Ferrari 400 Superamerica, four-wheeled haute couture



Heir to the 410 Superamerica, produced in two series from 1960 to 1964, the Ferrari 400 Superamerica is a wonderful representation of classicism and elegance, an excellent manifesto of the concept of Italian Gran Turismo.


The name 400 Superamerica is a combination of novelty and tradition for the Maranello house. The Superamerica suffix maintains a strong link with the States, like the previous 342, 375 and 410, while the figure 400 entails a change in the Ferrari nomenclature, no longer based on the unit displacement, but on the total displacement, which reaches 4000 cm³.


The change of name, however, generates an initial confusion among the potential and very lucky customers, who hypothesize that the figure indicated the number of horses under the bonnet, and to complicate the matter Ferrari itself, which from the documents of the test room it erases the data relating to power, increasing its mystery and fascination for the car.


Presented at the Turin Motor Show in October 1959, the first 400 Superamerica, with chassis number 1517 SA, was built for Gianni Agnelli. The lawyer had made a particular request to Giovanni Battista Farina: to build a Ferrari that at first glance did not look like a Ferrari.


In fact, it is no coincidence that this pre-series is characterized by a massive front, by the large square-shaped radiator grille, slightly rounded at the corners, accompanied by stylistic details of the American school, such as the wraparound windshield and double headlights. with horizontal development.



The rear lights, on the other hand, are made up of three circular elements, placed inside a vertical chrome frame, which will also be taken from other models of the Maranello car manufacturer.


Aesthetic updates will be made between the presentation model and the one received by the Fiat President, in line with the tastes of the prestigious customer.


The exclusive GT, unlike the previous 410 Superamerica, is not equipped with the long block engine of the engineer Lampredi, but the Tipo 163 engine designed by Giacchino Colombo. The 12-cylinder, capable of delivering 340 hp, has a displacement of 3,967 cm³, obtained from a bore / stroke ratio of 77:71, has a single overhead camshaft per cylinder bank and has a compression ratio of 8,8:1.


Three double-barrel Weber 40 DCZ/6, 42 DCN carburettors, or the Solex C40 PAAI, power the engine, while starting is entrusted to a double coil and an ignition distributor. The drive shaft allows motion by connecting the manual gearbox with four synchronized gears to the rigid axle, with the last gear being equipped with electric overdrive.



The frame, made of tubular steel with an oval section, is the technical element that distinguishes the two series: in the first version, the wheelbase was 2.420 millimeters until September 1962, when the debut of the 2,600 mm long wheelbase frame improves interior habitability, particularly for rear passengers.


Easily seen even with the naked eye, is the elongation between the door and the start of the rear fender. The frames, for both series, have as internal reference the number 538, with odd numbering typical of road Ferraris, to which is added the initials SA: obviously, we start from the aforementioned 1517 by Gianni Agnelli, up to number 5139.


However, the small anomaly concerning two 4-liter GTOs, chassis 3765 and 4561, and four 330 LM Berlinettas, chassis 4381, 4453, 4619, 4274, which bear the suffix SA, is curious.



The chassis consists of front suspension with independent wheels, oscillating arms and coil springs with individual shock absorbers, while at the rear there are rigid guide arms, supported by semi-eliptical leaf springs, and hydraulic shock absorbers on each wheel.


Disc brakes are present on all four wheels.


Despite being a car from the early 1960s, the driving experience is still able to give emotions today, especially thanks to the engine, powerful and rich in torque, which is always ready and reactive, responding blow for blow when the gentleman driver presses on the accelerator. The only component that shows any signs of age is the braking system, which suffers slightly if subjected to continuous efforts.


Produced for very wealthy customers, in only forty-six units, all bodyworked in the Pininfarina factories, with the exception of two Scaglietti signed cars, the Ferrari 400 Superamerica is like an Italian haute couture suit tailored to the customer's requests.

Consequently, it is impossible to find a model identical to the other.


The production consists of a Scaglietti Spider, a Scaglietti Berlinetta, nine Pininfarina Cabriolets and thirty-five Aerodinamica Coupè, signed by the Turin coachbuilder.


The only right-hand drive model is number 2311 SA, with the body identical to the 250 California, built by Scaglietti for Michiel Paul Cavalier, member of the Ferrari board of directors. As previously written, the high level of customization and exclusivity of the car makes it quite bizarre to make a unique cataloging.



The first differentiation is the type of bodywork, while the second concerns the Short Wheel Base wheelbase if we are talking about the short wheelbase version, and Long Wheel Base which indicates the long wheelbase series.


The cabriolet version, the first production car actually built, has the chassis number 1611 SA, and aesthetically it looks very similar to the contemporary 250 GT cabriolet: only the front grille is less deep, and equipped with fog lights at its ends.


