.
For the enthusiasts, a proper gearshift was still available. It was a 5-speed, and it allowed the pilot to harness the V12 with finesse. But the success of the auto proved something about Ferrari's wealthy clientele, many of whom were clearly more concerned with their image than with a Ferrari's phenomenal road manners.
The 400's engine, at least, was thoroughly Ferrari. It was based on the Daytona's excellent powerhouse, and made about 340hp out of 4.4 liters when first used in the car. It had twin overhead cams, and, beginning in 1979, fuel injection. The 'i' in 400i stood for injection, a feature that replaced the original 400's carburetors and followed through to the updated 412 model that carried much of the original 400's styling and character up until 1989.
Crisply styled by Pininfarina, the 400 looked the part of a proper Gran Turismo. It was comfortable, fast, and could handle four people with effortless ease. Was it really a Ferrari, though? Regardless of the controversy behind it, the 400 was a good car that added another type of vehicle to Ferrari's repertoire.
The influences of the 400 can be seen in some modern Ferraris, notably the 456 and 612, both of which have sold successfully in the United States. Ferrari used the 400 to show that it could build more than temperamental, racy machines for driving die-hards. It proved that the storied company could also make a brilliant GT. Sources Used:
Wilson, Quentin. The Ultimate Classic Car Book. First. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited, 1995. By Evan Acuña
Considered to be the lesser-known front-engined 2+2 coupes, the Ferrari 400 and 412 began production in 1976.
First introduced in 1976, the Ferrari 400i lasted until 1984. A total of 507 of the Ferrari 400i were produced and introduced at the Paris Show in 1972.
The body style was coupe and had a 4.8 L FI V12 engine.
At first, the chisel-edged Pininfarina shape was showcased as the 365 GT4 2+2 with a four-cam 4.4-litre V12 with a five-speed manual gearbox only. A short lived variant, the 365 was a 150 mph 4-seater that was replaced in 1976 by the 400GT.
In 1979 the 400i came with Bosch injection to enhance smoothness though it robbed the V12 of 30 bhp. The Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection replaced the carburetors on the 400. The emissions were much improved but the power was down substantially.
1985 introduced the 412 the last of the 400 line and considered to be the best model lasted until 1989. Improved with an increase in displacement to 4943 cc, the newest 400, now came with ABS.
The most civilized Ferrari of its generation, they were the first models to offer automatic transmission. Introduced in 1976 at the Paris Motor Show, the 400 Automatic (or 400A) offered a 3-speed unit from General Motors.
The engine was based on the Daytona, was a 4.8 L (4823 cc) V12 that was capable of producing 340 hp. It carried the traditional GT car layout with driving rear wheels mounted in front.
Only 147 models were five-speed manuals which showed the direction that the market was heading.By Jessica Donaldson
An ultra-rare, extremely expensive, very fast vehicle, the Superamerica featured a low grille opening and covered headlights. With a long sloping rear deck combine with the double curvature of the windshield and rear window, the car had a taut, muscular look in keeping with its performance capability. Built as if for a king, the inside of the Ferrari 400 Superamerica features a lavish interior with thickly bolstered seats and sumptuous Italian hides.
Introduced in 1959, the Ferrari 400 Superamerica featured a Colombo V12 that displaced 3,967 cc. A first for Ferrari road vehicles, the Superamerica also boasted disc brakes. Only 47 units in two series, short and long wheelbase were ever constructed during the Superamerica's five-year production run.
Built to order, the vehicles featured a very demanding clientele that had the option of a wide choice of finishing details on their cars. The Superamerica was built only according to the specifications of the individual. An entirely European concept, the vehicle was a kind of luxury item that only few could afford. In accordance, no two Ferrari 400 Superamerica vehicles are ever exactly alike. These vehicles have been produced for elite owners such as Aga Khan, Gianni Agnelli, Enzo Ferrari and Nelson Rochefeller.
One of the rarest examples of the Ferrari 400 Superamerica is the 5029 SA, the Series II long-wheelbase, which was delivered new in Italy. Finished in elegant silver gray; Grigio Argento, with an exquisite red leather interior. Sold in 1998 in Switzerland, the 5029 SA was restored fully by some of the most respected European specialists.
Still recovering from World War II during the late 1940s and early 1950's, while Europe struggled with the scarcity of fuel, cash, and raw materials, Enzo Ferrari sensed that there was a market for a high-powered GT. The 340 America was introduced in 1950 as the first attempt to put a powerful Lampredi V12 engine in a Ferrari GT. Trying to associate the name with America's ‘bigger is better' culture, Ferrari also sought to make the Americans aware of this new Italian marque.
Popular hits, the 340, 342 and 375 America's were featured in an assortment of beautiful bodies from Italy's most talented carrozezrias, and powered by Ferrari's legendary Lampredi engines. The Ferrari's 250 series had changed the company from a manufacturer of short runs of rapidly evolving models to a series-production-based manufacturer by the mid 1950's. Feeling that it was time to move up-market, Enzo Ferrari moved on to produce a GT model that would satisfy his most demanding and affluent customers. This new model would share a common drivetrain and chassis, but would allow the customers the discretion in the choice of features, tune and coachwork. A step above the previous ‘America', this new model was aptly called the Superamerica.
The 410 Superamerica debuted in 1956 following the ‘more power is better' theme of the earlier ‘America's, while featuring a near-5-liter Lampredi V12 and offered in tuning levels up to 400 horsepower. Reportedly able to spin the rear wheels in third gear, a total of around 35 examples were produced in vastly different configurations as both cabriolets and coupes.
Following the 410, the 400 Superamerica was an impressive automobile, but unfortunately fell short of the 410. The refined Colombo-designed V12 was a more reliable and less expensive alternative to the Lampredi, and a 4-liter version of the Colombo engine was developed for the 400 Superamerica. Rated at 340 horsepower, the new V12 was sadly 60 less than the very powerful 410 engine.
On the other hand, the coachwork options were more impressive. An impressive array of coupe and cabriolet models in both LWB and SWB variations were commissioned, and four show cars called Superfast I, II, III and IV were produced during the 410/400 Superamerica's production run. Featuring Superamerica mechanicals and are apart of the Superamerica family, they are classified by their Superfast chassis number.
The 500 Superfast was introduced in 1964 as the newest car to the ‘America' series and followed the ultra-premium ‘America' theme, though only offered with one engine and body configuration. A total of 36 500 Superfast models were produced.By Jessica Donaldson