The Ferrari 408 Was An AWD Supercar 30 Years Ahead Of Its Time, And It Wasn't Alone

Before the Honda NSX pushed Ferrari to make a better, more usable Ferrari 355, there was another set of Japanese/Italian all-weather sports cars to pair off. The two cars in question are the Nissan MID-4 and the Ferrari 408.


Welcome back to Auto Archives, the show in which we dive into my personal collection of Car Styling magazine back issues. These issues are packed with never-uploaded-online pictures, sketches, and interviews. I wish I had time to go through every page.


The MID-4 isn’t really an “is.” Nissan developed two generations of this car, which sadly never reached full production. A VG-series V6 sat behind the driver, running ATTESA all-wheel drive and HICAS all-wheel steering. The first-generation car debuted in 1985 and was naturally-aspirated with 245 horsepower, the second-generation car from 1987 got the VG30DETT, twin-turbocharged and intercooled up to 330 hp. It weighed just over 3,000 pounds, and would have been a riot for the time.

By 1987, though, it would not have been alone. Ferrari debuted its own car in the same vein. The Ferrari 408 was also a mid-engine, AWD, AWS sports car, with similar specs. The engine was a quad-cam, 4.0-liter V8, good for 300 horsepower and pushing just under 3,000 pounds around, wet.

Why neither company actually put these things into production I’ll never know. We were deep into the Bubble Era, and you have to imagine that they’d have found buyers. All we can do now, though, is dream of seeing them up for sale, ripping sideways on vintage events.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.



Cool 408 sidenotes:

-The 4WD system is similar in concept to the one on the FF. It even has the same name, 4 Ruote Motrici.

-Unlike the FF, the engine was offset to the right to make room for the torque tube routed to the front of the car. On the FF, power was sent from both ends of the V12.

-4RM was designed by Mauro Forghieri, who was poached from Ferrari by Lee Iaccoca. Forghieri did a little something for Lambo called VT.

-The second 408 chassis was made of adhesive-bonded aluminum in much the same way the later Elise would be built.