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Your advice on buying a 400i, please.

Discussion in '365 GT4 2+2/400/412' started by Stefano1, Dec 28, 2008.

  1. Stefano1

    Stefano1 Karting

    Dec 28, 2008
    53
    San Francisco
    Full Name:
    Stefano Bini
    Call it what you want ( my wife calls it a mid life crisis - she may be right), but I have always wanted a 400i since I happened to be a paseenger in one driving down the Champs Elysee with a friend and 2 gorgeous models in the car. The driver was 14 years older than me, I was 16 and in awe of him, his women and his car. Breathless. Fast forward to today, married, 2 small kids, and I came across some adds for this car that make it sound approachable financially. A few premises: while I like cars, and am Italian, I honestly know nothing about them. I have a friend who runs a Ferrari shop in Berkeley and will look after the car. If not, there is another shop a few blocks from my house in SF. I have read everything I can on the topic and came across this excellent site: you guys know your cars!

    So, if you are up to it, can you answer the following? What is an appropriate price to pay for this car in the current market? What questions should I ask (more specifically, what are the BIG items to make sure have been addressed in a vehicle where I to buy one? Should I stay away from out of state postings due to the Smog issues in CAL? do these cars maintain their value? I expect to drive this car on weekends back and forth to Napa to see my folks... about 60 miles: is this reasonable? What do you guys think I should budget for maintanance? 400 or 400i?)

    Feel free to ignore all the above questions and simply share your thoughts. Grazie e mille!

    Stefano
     
  2. ArtS

    ArtS F1 Veteran
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Nov 11, 2003
    5,971
    Central NJ
    Stefano,

    Welcome aboard.

    Spend some time reading threads in this section and you will get a sense of the car.

    The issue with Ferraris in general that is magnified by inexpensive (to buy) Ferraris is that the cost of maintenance, especially differed maintenance, can eclipse the purchase price. The 400 was VERY expensive when new; it is a wonderful car. The maintenance costs can quickly outstrip the cars value. Think of Ferrari maintenance along the lines of maintaining a small airplane rather than an average car. Thus, buy it because because it moves you emotionally and be prepared to maintain it correctly (a poorly maintained version will not bring you joy).

    The purchase/sale price will depend completely on condition. You will not recover your maintenance costs at time of sale. Thus, this is not an investment.

    As 400s are not highly desirable, sharing information on which car you are considering with this forum is relatively safe. As the cars are rare, it is highly likely that the group knows the car and can share insight and history with you.

    Regarding cost:
    Purchase price $7,500 - $35,000 depending on condition
    Once the car is set up and brought back to top condition, it should be surprisingly reliable. Mantenance should average ~$4,000 per year (assume less for most years but build up a rainy day fund for bigger fixes)
    Engine rebuild ~$25,000
    Transmission rebuild: if 5-speed manual ~ $5,000 - $7,500; If auto (made by GM) ~$1,500
    Body work, paint, interior - expensive but very dependant on what needs to be done
    Suspension: Self leveling rear ~$3,000 - $4,000; Front up to $7,500.

    Finally, either buy a 365 GT/4 (the earliest version of the bodystyle) which will be smog exempt or buy a fuel injected car which can be made to pass smog relatively easily (relatively being the key word).

    With all of my rambling above, it all comes down to: Buying the best car you can find; getting a very thorough PPI (Pre-Purchase Inspection) by an expert it older Ferraris; being prepared to bring the car to top conition (otherwise, why bother...) and properly maintain it; and, most importantly, finding the right mechanic.

    I hope this helps.

    Regards,

    Art S.
     
  3. Stefano1

    Stefano1 Karting

    Dec 28, 2008
    53
    San Francisco
    Full Name:
    Stefano Bini
    I appreciate you taking the time to answer my question so thoroughly. Have an excellent new year. As I see cars that come on, I will take your advice and post the VIN (?) and link (?) for the car and get people's perspective. I heard you loud and clear on the costs and will need to factor that into any decision. I do not have the time for a rebuild, so I will try to find a pretty nice one to start. Cheers!
    Stefano
     
  4. Simon^2

    Simon^2 F1 World Champ

    Oct 17, 2005
    11,657
    At Sea Level
    That sentence concerns me. Ferrari's are expensive luxuries. Don't let a 15-20K purchase price fool you... They cost more than a civic to keep running. If you can stomache the cost, the reward is priceless
     
  5. SouthJersey400i

    SouthJersey400i Formula 3

    Mar 14, 2007
    1,200
    Romulus, NY (Finger Lakes)
    Full Name:
    Ken Battle
    Stefano
    I bought an '84 400i just over 2 years ago. Unlike you I can do most everything on a car, but on a Ferrari I have many limitations. Fortunately, I have not reached many of those limitations yet. For example, this winter I am having the dash recovered. It took two tries to find a good match for the leather; my total cost to recover the dash and defroster strip will be about $800. I removed the dash myself with input from this forum! This is the first out-of-pocket labor cost of any significance.

    I took about 3 months from purchase to put the car on the road (winter) and did a pretty thorough check of all systems (except the AC belts!). I had several things to sort out but the cost was in the 3 to low 4 digit range. I then put 4000 miles on the car the first year with only minor extra cost. The second winter I did some more R&R and did another 3000+ miles that year. The car is now "down" for its third winter R&R. Besides the dash I do not anticipate major cost layouts. I bought a kit to replace all of the fuel injection lines and I will do that work myself.

