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Feasible project?

Discussion in '365 GT4 2+2/400/412' started by preston400i, Jan 19, 2007.

  1. preston400i

    preston400i Karting

    Dec 26, 2006
    131
    A couple of months ago, I purchased a 1985 400i in need of body repair from a rollover accident. The damage was relatively light for a rollover and the sale included an extra roof section, so I thought I would be able to repair the damage for a relatively reasonable cost. The sale (ebay) led me to believe that this was a good car that only needed body repair, but it seems that there is quite a bit more to it than that. Aside from the obvious body damage, I would say that at least half of the electrical system is out of commission. It has also sprung a considerable coolant leak that seems to be coming from BOTH head gaskets.

    The good: All major mechanical components seem very strong. The engine runs well, the transmission shifts smoothly, the suspension, steering, and brakes are tight, and the interior is in good shape. I love the way the car drives even in its current state.

    The bad: The roof is caved in, the windshield is broken out, the front signal lenses are cracked, the spare wheel is missing, the head gaskets are potentially blown, and there are lots of electrical failures.

    I have about $7,500 invested between purchasing the car and shipping it here. A windshield will cost about $1,500, and I was budgeting about $2,000 for a decent paint job, assuming that I had done all the bodywork myself. It will need a spare wheel and tire at about $500, and front signal lenses, but I don't know how much those will cost because I haven't found any. Throw in a few miscellaneous parts and service costs, and I the end result would be about $12-14,000, which I thought was a good price for a 400i. But...sorting the electrical will be time consuming and/or costly, and the head gasket thing has me spooked.

    In light of the additional problems, and since I've seen decent sounding cars for less than $20k, is this car going to be a total money pit? Would I be better off selling it as a parts car and buying a good one instead?

    Thanks!

    Preston
     
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  3. GrigioGuy

    GrigioGuy Splenda Daddy
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    Yes, and Yes.
     
  4. Simon^2

    Simon^2 F1 World Champ
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    When you originally posted a couple months ago, I wondered how long it would be, and how deep of a financial hole you would be in, when you realized this is a bad idea.

    Consider yourslf lucky to have found out this soon.

    2 options,

    1. sell the car hole for whatever you can. probably at a loss. call it "ferrari education"

    2. Part the car out. Will likely do better financially, but is it worth the time and effort? IMO no. but that's me...

    Best of luck.
     
  5. preston400i

    preston400i Karting

    Dec 26, 2006
    131
    I was afraid you'd say that. At least I found out relatively soon, as you say. At least I spent some time sizing up the project before I bought a bunch of stuff for it. I guess I'm not quite as dumb as I used to be.

    In principle, it just seems like such a shame to make a parts car out of it. After all, it's a FERRARI. And it's a running, driving Ferrari at that.

    I still welcome replies to my original question, but if everyone is in agreement:

    Should I part it out or sell it whole? Where's the best place to try to sell? I'm kind of in the middle of nowhere (Grand Junction, Colorado) so selling unusual cars is always doubly hard because nobody wants to come this far to get them. If and when I put this behind me, what's everyone's reccommendation for a good entry-level Ferrari? I love the 400i, but I can see myself pursuing a 308 GT4 or Mondial.

    Thanks!

    Preston
     
  6. GrigioGuy

    GrigioGuy Splenda Daddy
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    If you weren't 15 hours away, I'd make a stupid lowball offer myself. I really want a convertible 400 at some point. :(
     
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  8. Horsefly

    Horsefly F1 Veteran

    May 14, 2002
    6,929
    Quite a quandry you are in. Unfortunately, if BOTH head gaskets are leaking coolant, it is essentially UNdriveable, even if it is driveable. Who would want to take a chance at losing enough coolant to overheat the heads and/or block and crack something beyond repair? Most Ferrari buffs have too much reverence for the marque to part out an intact car that COULD be repaired. Why don't you bite the bullet and at least buy a new windshield and then you could replace/repair the roof and carefully fit in the new windshield while your at it. Then the car would be completely intact and the temptation to "part it out" would be much less. Your enthusiasm would probably go up a bit at that point. The leaking coolant is probably a worse problem than the roof and windshield. Bad head gaskets would mean MAJOR engine work which would cost a fortune unless you did the work yourself as a labor of love.

    What's the bottom line on the car? How much to you want to recoup your losses and "bail out"???
     
  9. ArtS

    ArtS F1 Veteran
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Nov 11, 2003
    6,077
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    Before you do anything else, find out what is going on with the engine. If it has two blown head gaskets, this is probobly the real reason why the first guy dumped it. If this is the case, this is too big of a project, in my opinion.

    If it's something minor, then the project is still kind of viable.