The coupé variant requires a greater knowledge of the Ferrari world, in order to extricate itself into the small details that differentiate the models. Starting from the front, there are mainly two types: the most common have the front optical groups with plexiglass fairing and an oval-shaped front air intake, while if the customer opts for traditional circular headlights, called Type Rivets, name deriving from the first customer who orders this configuration, the whole front changes its appearance, very similar to the convertible version, with which it shares the grille in which the Prancing Horse stands out.


The doors also have two versions: the classic variant provides for opening through a chrome handle, equipped with a snap button, and a second where the door is opened by means of a retractable lever.


Another easily recognizable stylistic detail, which appeared for the first time in mid-1962, in correspondence with the modification of the chassis from 2420 to 2600 millimeters, is the appearance of a longitudinal bulge on the bonnet at the height of the carburetors, which will replace the intake chrome air present up to this moment.

Some cars have fairing rear wheels, the result of experiments on the 2207 SA chassis, a model rich in history, also known as Superfast II, III, IV.


Presented at the 1960 Turin Motor Show, as a design studio it stands out for its low and flowing lines, with long and supple lines that run throughout the body. The rear lights are circular in shape, and are encased in a chromed frame, while the retractable headlights, very interesting from an aesthetic point of view, will remain a unicum of this specimen, without developments in the standard version.


In the winter between 1960 and 1961 the first small changes will be carried out: following a bit the fashion of the moment, a large chromed air intake is inserted on the bonnet to make the engine breathe better, while the rear wheel fairing disappears, and the deflectors on glass surfaces make their debut.


Finally, the position lights are recessed in the upper part of the fenders.


At the 1962 Geneva Motor Show, Pininfarina will present a metamorphosis of this chassis, marking the debut of the Superfast III: the thinner pillars, the consequent increase in the glass surface, the return of the fairings on the rear wheels, and a new grille, are the main innovations. that characterize this model, in addition to a change of color, which goes from white to metallic green (for a short time the car will also be metallic gray).



A further evolution, the Superfast IV, will focus more on the front optical groups: the retractable headlights will be replaced by a pair of circular element lights, with a diameter of 18 centimeters for the external component, and 13 centimeters for the internal one (solution subsequently taken up for the 330 GT), while the modification relating to the rear pillar, which slightly raises the base of the rear window, will be more difficult to notice.


Entering the passenger compartment, substantially identical in all versions and without particular evolutions, you are immersed in an elegant but sober environment, where the Connoly leather upholstery is king. The driver's attention is also immediately drawn to the slim steering wheel with a large diameter, made of wood, the instrumentation rich in chrome and the long gear lever.


The atmosphere is luxurious but not ostentatious.



Even today, cars of this prestige are the dream of every enthusiast: it is therefore not surprising that, in the very rare exceptions in which the 400 Superamerica has appeared in the best auctions in the world, the prices have reached staggering figures, abundantly over one million euros.


Determining factors for the sale are the history of the model, the state of conservation, and the attention to detail during any restoration.


The 1960 SWB cabriolet, chassis 1945 SA, the third of seven produced, meticulously restored, deserves a mention: this, thanks to an unusual exterior and interior color configuration, Green Bottle MM 16364 for the body, and Rosso Connoly VW 3171 for the saddlery, reached a price of 6.380.000 US dollars on March 14, 2015, auctioned at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance. The proceeds were then totally donated to a charity that deals with childhood education.


DATA SHEET


Coupé, cabriolet, two-seater bodywork

Front engine position, longitudinal

Rear-wheel Drive


Dimensions and Weights (Aerodynamic Coupé Version)


Length 4369 mm

Width 1775 mm

Height 1300 mm

Front track 1359 mm

Rear track 1350 mm

Empty weight 1250 Kg

120 liters tank


Engine


V12 at 60°, Type 163

Single shaft distribution, two valves per cylinder

Displacement Bore x Stroke 77x71 mm, 3.967 cm³

Fueled by three Weber 46 DCF/3 carburettors


Mechanics


Power 250 Kw/430 hp at 7.000 rpm

Specific Power 86 hp/liter, 104 Nm/liter

Torque 412 Nm at 4,000 rpm

Mono ignition, two distributors

Single plate clutch

Manual gearbox four synchronized gears + electric overdrive + reverse

Frame


Tubular steel car body

Worm and sector steering

Independent front suspension, wishbones, coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers, stabilizer bar

Rear suspension with rigid axle, double lateral struts, longitudinal leaf springs, coaxial coil springs with telescopic shock absorbers

Disk brakes

Front tires 205/80/15

Rear tires 205/80/15

Rims 15"

Performance declared


Maximum speed 265km/h

Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 9.5 seconds, and from 0 to 400 meters in 17 seconds.


Luca Saitta

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