When I decided to do this,” Jim Busby tells me of his inspiration two years ago, “I thought to myself, what if somebody had walked into Enzo Ferrari’s office and said, ‘Mr. Ferrari, we need to make a GTC version of the 400i because the FIA will change the rules and that car could be perfect in a new category.’ What would Enzo build? How would he do it? I tried to imagine what that would be.”
The answer? According to Busby—former drag racer, perennial hot rodder, two-time class winner at Le Mans, IMSA icon, F1 Clienti aficionado, and race-car constructor—Ferrari would have created something like the machine you see here: a one-off track-ready muscle marvel Busby calls the 400i GTC.
In order to build a competition version of a road car, of course, you need to start with that road car. Busby found this once dingy grey non-running 1982 example (s/n 39227), then housing dead leaves and old bird nests, in Los Angeles. It had no traceable past—its last owner’s name redacted on the title, the last valid registration in Maine 14 years ago—which is uncommon for a classic Ferrari. But then the 400i, of which 1,308 were produced between 1979 and ’84, was a relatively unpopular model, being expensive, heavy at 4,100 pounds, and only brought to the U.S. through the grey market.
“I was told the car had been in a flood,” Busby recalls, “and it smelled like it, even though there wasn’t a speck of rust or corrosion anywhere.”
It was the perfect starting point for a track car, so Busby bought it for, as he puts it, “virtually nothing.” Good enough. On April 24, 2015, he had the Ferrari hauled to his shop, Jim Busby Racing, in Laguna Beach, California.