Ferraris may be best remembered for their looks, performance and handling, but the firm’s V12 Grand Tourers are also notorious for stone-like depreciation (when new) and nothing seems to have suffered quite like Maranello’s late-’70s and early-’80s models.
You might find some examples of this superb 2+2 popping up for little more than £10k, but you need to be careful.
Buy one of these elegant, underrated cars and, unless you are an incredibly well-funded individual, you need to budget in advance to look after it as well.
Why? Because everyday problems on a normal car can be financially crippling on a Ferrari: a new wing, for example, will set you back £1075, while a stainless-steel exhaust is £2226 and engine rebuilds start at £15k.
They also need a major service every 12,000 miles and that will cost about £2500. So look for a full – and recent – service history for peace of mind.
The manual gearbox is strong, but can baulk when cold, while an automatic that’s reluctant to change up suggests a failed servo pump - it boosts the transmission as well as the brakes.
Known rot spots include the front quarter-bumpers (especially around the indicators), the chassis outriggers, front ’screen pillars, door bottoms, inner and outer sills, rear ’screen pillars, rear-suspension hydraulic pipework, bootlid and boot floor, although the latter is rare.
Electrics are a known weak spot, mostly if the car has been unused, while the brakes are effective but expensive to repair. If the back end has slumped, suspect failed self-levelling struts. Check to see if it has Michelin TRX metric tyres, too: they're more than £400 each!
Avoid all of the above, though, and you'll have a car that can cover continents like few others and, thanks to Pininfarina, looks fabulous doing it.
Ferrari deliberately focused on comfort with these GTs, nonetheless with fine handling, deceptively sharp power-assisted steering and high levels of grip – plus a seductive howl from that glorious V12, especially on the early carburettor-fed versions.
Given the costs involved, speaking to some Prancing Horse aficionados has never been more important and useful websites include www.ferrariownersclub.co.uk, www.ferrari400.com, www.fugazi.co.uk and www.400register.com.
If you’re a natural gambler, then maybe this 412 is for you. It’s described as being in ‘overall good condition, but not perfect’, although it does come with some service history and, apparently, starts and drives fine. Strike lucky and get a car that runs without problems for £13k and you could have landed the bargain of the century, but it’s a big risk.
This 400i looks like a tempting proposition, too, but with fuel injection it may lack some of the carburettor car's charm, although it's a rare manual – in a nice metallic – and comes with an extensive history that dates back to the original order documents, a feature that makes it well worth the £24,990 asking price.
Pay top dollar, however, and this desirable early 365GT4 2+2 could be yours for £49,990. The car has recently been resprayed and benefits from a major service including valve clearances, all the belts, filters and lubricants, while the gearbox has also been rebuilt and fitted with a new clutch assembly. Fresh rubber only serves to sweeten the deal.
We all know that there’s no such thing as a bargain Ferrari, but plan for the unexpected and a V12 four-seater could be yours for surprisingly little. All being well, there's not much that can match one for the money.
Main photos (of 412GT) by Malcolm Griffiths