    My goal is to make the car a little bit better each year that I own the car. I will repair any new faults as they arrive and upgrade old ones on a priority basis. I paid $20K for my car and its value is nominally the same today. So maintenance cost must be "paid for" by enjoyment of the car, not as an investment.

    Due to your lack of car savvy, the previous recommendations are appropriate as to buying 'a good one'. I can tolerate more pain but I did well with my purchase. The cars are great touring cars but your children will out grown the back seats before too long. In the mean time it is a great family car for weekend trips or vacations. No matter how hard you look at the condition of a car, expect issues like faulty switches, relays or other electrical equipment. These arrive on their own schedule!

    As for passing CA inspection, I think a 400i with cats will pass. If no cats, it will not pass unless exempt for the year.

    Keep us informed!
    Ken
     
  6. bundas

    bundas F1 Veteran
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Dec 31, 2005
    6,885
    lexington ky usa
    Full Name:
    mitchell barnes
    i wanted a 400 and went overboard, bought three in one week. an after PPI found one of three OK. OH well. two years later i own four, no they do not reproduce. old man having fun. don't ask how much! answer will not make sense. go with PPI first, good advice
     
  7. Stefano1

    Stefano1 Karting

    Dec 28, 2008
    53
    San Francisco
    Full Name:
    Stefano Bini
    Thanks Ken and Mitch! Great advice. I will keep looking. I hope to find one soon. 4 Mitch? that's pretty impressive.
     
  8. willrace

    willrace F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Oct 21, 2006
    17,661
    North Tay-has
    Full Name:
    Kurt
    LOLLerz........The first step is admitting you have a..........
    :D :D
     
  9. Stefano1

    Stefano1 Karting

    Dec 28, 2008
    53
    San Francisco
    Full Name:
    Stefano Bini
    I have now looked at or read about a fair few of these cars and it seems that not infrequently the shocks have been replaced with coil overs, the starter replaced with a more powerful british version, and occasionally the exhaust has been altered or rebuilt with different/less expensive parts. My question is whether aftermarket alterations should detract from the price or the value of a car? On the whole, from everything I have read, frequently these are improvements over the original, but I suspect that original cars are worth more if they have the original "parts". I guess my question is whether one should be concerned/stay away from cars that have been "altered"?
     
  10. aidanparte

    aidanparte Formula 3
    Silver Subscribed

    Jul 18, 2004
    1,174
    I think these modifications don't affect the desirability of a car, particularly the starter motor upgrade, unless you are a stickler for originality. The starter motor upgrade increases reliability, which must be a good thing if you intend to drive the car.

    Aidan
     
  11. Brennan

    Brennan Karting

    Apr 28, 2006
    118
    San Luis Obispo, CA
    Full Name:
    Brennan Johnson
    Should we bring up the issue of correct and original TRX wheels and tires again??? :)

    Brennan Johnson
    San Luis Obispo, CA
    '84 400i # 47583

     
  12. aidanparte

    aidanparte Formula 3
    Silver Subscribed

    Jul 18, 2004
    1,174
    What issue would that be, then?

    Aidan
     
  13. Ak Jim

    Ak Jim F1 Rookie
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Dec 23, 2007
    4,715
    North Pole AK
    I think these cars are different because they are so inexpensive. If you were spending a 100k or more on a Ferrari or you had one of the really rare cars then you are really locked into the originallity issues. My opinion is these cars are ment to be drivers. I can't imagine getting one of the expensive models such as a Daytona and really driving much, I would always be too worried about it. Now when we look at these cars I would say don't do anything that is not reversable and keep the old parts. Go ahead and put a modem starter or MSD ignition in it! If you are going to drive the car make it be the best driver you can. I really don't understand people that buy a car and drive it 200 miles per year.
     
  14. SonomaRik

    SonomaRik F1 Veteran
    Silver Subscribed

    Dec 15, 2006
    6,699
    Sonoma, CA
    anyone know of 400 GT, federalized and good condition, stateside?

    rik
     
  15. Ak Jim

    Ak Jim F1 Rookie
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Dec 23, 2007
    4,715
    North Pole AK
    According to Dave's data base there were only 4 of these in the US. Peter Sweeney had one for sale last spring and sold it in a matter of a few hours.
     
  16. ArtS

    ArtS F1 Veteran
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Nov 11, 2003
    5,971
    Central NJ
    Rik,

    Can you be more specific?

    Regards,

    Art S.
     
  17. blkprlz

    blkprlz Formula 3

    Mar 24, 2007
    2,158
    Tampa bay
    Full Name:
    Bruce
    I think what Aidan is saying is that 215/70VR-15's were also stock for the 400s. Being that the TRX s are 16.3" & the overall tire dia. of the 2 (TRX vs. XWX) are the same, TRXs are lower profile, & I think, look better; plus the load rating is 200# higher than the XWXs & its tread more distinctive.
     
  18. aidanparte

    aidanparte Formula 3
    Silver Subscribed

    Jul 18, 2004
    1,174
    Bruce

    I was being a bit facetious about the TRX issue, as the issue has been flogged to death many times!

    BTW, I finally got around to ordering the upgraded Hella headlamps, following your recommendation. Thanks.

    Aidan
     
  19. blkprlz

    blkprlz Formula 3

    Mar 24, 2007
    2,158
    Tampa bay
    Full Name:
    Bruce
    I know, I know.....after all the flogging, some still don't. There'll always be newcomers.

    That's great Aidan, I rarely get to use mine/only early on during the start of the Sun. AM runs.
    I still need to connect my daylight flashers to use as fogs also.

    Bruce
     

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