I'm Thinking about buying a 79 400automatic please help - Ferrari Life
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post #1 of 6 Old 04-13-2010, 07:05 AM Thread Starter
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I'm Thinking about buying a 79 400automatic please help

Hi I am new to this site and new to the Ferrari market. I have owned many muscle cars but I have never owned an Italian classic. I have been looking into buying a 1979 Ferrari 400 automatic for sale near me. It is a very low millage Gregio Ferro Grey with red interior, it must be an early production 79 because it is not fuel injected but carburetter. The car is a two owner ride with 30,000 kilometers on the odometer and it has the Dual a/c option. I would like to know what I should look for and what is a reasonable price to pay for this car. I know i am being pretty vague but I don't know what you need to know. As far as I know the car has never been hit and it has been maintained. The current owner worked for the original owner so he nows the history of the car the chassis number is 27797. Any help or input would be great, thanks Dave.
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post #2 of 6 Old 04-13-2010, 09:35 AM
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I don't know the 400 series well at all but many here do: Stay tuned. However, as a general rule I'd look at some service records if any, and look over general care of the soft parts, which is to say rubber and wires. Interior is not the big issue, but mechanics and seal and boots and someone that can work on a 12 cylinder Web. carb.

From the SN, that is an EARLY model so the Auto isn not an American mix IIRC and that means a few more bucks.

You NEED, a GOOD, PPI. It is not a guarantee, just a means to let you know what you are getting into and down the road. Personally I believe that engine is great, but and you mention you had cars, so thinking you could do the engine work, if needed on your own with PROPER REAL books.

However, even the champs on these things can sink a lot of time, effort and $$ into a museum piece. Very difficult to eval at this range. BUT, you'll get some standard, and honest and GOOD TO REMEMBER comments: Take them seriously and keep asking.

I know this isn't directly addressing 400s, but worthy of a read for older similar models

PS: Prices can be as low as $15K-$50, but there is a LOT of diff between the two.

don't say where you are generally located so, assuming it's near the East, and going North.

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Last edited by Granucci; 04-13-2010 at 09:49 AM.
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post #3 of 6 Old 04-13-2010, 10:05 AM
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The 400 series (and even more so the 365) has a unique kind of 70ies chic which I think is quite appealing. However, there are few out there who think so. So I just want to warn you that you are buying a car which has a small niche market attached to it. Consequently, market value is, and will likely remain indefinitely, low for a V12 Ferrari. This model also has a really bad reputation for maintenance costs. I remember Martin Buckley (UK car journo) quoting a stack of bills for a 400/412 totalling over 100k. With my current experience (limited but growing) in owning older Ferraris I do not have a reason to doubt him, although it depends very much on what was included in those bills - if there was any bodywork done it quickly adds up.

The 456 had some issues with its automatic gearbox early on, it being notoriously expensive to fix. As the 365/400 model was the first auto gearbox Ferrari ever, I think it is wise to try and find out what the issues are with that model. I'm not knowledgeable on the subject to help you, as I have no interest in autos.

The mileage on this car is low and I would very carefully check what kind of mileage the car has done in recent years. If you see no action in recent years, you will need to prepare yourself for some serious bills.

Without having seen the car, it is impossible to say what the car is worth. You could have two cars advertised as concours, both for $40k and one would be a bargain, and one would be a rip-off. Not having too much experience with 400s (so take this with a pinch of salt) I believe the price to range between $10k to $50k from basket case to very good car. There might be one or two out there that could be worth more - if it is absolutely immaculate - but I think the range given is a fair one. Most reasonable cars would sell in the $30k range, and these would be very dangerous to buy. I recommend you only buy if it is the very best, and please remember: a proper rebuild of this engine runs easily over $50k.

I hope it pans out for you - but of all the Ferraris I can think of as a first Ferrari this model would be bottom of the list as the potential for serious heartache is just too great.

Good luck!


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post #4 of 6 Old 04-13-2010, 10:32 AM
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I believe Enzo drove one for a while.
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post #5 of 6 Old 04-13-2010, 10:45 AM
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First of all, welcome to FL. From your statement, it seems to me that you have not done enough homework regarding the said car nor do you seem to have strong desire for this particular model V12. If that is the case, I would shy away from this model, unless your interest is based on definite bias for a 400 or that you are looking for a four seater V12. Aside from that, the only major advantage that I can see is that it is one of the most affordable V12 (initially). You have to possess the determination and guts to spend money for maintenance and resto. Just open the hood and see how complicated it looks. Virtually most of these cars have not received proper maintenance over the years simply because it was not worth the investment.

I think as a candidate for the first intro Ferrari, such cars would be too risky, altho the price may be appealling. When time comes to let it go, you may have to face considerable shock and lack of demand for it, unless willing to slash price for parting. There are several models for sale (here in Japan) but they do not move. Asking price range hovers around US$30k or so.

Unless you are sure that the previous owners loved and took care or performed mechanical restorations (not meaning interior or paint), I would suggest that you think it over exactly what you are looking for in a Ferrari. Just because the car price is affordable or that it is a V12 is not a good reason to dive in, considering the potential risks.

Sorry for sounding a bit negative. Not here to talk you out of it, unless you are sure yourself, but then, if that is the case, you would not ask for opinions, right ? Good luck in your search. Other V8 two seaters or choices may be viable alternatives. w/ smiles Jimmy
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post #6 of 6 Old 04-13-2010, 11:04 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all your input guys I still need to took at the service records and try and talk to the original owner if possible before i make a move.
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