First-time Ferrari buyers want advice on the best car under $50,000. As markets and prices change, so does my advice, but for the last year my selection has consistently been the much-maligned 365 GTC/4. Most people are surprised at my choice and think I would prefer a 308/328, a 330 GTC or a 365 2+2.
If you want a 308/328, so be it. To us old guys, real Ferraris have 12 cylinders, not eight, and the engine is in the front, not the back.
As to the comparison with the 330 GTC or 365 2+2, newer is better. The GTC/4 has a four-cam engine with acres of torque, power steering that works, a shifter that your wife could shift, and functional brakes. A user-friendly Ferrari.
It has air conditioning that actually cools the interior, heaters that provide heat and rear seats that will fit a pair of five-year-olds. You think those things aren’t important? Try driving in freezing weather with a heater that doesn’t heat or through the desert with AC that doesn’t cool. I’ve done both and it is no fun.
The inevitable comment that “It’s not a Daytona“ always comes up, and the answer is simple. What else is?
Want to go one up on a Daytona? The C/4’s four exhaust pipes make shrieking V12 sounds that are even better than those from a Daytona, and the price is less than half that of a Daytona. Want even more? The C/4’s body is by Pininfarina, so compared to a Daytona, it is free of blemishes and rust.
Still not convinced? A well-tuned C/4 will do 150+ in fifth, for those who really want to go to jail. True, 150 is not the 170+ of a Daytona, but when was the last time you went over 150 mph?
When new, the 365 GTC/4 was the gentleman’s express, and I know more than a few friends who drove their new C/4s (yes, I’m really that old) across the USA and Canada with wives or girlfriends and their luggage on board, in great comfort. Try that in a Daytona. I have. You and a buddy might put up with the macho discomfort of a Daytona on a long run, but your lady might never speak to you again.
When new, a 365 GTC/4 sold for about $27,500, more than the $24,500 price of a USA Daytona. In the insane late ’80s, a good 365 GTC/4 sold for about $300,000. That was then, this is now. Today a good C/4 is less than $50,000, which is much less than one-half the cost of restoring one. This gentleman’s express of the ’70s is the under-$50,000 Ferrari bargain of the late ’90s.
MICHAEL SHEEHAN has been a Ferrari dealer for 30 years as well as a race car driver and exotic car broker.