    Good Luck,

    Art S.

    PS. If you sell it, sell it to Arlie, he needs a challange. ;)
     
  10. preston400i

    preston400i Karting

    Dec 26, 2006
    131
    I think the head gaskets are what will make or break this thing. When I took delivery, The radiator was full of coolant at an approximately correct antifreeze concentration, but it also appeared to have a bunch of stop-leak in it. The weather has been cold, and the car is in an unheated garage, but the antifreeze was good so I don't think it froze and cracked. I had only run/driven the car a few times in a couple of months when the leak appeared. One day, perhaps three days after I had last run the car, I found a big, mysterious puddle of antifreeze on the garage floor. I crawled under it and I traced the leak as far up as the head gaskets - on both banks. It seems unlikely that both gaskets would blow simultaneously, and it seems weird that they would leak coolant externally even if they did fail. However, I cannot find any leakage further up. I topped up the radiator (it took a gallon or so) and started the car. It did not leak at all while it was running and it ran as strong as ever. I drove it up the street, and everything was fine. I parked it for a while, and then I drove it up the street again a week or two later. Everything still seemed fine. There is now a small puddle of antifreeze underneath it again, though not nearly as much as before. There is no trace of oil in the coolant or coolant in the oil. It's not producing excessively steamy exhaust or anything, so I don't think the engine is consuming coolant either. What's the deal? Is there any chance that this is such a minor leak that simply torquing the heads would fix it? I can only guess that head gasket replacement would be a pig of a job in one of these cars.

    From an ideological standpoint, I would like to fix this car as a labor of love. From a financial standpoint, It seems like I'm only going to dig myself deeper into a hole. I originally thought that body repair and a windshield would net me a good car. Depending on these other issues, it seems like breaking even is probably a best-case scenario. What I'm trying to avoid is putting a bunch of time and money into it, then realizing that I'm throwing good money after bad. I either need to get out now or see it through, and I'm open to suggestions as to which.
     
  11. Horsefly

    Horsefly F1 Veteran

    May 14, 2002
    6,929
    Don't feel TOO bad. I blew $8000 on 3 World War II vintage M29 amphibious weasels and a a mountain of NOS parts. Now they're setting out in the woods just like they did for 20 years before I got them from the previous owner. If I was smart, I'd sell the whole mess and buy a Ferrari. But labors of love are hard to part with. They become part of one's heritage.
     
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  13. aidanparte

    aidanparte Formula 3

    Jul 18, 2004
    1,200
    I would fix the bodywork, assess the extent of the engine trouble - if it is driveable but you just need to top up the coolant regularly, then I would do just that. Then you could wait and source a replacement engine, perhaps from a rotten car or one that had been rear-ended. I couldn't bring myself to part it out. In the end, I suppose it depends on the depth of your pockets.

    Best of luck

    Aidan
     
  14. ArtS

    ArtS F1 Veteran
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Nov 11, 2003
    6,077
    Central NJ
    Two comments:

    1. It sounds like somethin other than the headgasket is bad. My first guess is a pinhole leak in the radiator or a hose spraying onto the engine.

    2. All Ferrari 400s are labors of love and money pits. However some are better than others. If the engine problem remains minor, fix it and proceed. If it is major...you don't want a Ferrari with a bad engine and a rebuild is $25k + !

    Regards,

    PS. Arlie, post pictures of those things, what's the difference between the Duck and the Weasel?
     
  15. Horsefly

    Horsefly F1 Veteran

    May 14, 2002
    6,929
    Daring to slide off topic here, but all ducks are amphibious. Like giant boats with wheels. Weasels are like very small bulldozers. Tracked vehicles. SOME weasels have floatation tanks on the front and rear, allowing them to float and move through the water very slowly. Good for fording small creeks but not for open water travel. Check http://www.m29cweasel.org/ for full info.
     
  16. preston400i

    preston400i Karting

    Dec 26, 2006
    131
    So far, we have two votes for "cut and run" and two for "it depends on the head gaskets." Anyone else care to weigh in? I sure wish I'd known about Fchat before I jumped in. Not that I wouldn't have still bought it, because I can be compulsive that way.

    Would anyone be willing to venture a quantitative discussion of my options, i.e., What could I get for it as-is vs. What will it cost to fix?
     
  17. GrigioGuy

    GrigioGuy Splenda Daddy
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    My vote was based on the motor being sick in some way. The motor is the basis of the value on the 365 gt4 2+2/400/412 models. Maybe it's a minor fix -- is there anyone nearby that is qualified to take a look at it?

    Right now I would offer $3K for the whole stack of stuff -- and you'd be a fool to take it. You could make much more parting it out, but you'd still have a bent body shell to get rid of, and it might take years to find buyers for your parts.

