Ferrari 400 Automatic, there is always a first time for a Gran Turismo in evening dress

In 1976, the Ferrari 400 was born from the workshops of Maranello, an atypical car, often mistreated and forgotten by the purists of the brand, but which represents a significant chapter in the history of the Prancing Horse, thanks to the debut of important technical innovations, without however betraying its DNA of the brand.

Stylistic heir to the Ferrari 365 2+2 GT4, the 400 has the arduous task of transferring the Ferrari philosophy to the luxury berlinette segment, clashing with the sacred monsters of motoring such as Aston Martin, Mercedes and Maserati.

The result obtained is satisfactory, and it should not surprise both the definition of Enzo Ferrari, who describes this four-seater a Gran Turismo in evening dress, and the fact that the Ferrari 400 became the representative car of the great industrialists of the time. like Gianni Agnelli and Sergio Pininfarina.

However, the question arises as to how the Ferrari DNA, made up of sports racing cars, can be transmitted in a segment characterized by large luxury and comfort cars, means of transport conceived and designed to face long motorway journeys at cruising speed.

First of all, the engine conveys its being a Ferrari engine.

The 4823 cm³ 60 ° V-12, powered by three Weber 38 DCOE 110-111 double-barrel carburettors, with double coil and two ignition distributors housed in the rear part of the engine, capable of delivering 340 hp, is a direct descendant of the Type 209 destined for the 400 Superamerica, designed by Gioacchino Colombo, historic Ferrari engineer and friend of the founder.

The company's internal code, relating to the production of the car, is F101 C080, and will remain so until November 1979, when it will be transformed into F101 D070 due to an important technical implementation, the Bosch K-Jetronic mechanical injection.

It is interesting to note, among other things, how this transformation was dealt with, given that this injection uses the six-cylinder metering unit per bank, considering the V12 as two twin and side-by-side engines. From this technical aspect, a really wide engine is consequently developed, but thanks to a game of symmetries, and the position of the intake manifolds, designed in an orderly manner, the aesthetic result is remarkable.

As far as performance is concerned, the transition from a carburettor power supply, which is then transformed into an injection one, will cause a loss of 30 horsepower, but a subsequent update will raise the share of power to 315 hp.

The tradition of the GT of the past is also taken up and respected at the chassis level: in fact, the Ferrari 400 chassis is made from a series of tubular steel elements with an elliptical section. Both suspensions are independent, with transverse wishbones, equipped with coaxial coil springs, and with telescopic shock absorbers and stabilizer bar.

The rear is embellished with self-leveling oleo-pneumatic devices.

The production cycle divided into two parts is also particular, since the bodywork is designed, built and finished in Piedmont by Pininfarina, while the mechanics are born in Maranello. It can therefore be deduced that only later does the union between the mechanical and frame components take place in the historic Ferrari factories.

The most innovative and impactful technical innovation is the adoption, for the first time by Ferrari, of an automatic transmission. The decision comes from Enzo Ferrari himself, and has technical and commercial reasons, including the reference segment, and the demands of the American market, which represents the main source of income for the Maranello car manufacturer.

Specifically, the automatic transmission is a Borg Warner with three ratios plus reverse gear, mounted directly on the engine, refined to avoid jerking the drive and give greater smoothness of travel.

As soon as you enter the passenger compartment, luxury stands out with Connolly leather upholstery that perfumes the environment, the central console that presents the automatic gearbox housing, stereo cassettes, and the small levers to manage air conditioning and electric windows.

The steering wheel is made by the Momo company, and is made up of three spokes, minimalist but distinct from the small central horn button: round and with a yellow background, characterized by the Prancing Horse emblem prominently in the center.

The main instrumentation consists of the speedometer and the tachometer, both very large, flanked by the slightly smaller pressure gauges, which indicate the oil pressure and the water temperature.

The secondary instruments, on the other hand, are arranged in the center of the dashboard, obviously inclined towards the driver.

In spite of the generous size and weight, almost five meters of the car for 1800 kg, the driving experience is excellent, as requested by the Ferrari brand: aided by the power steering work, the driver, once behind the wheel, immediately appreciates the driving precision and stiffness of trim, without however having to lose the comfort required by the category, allowing this model to be the ideal flagship for long motorway and cruise journeys.

The perfect sedan to drive, and not be driven by a driver.

The market rewards the unconventional choices made by Ferrari: starting from 1976, the 400 Automatics produced (chassis from 19353 to 28261) are 355, against the 147 manual ones, while the 400i automatic models (chassis from 27987 to 55523) are 883, against 422 for the manual version.

From 1986, the Ferrari 400 Automatic will be replaced by the 412 model, the final evolution of this cycle of cars characterized by generous dimensions and taut lines.

A small curiosity concerns the fact that, despite having been designed for the American market, the Ferrari 400 will never be officially sold overseas, due to the stringent US anti-pollution regulations, born in this historical period, following the crisis in the oil market.


Coupé bodywork, 2+2 seats

Engine position front, longitudinal, V12 60 °

Rear-wheel Drive

Size and Weights

Length 4810 mm

Width 1796 mm

Height 1310 mm

Wheelbase 2700 mm

Front track 1470 mm

Rear track 1500 mm

Unladen mass of the 400 model of 1700 Kg

Unladen mass of the 400i model of 1830 Kg

120 liter tank


Displacement 4823.16 cm³

Type v12 60 °, front, longitudinal water-cooled,

Bore and stroke 81x78 mm

Compression ratio 8.8:1

Double shaft distribution, two valves per cylinder

Power supply model 400 Automatic, six Weber 38 DCOE carburettors

Power supply model 400i Automatic, Bosch K-Jetronic injection


400 Automati model power of 250 kW (340 hp) at 6,500 rpm

400i Automatic model power of 228 kW (310 hp) at 6,500 rpm

Specific power model 400 Automatic of 70 hp/liter - 98 Nm/liter 400

Specific power model 400 i Automatic of 64 hp/liter

400 Automatic model torque of 471 Nm at 3,600 rpm

Model 400 Automatic ignition, mono, two coil distributors and distributor

Ignition model 400i Automatic, mono, electronic

Three-speed automatic transmission and RM, self-locking differential


Car body in tubular steel

Steering formed by a circulation of balls with power steering

Independent front suspension, wishbones, coaxial coil springs with telescopic shock absorbers, anti-roll bar

Independent rear suspension, transverse wishbones, coaxial coil springs with telescopic shock absorbers, self-leveling oleo-pneumatic devices, stabilizer bar

Front ventilated disc brakes, 302mm

Rear ventilated disc brakes, 297 mm

215/70 VR 15 front tires

215/70 VR 15 rear tires

15" wheels, made of light alloy

Performance declared

Speed ​​240 Km/h

400 Automatic acceleration from 0-100 km / h in 8.3 seconds, from 0-400 meters in 14.9 seconds, and from 0 to 1000 meters in 25.5 seconds

400i Automatic acceleration from 0 to 400 meters in 16.4 seconds, and from 0 to 1000 meters 29.2 seconds

Luca Saitta