While the 400 may have been the first Ferrari model to offer an automatic transmission, today’s Nice Price or No Dice GT eschews that convenience for an old school clutch pedal and manual shift. Let’s see if its price has you clutching at your pearls.
Hey, do you remember last year? I know, for various reasons, 2020 is something we’re all trying to forget. Still, before we can let it go entirely, we have to look back and see how our last candidate of the year fared. That was a 2012 McLaren MP4-12C that wore a comically printed wrap making it look as if it had done track time at the hands of a particularly aggressive pilot.
That was all smoke and mirrors, however, as the car beneath the wrap was claimed to have few miles and extensive service records — and no history of on-track heroics. For that, the seller asked a sizable $110,000, and you all were split pretty evenly over the price. In the end, the McLaren fell in an impossibly narrow 50.2 percent No Dice loss. What a way to end a year!
Allow me to let you in on a little secret: If there’s one thing I love, it’s Craigslist Ferraris. I don’t mean those Fiero-based faux-rraris and their ilk, although I do have a macabre appreciation for those, too. No, what I mean is real Ferraris. What I like are cars that are just “rachet” enough that their sellers feel the need to eschew typical sales venues like Hemmings or the Robb Report. Instead, they go for the same commoners’ classifieds, where you can find clapped-out Kias, old mattresses and sketchy people who will come to your house and pick up your dog’s crap so you don’t have to.
Today’s 1979 Ferrari 400 GT is just such a find.
The 400 GT is the Jan Brady of the Tipo F101 model line, coming between the earlier 365 GT4 and later 412i. All cars shared the same handsome Pininfarina-penned grand tourer body, and taken together, the line serves as the longest-running in Ferrari history, having been produced from 1972 all the way to 1989. During that time, not a single one was officially exported to the United States.
The issues facing Ferrari in the U.S. at the time were daunting. Emissions controls were adding complexity and cost to cars, while at the same time fuel economy and safety issues drove the imposition of a federally mandated 55-mile-per-hour speed limit. That all made for an unwelcoming environment for the Italian supercar maker’s V12 wares.
It’s possible that at some point the Tipo F101 was considered for the U.S. After all, with the introduction of the 400, Ferrari did offer the option of a GM-sourced three-speed automatic behind the car’s 4.8-liter Colombo-designed V12. That model was unironically named the 400 Automatic.
Being a GT, this one has the standard five-speed stick and three-pedal foot box. Production numbers of the manual-equipped cars were less than half that of their automatic brethren, so that makes this an appreciably rare car as well as one that offers more physical exercise. It’s even more so here in the States, since all models had to be privately imported. The seller claims this Rosso Corsa over biscuit coupe to have a clean title and to sport a mere 30k on the odometer.
The car is claimed to be a ’79, although that model year saw the introduction of the fuel-injected 400i while this car rocks a sextet of Weber DCOE sidedrafts. Interestingly, the engine’s design has those mounted inside the well of each bank’s double-overhead cams and breathing on either side of the spark plugs. Despite the surface rust on some components and the somewhat grungy appearance of the bay, the seller claims the car is “[R]unning and driving perfectly.”
The interior also looks like it’s seen some action and could benefit from a general detailing. The floor mats show some serious age and there’s an odd amber lamp that has been punched through the leather on the dash that mars the overall appearance. Other than those issues, however, the cabin looks livable.
The exterior also appears to be in decent shape and wears factory alloys and body-color bumpers. The latter of those may indicate a respray at some time in the car’s past. From the factory, the 400 wore black rubber bumpers, but painting them to match the bodywork was a fairly common occurrence by owners.
The venue for this Ferrari’s ad may be downmarket, but it’s questionable if the same could be said for its price. At $59,500, this is an appreciably expensive car. That said, when it comes to V12 Ferraris, that’s pretty cheap. Add to that the manual gearbox and the result is an intriguing car that offers access to the rarified air of being a Ferrari owner.
Do you think it’s worth that $59,500 asking for the honor? What do you say, could this 400 GT command that much? Or, will its Craigslist classified make its price too déclassé?
H/T to Bill Floyd for the hookup!
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