A new Ferrari was launched at the 1976 Paris Motor Show, much like at every other edition of the show. Maranello knows how to spring a surprise, keeping everyone on tenterhooks to find out about a new car, whether it is in terms of the line, performance, or the technical details.
The new 400 series was launched in Paris as a replacement for the 365 GT4 2+2, largely keeping its Pininfarina styling but with a few differences such as mounting the front spoiler on the lower part of the nose, the rims and the loss of the Prancing Horse from the radiator grille. Inside, the layout was more luxurious. Enzo Ferrari called it “a GT in evening dress”; it was dressed for elegance. The new model was called the 400 Automatic due to its automatic transmission, however, the 400 GT kept a manual transmission. The initials indicate the single cylinder engine with a total displacement of 4,823 cc.
In addition to its automatic transmission, the car was very spacious and was approved for the United States. Maranello had to suspend sales in the US of its previous 12-cylinder models that were not approved because of exorbitant costs. The 400 series was made specifically for the North American market, which had been of great interest to Enzo Ferrari ever since his friend Luigi Chinetti began to distribute his cars. However, despite these characteristics, it was not officially marketed in America, instead, it was sold on the second-hand market.
It was in Britain that this model enjoyed great success, of course, with the wheel on the right. Enzo Ferrari showed the courage to present a model that, in theory, distanced itself from the sports-only stereotype that would be in the minds of Ferrari fans. In those days, any possible connection between an automatic transmission and the racing world, from which Ferrari emerged, seemed lightyears away.