1972 Ferrari 365 GTC/4 vs. 1989 Ferrari 412i Automatic

2019 Paul Harmer and Drive-My EN/UK

Four-seat Ferrari V12s – Colombo-engined treats that are undervalued Who wouldn’t dream of a V12 Ferrari? Shame they’re worth quite so much money. Robert Coucher examines two urban thoroughbreds that cost a little less. Photography Paul Harmer.


Hot in the city tonight

Every gentleman driver should experience the joys of a V12 engine. Sophisticated, refined, powerful and sonorous – or dead quiet – the V12 represents the acme of automotive engineering. Whether from Rolls-Royce, Cadillac, Jaguar or Lamborghini, the V12 is the aristocratic blue-blood of internal combustion. The first car to bear Enzo Ferrari’s name was the 125S of 1947, which was powered by a jewel-like 1.5-litre V12 designed by Gioacchino Colombo and regarded as one of the finest V12s ever. Ferrari continued to use Colombo’s genius design, evolving it over the years to power its greatest sports cars including the 166 Barchetta, 250 California Spyder, the 250GT, 250 GT SWB and 250 GTO, 250 GTO Track-car275GTB and then stretched it for the 365 GTB/4 Daytona. This magnificent engine was current for over 40 years and most collectors value V12 Ferraris above all others. Yes, a ‘proper’ Ferrari should have a V12 engine, preferably mounted up front.

1972 Ferrari 365 GTC/4 vs. 1989 Ferrari 412i Automatic

1972 Ferrari 365 GTC/4 vs. 1989 Ferrari 412i Automatic

And there’s the rub. Front-engined V12 Ferraris were always built in small numbers so their values have gone stratospheric and are now mostly measured in millions, putting them out of the reach of most enthusiasts. But the two you see here – a 1972 365 GTC/4 and a last-of-line 1989 412 – are the real V12 deal yet at much more realistic money. Of course, there’s no such thing as a ‘cheap’ 12-cylinder Ferrari because they were always so special, but these two are old-school and largely do without built-in electronic obsolescence.

Their V12 engines – in essence descendants of Colombo’s original gem – benefit from strong timing chains, so no belts to be changed every couple of years, while the 365 GTC/4 runs with Weber carbs and the 412’s injection is via twin Bosch K-Jetronic units as found on most classic Mercedes and Volkswagen products, so mostly they can be fixed with a screwdriver, without recourse to a laptop. Here are two of the finest and most elegant of V12 GT cars that proudly wear Cavallino Rampante badges on their bonnets. GT normally stands for Gran Turismo but, in this context, Gentleman’s (and Gentlewoman’s, naturally) Tourer might be a better moniker. Let’s see what transpires on the road.

‘It is pure pedigree Ferrari – which becomes evident the moment you depress the throttle’

The 365 GTC/4 was produced for 18 months from 1971, and only 500 were built, which makes it a lot rarer than its more overtly sporting 365 GTB/4 Daytona sibling – to which it is often compared – of which 1284 were made from 1968 to ’1973. The GTC/4 was penned by Filippo Sapino at Pininfarina. More sharp-edged than the Daytona, the GTC/4 has a very low bonnet line and Kamm tail, pop-up headlights, and a somewhat controversial matt black resin nosecone and matching rear bumper. In the case of this example, its dark Blu Ortis goes well with the black bumpers – these cars are very colour-sensitive and this hue has to be the best.

At launch the 356 GTC/4’s styling drew some criticism for being ‘un-Ferrari-like’ and it soon picked up the nickname Il Gobbone – ‘hunchback’ – which seems grossly unfair. Over time the car’s elegant lines have aged well, probably because we are now used to the sizable Ferraris of the modern era. And being punted as the ‘softer’ option to the sporting Daytona, the more expensive GTC/4 was seen as the secondary V12 in the Ferrari stable, which was never going to light up the sales figures.

It does feature the same short-stroke, high-revving 4.4-litre engine as Big Daddy Daytona but with milder camshafts, side-draught 38 DCOE Weber carbs, a wet sump and lower compression. The V12 musters 340bhp against the Daytona’s 352bhp, but the GTC/4 carries an extra 150kg in kerb-weight: it’s pretty meaty at 1730kg. Top speed is quoted at 163mph, with the 0-60mph sprint done in 6.7 seconds. Which is hardly lethargic.

