HOT LITTLE NUMBER MAGIC CAR PICS / #Lamborghini-400GT-2+2
Somehow, more seats equals less value, but savvy buyers will appreciate the 400GT 2+2
Perhaps it’s no surprise that the Lamborghini #400GT
2+2 looks just a wee bit squiffy – I suppose ‘different’ is more polite – for, in that famous fit of pique that turned Ferruccio Lamborghini from a dissatisfied Ferrari customer into a dream-maker, he instructed his team to build him a cross between an Aston Martin DB4, Corvette Stingray and an E-type Jaguar.
But, given that brief, it’s actually amazing that Lamborghini’s first models turned out as nicely as they did. The Touring-penned 350GT coupé of 1964 was quirky, but it got attention and set Lamborghini apart from the start. What’s more, although Lamborghini was an upstart, the fledgling marque already had considerable pedigree: Giotto Bizzarrini (the former chief engineer at Ferrari who oversaw projects including the 250GTO) created the 350GT’s magnificent quad-cam #V12
in an elegant riposte to his old boss, Enzo. The chassis and independent suspension, by Gian Paolo Dallara, were properly sophisticated, plus there were disc-brakes all round. Result? The alloy-bodied 350GT was simply better than Ferrari’s 330GTC. Don’t argue.
The Raging Bull of Sant’Agata escalated its battle with the Poncing Horse with the introduction of the 400GT 2+2. Although outwardly similar to the 350GT (quad headlights aside) and built on the same wheelbase, the new car was lengthened to provide accommodation for four. Indeed, every panel was different and the car was now clothed in steel, apart from the bonnet and boot lid. In another departure, Lamborghini chose to equip the 400GT 2+2 with its own five-speed gearbox rather than ZF five-speeder of its predecessor, and although its steel body made it heavier than the 350GT, the V12 had also grown from 3.5 to 4.0 litres, to deliver 320bhp.
On the road all of that translated into 0-60mph in 7.5 seconds and a top speed of more than 150mph. ‘Better than all the equivalent exotic and home-bred machinery in this glamorous corner of the fast car market’, raved one British magazine.
So what’s not to like? The more observant will have clocked right away that the 400GT 2+2 has no wing mirrors – but that’s because because the slim-pillared glasshouse offered amazing virtually all-round vision. How about the dashboard? It’s a riotous, chaotic mess of dials, toggles and lights – and it’s joyous!
They say Lamborghini lost $1000 on every 350GT and there’s no reason to suspect that the sums added up any better during production of the 400GT 2+2, which notched up 242 sales from 1966 to 1968. The reason for the company’s inability to balance the books will be obvious to anyone who has driven a 400GT 2+2: it’s beautifully (and expensively) built and undoubtedly more capable and complete than its Modena rivals. Some even rate these Touringbodied cars as the best ever true-classic Lambos.
And yet – and this is the best news of all – the 400GT 2+2 remains truly underappreciated in the marketplace. Prices are a whopping15-25% lower than those of the also undervalued two-seater 350GT (old-school polo-necked bachelors consider the extra ‘kiddy’ seats tantamount to castration by Connolly leather), and the 400GT 2+2 is as impressive on the road as it is attractively priced. It stacks up against any of the more obvious high-end 1960s GTs.
When new: In #1966
400GT 2+2 cost £7120 in UK, compared with a ‘mere’ £4068 for an Aston Martin DB6 saloon and £6516 for either a Ferrari 330GT 2+2 or GTC. Jaguar’s E-type 2+2 was a bargain at £2284, while Lamborghini’s Miura was a monster £9165.
1980s: At the height of the boom in 1989, price guides pitched the 400GT 2+2 at around £110,000. Miuras were close to double that, with 330GTCs also north of £200k. They’re not directly comparable, but Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytonas were trading closer to £300,000.
Low point: It’s hard to believe how cheap 400GT 2+2s were through the 1990s into the 2000s. In the mid-1990s, nice examples were routinely less than £40,000 at auction. At Monaco in 2000, a totally restored example made just £39,250.
2000s: In 2002 when a concours winner sold for £102,000 it was regarded as a ‘freak’ result; most cars were trading at around £60,000-90,000.
Today: In 2010 an exceptionally well cared-for 400GT 2+2 made £160,500 at auction; in 2011 an ex-Paul McCartney car with good originality made £122,500. Most recent open-market prices range from £143,000 to £229,000 – the latter price is the highest ever paid at auction for a 400GT 2+2 and bought a car fresh from a frame-off restoration. That puts the 400GT 2+2 within striking distance of the Daytona, but you won’t find a comparable 330GTC for comparable money. The 400GT 2+2 is also less than half the cost of an unspectacular Miura, but way, way more than half the car – and rarer, too.