I bought my car at the end of 1997. It looked reasonable ok. A Ferrari specialist checked it and advised that the car needed some repairs but was acceptable. I was totally in love with the car; rational thinking at that time about the car was far away. Anyhow I drove the car for 1.5 years (10000 km's) and then suddenly cooling fluid came out of the left exhaust.
At that time (spring 1999) I started to lift the engine out of the car. I disassembled the engine to find out what the problem with the cooling fluid leakage was, a Ferrari specialist checked all components and advised my to overhaul the whole engine. The only difficult part of the assembling process was the removal of the cylinder heads. A specialist garage helped with special tools because when I tried to remove the head they didn't move an inch. It took him a couple of days to remove the heads without any damage.
I replaced the pistons, valves, guides, seats, time chain, bearings etc., and I balanced the crankshaft together with the all assemblies belonging to the crankshaft. The left cylinder head had been welded by a specialist company (this leakage caused the smoke coming out of the left exhaust). I'm told that 400 cylinder heads are known for their soundness and cracks in them are very rare. Unclear was in this case what caused this problem. I noticed not all cooling channels in the cylinder head were open, so maybe is was caused by local overheating. I think previous owners didn't frequently
change the cooling fluid.
In the mean time I learned that the car was originally sold in France and then shipped to the United States. In 1992 it came back to Holland.
I cleaned the carburetors, refurbished them with new needles etc. and I assembled the complete engine. The Ferrari specialist I know for more than 20 years (Kees van Stokkum, Achterveld in the Netherlands) advised me and helped me a lot in this process and the engine could have its test run in his company. Putting the engine together is in principle not difficult if you use the right sequence as described in the manual. Important is though that you are not in a hurry and that you use the right torque values as described in the manual. Adjusting (timing) the 4 camshafts needs a lot of attention because it's very important that the timing of the camshafts is correct, otherwise the valves can touch the pistons. I had done my work properly because the engine was running by the first attempt to start it up. The engine was then fully tuned as far as possible.
In the mean time I completely disassembled the car. The suspension I have sandblasted and re-painted and all joints I have replaced. Nice detail is that at the back of my car the joints are partly rubber bushes and metal joints and at the front my car has only metal joints (365 GT4 specification).
The shock absorbers were tested and proved to be in a bad condition. I replaced all 4 shock absorbers and the special self-levelers at the back (my car had 4 shock absorbers at the back). Lucky me, because Ferrari doesn't supply these self-levelers anymore.
The callipers are overhauled, I bought new break discs (directly from Brembo - much cheaper), and I replaced all brake tubes and fuel tubes. The automatic gearbox is overhauled (I bought a bigger aluminium "race" oil pan with more cooling capacity). The cooling water radiator has more capacity than standard (I installed a bigger cooling block with a better design.. With high outside temperatures and slow speed the water temperature tends to go up. I will also replace the original vents by examples with bigger capacity or add an extra fan. I will also replace all cooling hoses. The air-conditioning is made suitable for "R-134".
The differential has been checked and all seals are replaced.
All rubber components will be replaced (doorseals, window seals, etc.) and
I will also replace all badges.
All the leather in the interior is replaced by new Connolly leather.
The body had more rust than I hoped. First I have taken the car to a company which was afterwards not capable of restoring the body properly (see pictures 1,2,3,4,5). After 1.5 years I removed the body from there and brought it to a specialist coachwork restoration company which is doing a great job (Kuiper & zoon VOF in Westzaan in the Netherlands). They restored a couple of Ferrari's (also two 400's) and restore all kinds of other special cars. They replace all parts which are rusty (see pictures) with metal plates with zinc coating. They use the method of welding that Ferrari originally used. They will keep the car as original as possible. They have all kinds of special tools and can copy all panels etc. on my car, which are rusty. Real professional craftsmen. They guarantee their work for 5 years.
The doors are new and also the bottom side of the boot (the Dutch Ferrari importer had them still in stock from a long time ago and I could take them for a nice price)
I will replace front and rear window (front is broken and rear was disassembling itself; the window exists of two layers which started to come off each other).