The good news is that the GTC/4 has a hydraulically actuated clutch, power-assisted steering and air conditioning. Its chassis is derived from that of the Daytona, with independent wishbones all round, but here the gearbox is mounted directly to the back of the engine, unlike the Daytona’s rear-mounted transaxle, and this five-speed gearshift has the conventional pattern, doing away with the Daytona’s awkward dogleg first gear.

Clockwise from left 4.9-litre V12 is a development of the 365 GTC/4’s and features fuel injection; incongruous transmission selector controls a GM three-speed auto; sumptuous-looking rear seats promise more room than the 365’s. Clockwise from top Deep blue suits the GTC/4 better than many colours: matt black nosecone and rear bumper are more obvious with other hues; V12 is a detuned version of the Daytona’s; rear seats are tiny. Right and above GTC/4 was launched as a more luxurious sibling to the racier Daytona and is simultaneously rarer yet less valuable; gearshift features a gaiter rather than the more familiar open gate.

Central London is probably not the best location to test these fast GT cars but we have come up with a cunning plan. Let the Friday evening traffic dissipate as photographer Paul Harmer does his beauty shots, then blast them down the quietening M4 motorway and through our well-tried backroad route into town again. Both cars have come from Graeme Hunt’s emporium, located in upmarket Kensington’s Radley Mews, and it’s perfectly located for a quick escape. We should be in for an evening of motoring fun.

Each of these Ferraris looks spectacular in the fading light. The immaculate 365 GTC/4 appears more menacing than the genteel and conservative 412, which was penned by the legendary Leonardo Fioravanti. Open the door of the left-hand-drive 365 GTC/4 and you are met with the rich aroma of Connolly leather. The office is pure Ferrari, with a fit-for-purpose Momo steering wheel and huge chrome gearshift protruding proudly from the wide centre console, itself covered in a smattering of old-fashioned toggle switches, ventilation slides, air-conditioning controls and a top-of-the- range radio/cassette player.

Slide into the well-stuffed tan leather chair – no faux boy racer buckets here! – and you’ll find the driving position has you ensconced but not prone. The rear ‘+2’ seats are vestigial at best but offer good luggage space when folded flat. Turn the ignition key, give the six twin-choke Webers a few dabs, then allow the unique-sounding Ferrari starter motor to engage the V12. Oh yes, this is the business.

Even at idle the big mill sounds exciting and it’s raring to go. The gaitered lever – rather than the usual exposed chrome gate – slots cleanly into gear, being weighty but accurate. Let the nicely assisted clutch out and the car moves off in its very tall first gear. Into second and wait for the crunch from the cold ’box, but there’s none, even though the transmission isn’t yet at full operating temperature. The power-assisted ZF steering box imparts a smooth and precise feel, and the all-independent suspension is well controlled via Koni dampers with hydraulic self-levelling at the rear. The lovely Cromodora alloys are shod with high-profile Michelin XWX 225/70 x 15 tyres, which also help smooth the ride over London’s potholed roads.

‘This engine is no loafer, rather a hard-revving performance unit that rushes forcefully to the redline’

Busy Kensington is not the environment for a big classic GT but the ‘C’ behaves like a pussy cat. It warms and loosens and you can feel it pulling on the leash. The turning circle is not great but it behaves impeccably, which is no big surprise seeing as this one is an immaculate concours winner with full Ferrari Classiche certification. I’m not normally a fan of Weber carbs on road cars because they are optimised to work best at full throttle, but here the six 38 DCOEs are sharp, smooth and perfectly adept in harnessing the V12’s creamy torque. But soon it’s time to aim the 365 GTC/4 down the motorway. The traffic lights change to green so down with the throttle and – goodness! – it goes a long way, then even further. This is where the GT turns into a Maranello thoroughbred. Give the four-cam V12 its head, the Cavallino is released and you realise that this engine is no loafer, rather a hard-revving performance unit that rushes forcefully to the redline at 7000rpm. You need to be assertive with the gearbox but it works cleanly when you really start to drive the car.

There’s nothing quite like the extravagance of a Ferrari V12 at full yowl and this GTC/4 is epic. The sound vortexing out of the quad tailpipe snaps is simply gorgeous. Though it’s not exactly quiet, the 365 suffers no wind noise and, with such long gearing, you can dial back and calm the mechanical din by running on the torque curve. It sweeps through the motorway curves, feeling planted, predictable and composed, with zero understeer evident, yet it’s always supremely comfortable. Like all really well-engineered cars, it gets better the faster you go and the large vented disc brakes haul this GT back down with confidence.

