x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Top 5: Underrated Ferraris throughout the years

A look at the overlooked prancing ponies that pose a good deal for potential buyers.

The 400i.
The 400i.

400i

Its designer suit might look dated now, but it's still sharp enough to cut your teeth on. The 400 is one of the all-time great GT cars, built between 1976 and 1989, and can be had for the same sort of money as a used Golf GTI. It put on a bit of middle aged spread in later life and became the ungainly 412, so go for the fuel-injected 400i. With leather-lined opulence and the glorious sound of a quad-cam V12 thrashing away up front, this forgotten Ferrari has a lot going for it, even if you do find one with the GM-sourced automatic gearbox.

Testarossa

1984 was a vintage year for the decade that style forgot and the Testarossa (meaning "redhead" on account of its painted camshaft covers) will forever be tainted with Miami Vice connotations, having been featured on the television show. Launched that year to take on Lamborghini's Countach, it was a mid-engined V12 supercar like no other. Prices are creeping up but you can still bag a good one for less than a new 3 Series. Just make sure you have a pastel suit and Spandau Ballet on the cassette player.

308 GT4

Replacing the sublime Dino as the entry-level Ferrari was always going to be a tough call, but this was quite a shock to the system. Curves gave way to sharp angles, beauty gave way to practicality. But the GT4, built between 1973 and 1980, was remarkable in many ways - it was a four-seater but still mid-engined and it was sketched by Bertone rather than Pininfarina. Unloved for decades, the GT4's time is nigh, as it set the template for every V8 Ferrari that followed it. 458 Italia, this is your great-grandfather.

Mondial T

Nobody could call the 308 GT4's successor a beauty, but the Mondial still delivered a mid-engined V8 hit with room for four adults. Most of the early cars have fallen into disrepair thanks to being bought by dreamers without the cash reserves for keeping a thoroughbred on the road, but the later ones, like the 3.2 and, the best of the bunch, the T, benefited by being nicer looking and having decent engines. They're still stigmatised as being undesirable but the convertibles, especially, are terrific value.

328

Inexplicably, the 328 and its 308 GTB forbear have remained relatively unloved by Ferrari snobs. This is unfair because they are unspeakably beautiful, reliable and entertaining to drive. One of Pininfarina's most perfect designs, the 328 improved on the 308 in almost every way, with more power and a more resolved front-end design. Really good examples are getting pricey but there are decent ones out there for a sixth of what a new 458 would cost. Park the two together and you'll see just how right the old one looks. Wonderful.