Open V12 Ferrari for under $40k.


As described by the seller on eBay Motors: Here is your chance to buy a 12-cylinder Ferrari convertible. This is the best looking and performing 400i convertible in the world, a traffic stopper. I just drove the car about 100 miles and people gave me the thumbs up everywhere. The car is finished in red over parchment leather, with beige soft top in new condition. The engine is very quiet and strong and the transmission shifts very smoothly. This car is outstanding. The mileage is true and sworn to at 11,200 and it really shows. Enjoy spring and summer with a car that nobody else has.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1983 Ferrari 400i Conversion
Years Produced:1980-1984
Number Produced:approx. 1,308
Original List Price:$45,000 (not federalized)
SCM Valuation:$18,000-$22,500
Tune Up Cost:$3,400-$4,200
Distributor Caps:$375 (2 required)
Chassis Number Location:on top of steering column
Engine Number Location:in middle of the V, closer to the back than front
Club Info:Ferrari Club of America, PO Box 720597, Atlanta, GA 30358
Alternatives:1985-1989 Ferrari 412, 1983-1984 Bitter SC, 1969-1974 Maserati Indy, 1968-1978 Lamborghini Espada
Investment Grade:D

After 37 bids, this 1983 400i Spyder Conversion sold on eBay Motors for $38,950, April 14, 2004.
Anxious patient. Jumbo shrimp. Alone together. Resident alien. Legally drunk. Found missing. Dodge Ram. These are oxymorons, words that contradict themselves when strung together. Here’s another: cut coupe.
In the 1970s, manufacturers faced a waning demand for ragtops, so many just stopped building them. Air conditioning and sunroofs had become popular options, and carmakers the world over were sure that ominous U.S. regulations for roll-over standards were right around the corner. But there was still a demand for open cars. Enter the “conversion,” where coupes and hardtops (or in rare cases, four-doors) were turned into convertibles by aftermarket shops.
Some did a decent job of engineering these cut coupes, and the resultant cars had well-thought-out top mechanisms and steel substructures that made up for the rigidity lost to the Sawzall. Others built “convertibles” so structurally compromised that their cowl shake would give the San Andreas Fault a run for its money. I remember seeing a mid-1970s Lincoln four-door convertible, made from a sedan, with rear windows that missed the raised top by more than half an inch.
In the Ferrari world, both the 365 GTB/4 Daytona, and to a lesser extent the 275 GTB, have been cut to replicate the look of the Daytona Spyder and the 275 GTB NART Spyder, respectively. Although sales statistics are hard to find on the few cut 275 GTBs, the Daytona conversions are easier to track, with about 100 or so in existence. While these “Spyders” do bring a small bump in price over the coupes (say, $135,000 for the conversion, against $125,000 for a stocker-both of which pale in comparison to the $350,000 a factory Spyder can bring), like it or not, they still carry a stigma among collectors of being the bastard child that no one wants to admit being the father of. Like the asterisk that used to sit next to Roger Maris’ home run record, a cut car will always be a “Yes, but.” vehicle.
The 400i Spyder Conversion pictured here is a much different story. Understand, no 400i was ever sold new in the U.S., making all of them grey market cars. These “family Ferraris” usually come complete with a real back seat with room for four, and most tend to be automatics. To continue with the baseball analogy, we’re talking strike one and strike two here, as four-passenger and automatic Ferraris will never lead any appreciation scale.
While you might think that the additional stigma associated with being a cut coupe would be strike three for our subject 400i Spyder, you’d be wrong. The bottom line here is that in its original form, the 400i is no Daytona or 275 GTB, just a mostly unloved model that tends to sell in the mid twenties to the low thirties. This makes a chopped top-if it’s executed well-about the best thing that can happen to a 400i.
This particular car was modified by coachbuilder R. Straman Company of Costa Mesa, CA, and carries both sill plates and identifying plaques declaring it as such. Straman was so well known for his work in cutting Ferraris that most convertible conversions are declared by sellers as being his work-whether they are or not. In fact, the term “Straman conversion” has almost become generic, like “Kleenex.”
A plethora of supposed “low-mileage” 400is (this car included) are for sale at any given time. Beware of these claims, as most of these cars were delivered new with original speedometers in kilometers, meaning that almost every 400i received a new speedometer and odometer when it went through federalization modifications for entry into the U.S. So make sure you count the clock as starting when the car was first registered here, and take any odometer reading with a healthy grain of salt: If it reads in miles, it’s probably not accurate.
This nicely presented Spyder Conversion was listed and sold on eBay not once, but twice. In the first auction it went for a reported $49,950 with 23 bids. A bit of investigation, however, revealed that the high bidder was a victim of online identity theft, resulting in the purchase of both this Ferrari and a Cadillac Escalade by someone using his handle. After the seller re-listed the car, however, it sold for just a Ulysses S. Grant note under $39k. An e-mail to the seller confirmed that this time around the sale was good.
Exceptional 400i coupes can bring well into the thirties, making this spyder conversion a most reasonable buy. Unlike a working vacation, clearly misunderstood, or an exact estimate, a 12-cylinder Ferrari convertible that sells for less than $40,000 makes a hell of a lot of sense.-Dave Kinney
(Historical and descriptive information courtesy of the auction company.)

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