The 365 GTC/4 has long been overshadowed by the more potent 365 GTB/4 Daytona, but for real-world road use it is the better car. More sophisticated and better resolved, it will stay right with a Daytona except in a flat-out top speed duel. Value? Yes, it has always commanded half the price of a Daytona and probably always will. Which is good news if you want the more resolved tourer.

The GTC/4 Was replaced by the 365 GT4 2+2 in 1972, a model that evolved into the 400, the 400i, then in 1985 the 412, and this example is one of the last in the line, being an ’89 car. so it is the ultimate evolution of this model and the opposite book-end to the 365 GTC/4; it’s also one of the best-looking four-seater Ferraris ever. For an often-overlooked model, this series was very successful and the longest-running at 17 years, with some 2900 built, of which the final 576 were 412s. The car’s chassis is based on the 365 GTC/4’s and the engine is the same V12 but bored out to 4943cc with fuel injection. It produces the same 340bhp but with usefully more torque: 333lb ft at 4200rpm plays 318lb ft at 4300rpm.

If any Ferrari became unloved and neglected, the 400 line was it and thus many have not survived. But this beautiful example is again immaculate, with only 29,500 miles showing on the clock. Finished in elegant Ciaro blue with cream interior, it is the actual Earls Court Motor Show car. It appears larger than the ‘C’ and a clever tweak is the fitment of slightly larger alloy wheels shod with 240/55 x 15 TRX Michelins. Rear seating is more capacious and the interior is a modernised version of the older car’s: not quite so charming but more ergonomically efficient.

And what’s this, an automatic gear selector? Yes, a first for Ferrari, this three-speed is a tough GM unit and the car also features the first ABS ever offered by Maranello. Hmm, this discreet and elegant gentleman’s express is starting to look like an Italian Mercedes-Benz 560 SEC C126. Except it is absolutely not.

Discreet and elegant certainly, but it is pure pedigree Ferrari – which becomes evident the moment you depress the throttle. The otherwise restrained exhaust note turns spinetingling as the high-revving V12 spins to the max against the long-legged auto. Sure, the fuel injection mutes the induction note, the sound is less emotive than the snuffling Webers of the ‘C’, and the 412 is quieter. And with the three-speed auto, acceleration is not as sharp as in the earlier car, with 0-60mph taking around eight seconds. But the 412 was never intended as a traffic light dragster and it comes into its own once on the move: top speed is achieved in top gear, which is good for 150mph.

The 412 handles beautifully, with secure roadholding that belies its 1850kg kerb-weight. The first-generation ABS brakes need a firm shove but that’s probably because you are travelling faster than you think, thanks to the car’s balance and ease of control.

An immaculate, pure-bred Ferrari GT with a legendary Colombo-designed V12 mounted up-front, the 412 is the more refined and usable Ferrari here, but the 365 GTC/4 is more special and is the one you’ll want. And here’s the reality check: the lovely 365 GTC/4 is more than four times the value of the 412. Not surprisingly, both have already sold – and the former was advertised at £275,000.

Thanks To Graeme hunt, www.graemehunt.com, for these beautiful Ferraris.



Engine 4943cc V12, DOHC per bank, Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection

Max Power 340bhp @ 6000rpm

Max Torque 333lb ft @ 4200rpm

Transmission GM three-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive

Steering Rack and pinion, power-assisted

Suspension Front and rear: double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar (self-levelling at rear)

Brakes Vented discs

Weight 1810kg

Top speed 150mph

0-60mph 8.3sec

{module Ferrari 400}


Engine 4390cc V12, DOHC per bank, six twin-choke Weber 38 DCOE carburettors

Max Power 340bhp @ 7000rpm

Max Torque 318lb ft @ 4300rpm

Gearbox Five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive

Steering ZF recirculating ball, power-assisted

Suspension Front and rear: double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar (self-levelling at rear)

Brakes Discs

Weight 1730kg

Top speed 163mph

0-60mph 6.7sec



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Additional Info
  • Year: 1972-1989
  • Body: Coupe 2+2
  • Type: Petrol
  • Engine: Colombo V12
  • Type: Petrol