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.

Ferrari GTC4

More expensive than a Daytona
when new.

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.

More Articles

Ferraris and Dutch Auctions

Marketing theory from the 1600s Readers of this article are familiar with the world of collector car auctions. The auctioneer starts with a high price, reads the crowd’s reaction, lowers the price until […]

READ MORE

Digital Buying

Just as the fax machine helped fuel an explosion in the collector car market in the ’80s by making information available instantly and inexpensively, databases and the Internet are fueling a very different […]

READ MORE

Low-Buck Horsies

Like locusts, e-mails seeking advice about enny-level Ferraris descend daily. Each time SCM reports on a 400i or Mondial 8 selling for under $20,000, readers check their Visa card limits and start fantasizing […]

READ MORE

Ferrari F1, #7, 1996-1999: The Early Schumacher Years

Where We Left Off   In the sixth installment of this series we reviewed the John Barnard designed 639 and 640, the Steve Nichols and Jean-Claude Migeot designed 641 and 642, the Jean-Claude […]

READ MORE

Favorite Ferraris Under $100k

I get dozens of phone calls and e-mails from would-be first-time Ferrari buyers, and I always ask them the same questions: What’s your “real” budget? Do you have any idea how much to […]

READ MORE

THE EVERY-DAY EXOTIC

Ferrari’s four-seat V12 models may not have the same cachet as its two-seaters, but these 2+2s are no less worthy of the famed Prancing Horse badge. They are fast, exotic, comfortable and, despite […]

READ MORE