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Retropower Rarities: Jim Busby’s Ferrari 400i ‘GTC’
Of all the front-engined, would-be grand tourers produced by Ferrari over the years, the 400i/412 has probably been the most divisive. Upon its launch in 1972 the motoring press was divided, with some seeing it as being one of the classiest three-box executive saloons yet built, a masterclass in how to cross country at pace and in understated comfort.
Others associate the 412 most closely with Ferrari’s nadir, the era when the company eschewed its driver-focussed appeal and instead mounted an all-out assault on the executive car market, a move underscored by the fitment of an off-the-peg (and much maligned) autobox fom GM.
Whichever view you hold, it’s undeniable that the era when slightly tired examples of the 412 and its 400i predecessor could be picked up for (relative) peanuts is now firmly in the rear-view mirror. It’s an old Ferrari, remember, and as such even the ropiest examples command figures within spitting distance of a hundred-grand now that we’re so firmly into the 21st century, and the decade in which the 400-series was designed, birthed and sold fades into the background.
And then there’s the example you see before you, one made modestly famous via social media some years ago, but which still retains the power to amaze – at least to our eyes. That it exists is down to an American called Jim Busby, once a professional racer in his own right and twice a class winner at Le Mans. Busby had long harboured a ‘thing’ for Ferrari’s unloved executive saloon, and when he chanced upon an unloved example back in 2015 (so unloved enough that it’d been flooded and its interior left sodden, with predictably pungent results) he didn’t need to think for long before commencing buying the car.
Buying the car was the easy bit, with Busby’s long term goal being to turn this dedicated cruiser (an overwhelming majority of buyers ticked the auto transmission option when specifying their cars) into an out-and-out race car. Or as Busby himself put it, the 400i Enzo Ferrari would’ve built had he been compelled to produce a ‘racy’ variant for a fictitious race series in period – a 400i ‘GTC’, if you will.
One of the most damning charges laid at the door of the 400i when current was this it was simply too heavy to be deemed in any way thrilling to drive with gusto, so of course Busby commenced the build by submitting his example of a crash diet, presumably made easier by so much of the interior having succumbed to mould. Almost 500kg was eventually stripped from the Ferrari, much of it the sort of it made up of ruined interior fabric and long since superseded interior hardware.
Given the dramatic re-orientation of purpose it was being subjected to, it was only natural that a good portion of Busby’s time would be dedicated to re-engineering the drive-train of his Ferrari. The OE V12 was evicted and replaced, Busby reasoning that the similarly configured 5.7l from the 575M would be both lighter and more powerful. He then mounted it a foot further back and mated it to a Tremec T-56 Magnum six-speed, a ‘box far, far better suited to high performance work – and needed thanks to the cars newfound 510bhp output.
Custom suspension and uprated brakes were a no-brainer, though Busby did make sure to preserve the core of the 400’s original chassis as a nod to its origins, albeit in a highly modified form so as to accommodate the new rear-end and Speedway Engineering differential. The suspension pick-up points were also relocated to account for the massive 6in reduction in ride height from stock.
Visual tweaks are multifarious but subtle, a wise move given that the 400’s lines have only become more distinctive with the passage of time and the evolution of automotive styling, though the rear arches have been aggressively tubbed in order to fit the custom 13x11 (front) and 13x18in custom wheels. This – and in fact all other altered aspects of the bodywork – has been carried out in steel, a further nod to Busby’s desire to build the sporting 400 Enzo might’ve commissioned in period.
Completed over the course of a manic, 60-day period, Busby’s been true to his word – the Ferrari has become a semi-regular sight at track days and quarter-mile events. It has also proved to be a remarkably balanced and tractable proposition, more than steerable on the throttle and with none of the compromises inherent in smaller, more laser-focussed Ferrari racers.
Indeed, Busby reckons that his creation has the legs to reach 200mph given enough space, a figure he feels is more than attainable given how civilised it has proved to be – and it should be even more attainable with power-boosting modifications he plans on doing to the new engine. Not bad for a car once classed as one of Ferrari’s least inspiring cars from a driving dynamics standpoint.

 

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Il y a 9 heures, Franck_RS a dit :

J’aime beaucoup. Par bien des aspects cela rappelle l’alfa 164 procar, conçue pour le championnat « silhouette » qui ne vit jamais le jour 

 

https://www.carjager.com/blog/article/alfa-romeo-164-procar-un-v10-dans-une-berline.html

 

ceux qui ont pu rouler ça on du bien s'éclater

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