The 250 series of raucous racers-for-the-road was dominating Ferrari’s production in the late 1950s. But Europe’s most glamorous performance carmaker also attracted clients who wanted more refinement and even more exclusivity. For them, there was the Ferrari 400 Superamerica.
The Ferrari 400 Superamerica has a shorter wheelbase than the SA 410.
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The Ferrari 400 Superamerica was changed in numerous ways from its 410 Superamerica predecessor. The chassis was new, with a shorter wheelbase of 95.2 inches (2420mm) versus 102.3 inches (2600mm), and it had a narrower track front and rear. Most important, it had a new engine. The 410 used a Lampredi-designed V-12 with roots in Ferrari’s 375 Formula 1 car. The 400’s V-12, by contrast, adopted the general architecture of the first Ferrari V-12, the engine designed by Gioachino Colombo.
The bore was increased, the stroke lengthened, and updates found in the Ferrari 250 GT engine, such as coil valve springs, were used. The new engine displaced 3967cc. Rounded to 4.0-liters, it meant the 400 name was the first time a Ferrari model designation reflected the overall displacement of the engine, rather than an individual cylinder in cubic centimeters. Horsepower was quoted at 340 at 7000 rpm.
The Ferrari 400 Superamerica was also the last model for which a client could order custom coachwork.
Every Ferrari 400 Superamerica was custom-ordered by its owner.
Pinin Farina did the styling for the first Ferrari 400 Superamerica (chassis 1517 SA), which made its debut at 1959’s Turin show. A stout one-off for Fiat’s Gianni Agnelli, it had a nearly rectangular-shaped body and quad headlamps. The next was a lovely cabriolet also from Pinin Farina; its showing at the Brussels Motor Show marked the official debut of the model.
Pinin Farina built 10 cabriolets in all. Scaglietti produced a spyder and a berlinetta. But the benchmark design for the 400 SA was unveiled at the 1960 Turin Auto Show. A spectacular flowing, tapered shape, this Ferrari (chassis 2207 SA) was known as Superfast II. Aldo Brovarone, the Pinin Farina stylist who designed the car, said his inspiration was the Vanwall F1 car.
Superfast II’s coachwork set the pattern for the majority of Ferrari 400 Superamericas that followed, including the models from 1961 on, for which the wheelbase was extended to 102.3 inches (2600mm). Each Ferrari 400 Superamerica was a custom-order car for its individual owner and a showpiece of the Ferrari craft.
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