For many, going to a topless beach can be a memorable experience. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Ferrari 400i is memorably topless, but will its price make you want to tell the seller to go pound sand?
A wrecker that was not quite a wreck, yesterday's tiny Fiat Tow Truck sent many of you into apoplexies of consternation over whether it would be able to tow itself upon its inevitable breakdowns. That kind of closed loop conundrum meant the little Italian was on the hook for a 62% Crack pipe vote, and not much big towing business.
Today's candidate is also Italian, and comes from a company that the maker of yesterday's truck also owns, however in condition and status it falls at the opposite end of the spectrum from that seemingly one of a kind Fiat. That doesn't mean that this 1980 Ferrari 400i isn't something unique as well.
The 400i introduced Ferrari owners to the automatic transmission, and by extension, the joys of driving with one hand draped languidly over the wheel at the 12 o'clock position, while the other rests comfortably in their lap – for any scratching or positional adjustments that may need addressing. Representing that less-active lifestyle, and with the fuel injected engine's significant drop in power over the be-carb'd versions, these big Ferrari cruisers have developed a rep for not being the most desirable of Prancing Horse badged cars, making any modification to them less a sacrilege than to other of Enzo's offspring.
This one has gone under the knife, and come out with its coupe top transformed into a fabric folding affair. The rest of the car, from the Daytona-based 4,823-cc V12, to the THM400 gearbox, and remaining Pininfarina penned bodywork, for better or worse, remains intact. That body appears to be good from far but far from good, what with its wonky front bumper and seller admission of door dings. Inside things look better and the acres of cow draped everywhere look new enough to still have some moo left in them.
Ferraris are driver's cars, and so it's strange that you typically find them with so few miles under their tires. That's sort of the case here where this 400i's 47,000 miles represent few for a 31 year old car, but a lot for a Ferrari. The ad says the engine ‘runs strong and sounds great' but there's no mention of any sort of service regime aside from the ambiguous claim that it has been well maintained. Additionally, they say that $13,000 has been spent on it in recent years, but for all we know, that could have been in parking tickets and the buffing of Tawny Kitaen's ass marks off the hood.
The ad also lays claim to the convertible conversion having been the work of R. Straman, the Costa Mesa-based beheader of all things automotive. Straman gained notoriety in the ‘80s for making Daytona Spiders out of 365 GTB/4 coupes as well as Honda CRX roadsters out of Honda CRXs. The company has a rep for quality work, and the fact that much of the factory roofline was preserved top-up, as were sight-lines when the top is down goes along way in making this conversion not look too mickey mouse. On the downside, the top, when erected, has a kind of awkward appearance, sort of like a grownup man wearing a diaper, and that massive header over the windscreen must make for some interesting wind noise at speed.
As I noted, the 400i is Ferrari's red-headed stepchild – at least of the V12 siblings. If this had been a 512BB which had been afflicted with scissor doors, or a 308 made to look like a Pontiac Fiero, I think we'd all be amassing pitchforks and torches in search of the perpetrator. But as it's a 400i, and the convertible change is kind of cool, who cares?
There are things that a 400i should not be forced to suffer, as even an auto-box heavyweight like this is still a Ferrari. Not too long ago I stumbled upon a kind of ratty 400 powered not by the expected alloy V12, but by an old SBC. Installation of the Chevy looked to have been done by an inebriate named Jethro and a pair of chimps who only participated because they couldn't find any poo to throw at it. The appearance of the Chevy mill in the car had the same effect as if the chimps had had the ammunition, and in fact one heater hose was held off the exhaust manifold by a piece of coat hanger, its hook still in place at the end.
Today's car is in a lot better shape than that, and, while the emissions-corralling fuel injection and GM 3-speed slusher conspire to make this one of the slowest V12 Ferraris of the modern era, it's still got panache. And it's $29,500, which outside of consideration of this particular car, is pretty cheap for a V12 out of Maranello that isn't presently on fire, or being used to block Mubarak supporters. But what about that amount for this particular Ferrari, is that a price that makes your jaw drop along with its top? Or, convertible or not, is that too much for what really is the malaisiest of all Ferraris?
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Public Service Announcement: It looks like everything poll-related should be fixed by now, so if you're still not seeing it this morning try this- check your driver's license and make sure your name isn't Stevie Wonder. If it isn't, then let us know in the comments what browser you're using so we can get the hamsters on it.
UPDATE:Okay, I've let the powers that be know that the new layout still isn't playing nice with Polldaddy. As a number of you pointed out, it worked yesterday, so it should work today, Dammit!
UPDATE, UPDATE:Whoop, there it is.