    Until you know what's wrong with the motor, you simply can't tell if it's worth continuing.


    You COULD always bolt a Chevy 350 in there to keep it running while you fix the motor at your own pace, but at that point you might as well be driving a Bitter SC
     
  18. jacques

    jacques Formula Junior

    May 23, 2006
    836
    Los Angeles/Florida
    Having owned my 1980 400i for ten years now, I can truly state without compuction..get out now.... 400's are really "tat babies"..this car will ruin you financially..My 400 in in good shape but could easily sink 4-5k in susupension bushings and labor tomorrow..and that's with out re-building the konis....Sooo....part the thing out andyou will be a hero to all of us for your wisdom,and,...you will find that you will have more tna enough money to by a nice 308..with far more prestige than owning a car that no one wants to help you with or even cares to know squat about..they will just rape ypu and not even kiss you..look around the 308 forum and inform yourself as to what truly loving community is and can be..your parts are worth 10k more than any good 400 could possibly fetch..the broken motor is worth 15-20k to a rebuilder,ect....you could sell every part on your car in a a heartbeat..so don't be sweet talked..by being lowballed..just do it and you can thank me later..p.s....even I have shopping list as long a your arm..most sincerly...Jacques...over....
     
  19. dstacy

    dstacy F1 World Champ
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    I hate to say "I told you so" but I'm glad you're having second thoughts now before you've taken out a second mortgage on your house.

    It'll never be a nice car at a reasonable price. Could you make it nice? Sure, if money was no object.

    Preston this car will eat you alive. I dropped $6,000 on my 400i and it was a really nice example. You'll have $30k in this car so fast you won't believe it. Worse yet it'll need another $10k and you'll still have a Ferrari with a salvage title.

    My opinion is the same as when we talked about this car before...
    Run away and consider it a lesson learned.
     
  20. bergxu

    bergxu Formula 3

    Aug 16, 2005
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    Aaron
    If you decide to call it quits on the project I'll buy the engine from you for transplant into an MGB!

    Cheers,
    Aaron
    '82 GTSi
    '83 400iA
     
  21. I am the great pretender

    Dec 16, 2006
    73
    Preston

    I am having a certain ammount of 'experience' with my Daytona in this area (see thread in classic and vintage), although I am lucky, so far, that prices have up till now been moving favourably for the value of the car.

    I think you have answered your own question here, ie 'if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, talks like a duck.....it's most likely a duck!

    For what it's worth, my strong advice is don't let your heart rule your head, cut your losses and get rid of it for what you can. Live to fight another day!

    Tim
     
  22. Simon^2

    Simon^2 F1 World Champ
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    Run Preston Run!
     
  23. 2NA

    2NA F1 World Champ
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    Dec 29, 2006
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    Tim Keseluk
    It'll never be worth more than it is today!!
     
  24. KraigG

    KraigG Formula 3

    May 25, 2006
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    ..and if you do decide to go the "parting out" option, I need a power steering pump! :)
     
  25. preston400i

    preston400i Karting

    Dec 26, 2006
    131
    Votes are stacking in favor of getting rid of it. You're not all telling me to part it out because you want the parts, are you?

    Sorry - that's the conspiracy theorist in me.

    I think I would sell it whole because the P in A factor of parting it out is too great. Plus, I wouldn't have to live down the disgrace of parting out a Ferrari.
    What's the best thing to do? Get silver subscribed and post it on FerrariAds? Would it be too slimy of me to sell it to a local who doesn't know what they're getting into?

    Tillman suggested getting the coolant leak professionally diagnosed, which is a good idea, but this may well be the only Ferrari within a 200 mile radius. There is a definite shortage of local expertise. Is there a reliable way to assess the head gaskets myself?
     
  26. aidanparte

    aidanparte Formula 3

    Jul 18, 2004
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    You could send it to Pininfarina Special Projects and have them make an all-new alloy body (same shape as the 400 of course as it is such a superb design), custom interior like the 575 GTZ, and drop a 599 GTB motor in it. It would only set you back about $300,000.

    That is my dream, anyway, when I win the lottery.
     
  27. KraigG

    KraigG Formula 3

    May 25, 2006
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    Nah, part it out, and sell the stuff on ebay. You seem to have some sort of mechanical inclination, otherwise you wouldn't have bought it in the first place. Have you seen what 400 parts are going for these days?
     
  28. Simon^2

    Simon^2 F1 World Champ
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    I am firmly on the side of avoiding the PIA factor...

    Do you want to be staring at the decaying carcas in your garage for the next 3 years, all the while hearing the wife say "I told you so..."

    Sell it whole, and move on.
     

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