The Daytona, or Ferrari 365 GTB/4 to use its official title, was a replacement for the much admired 275 GTB/4 and first saw the light of day at the Paris motorshow of 1968. The Daytona moniker was reputedly coined by Ferrari enthusiasts and members of the media in recognition of the factory's memorable 1-2-3 victory in the 1967 Daytona 24 hour race. Another school of thought is that Ferrari had originally planned to employ the Daytona name, but changed their mind when news of the fact leaked prior to the model's launch. Whatever the facts, the name lives on!
The Daytona was penned by Leonardo Fioravanti of Pininfarina, the man behind the flowing lines of a whole range of legendary 'prancing horses' from the immortal Dino to the 288 GTO. The mix of steel and aluminium body panels were fashioned at Pininfarina in Turin and then shipped to the Scaglietti works in Modena, where they were mated to the substantial tubular steel chassis. The resulting units were then transported to the Ferrari factory in Maranello for the addition of the mechanical components. Early versions of the model featured a full-width Plexiglass cover for the twin headlights, but this design was replaced in 1971 by a pop-up system in deference to new Federal safety regulations that outlawed covered headlights.
The Tipo 251 engine was a development of the Lampredi DOHC V12 of the 275 GTB/4, and at 4,390cc was a third larger in capacity. Fed by six twin-choke Weber carburettors, it produced 352bhp at 7,500rpm; sufficient to propel the 2,822lb Ferrari to 60mph in under 5.5 seconds and on to a top speed of around 175mph. The unit drove through a five-speed transaxle to the rear wheels.
The suspension followed the pattern of the 275 GTB/4 with wishbones and coil springs front and rear. Steering comprised an unassisted worm and roller box, while braking was by ventilated discs all round, each operated on by a four-pot calliper. Period road tests found the system to be very much more powerful than that of the 275 GTB/4, with Autocar observing, "At all times the brakes gave supreme confidence and qualify as a perfect match for the performance."
Daytona production ran from 1968 to 1976, during which time a total of 1,406 examples are understood to have been built - 1,284 Coupes (including 15 Competizione versions) and 122 Spiders. Of the total, 158 Coupes and just seven Spiders were produced in righthand drive form. Not surprisingly, the rarer Spider versions have for many years commanded premium prices. The resulting cost and lack of availability of these factory-built cars has encouraged many owners over the years to have their Coupes converted to open models - the cars concerned are generally distinguishable from the factory models by their more heavily raked windscreens.
The Daytona has been immortalised in many forms. In 1971 Dan Gurney and Brock Yates drove one to victory in the inaugural Cannonball run - averaging 80.1mph for the 2,876 miles from New York to Los Angeles. Over the years, class wins were accrued by privateers in both the Le Mans and Daytona 24 hour races. One starred in the 1990 film, The Rookie; there was a track entitled Daytona on Chris Rea's hit album The Road To Hell; and what appeared to be a black Daytona featured in the early episodes of the popular TV series Miami Vice - however, the car was in fact a replica based on a Corvette chassis! In 2004, Sports Car International magazine voted the Daytona its top car of the 1970s. The model was succeeded by the mid-engined Berlinetta Boxer - a very different automobile altogether.
The righthand drive Daytona offered is surely one of the most original examples in existence. It has effectively had just two owners from new, during which time it has covered a mere 65,860 miles. The history of this lovely, matching numbers 'prancing horse' is exceedingly well documented in its accompanying history file, which any prospective purchaser would be well advised to study.
The story starts on December 18, 1968 when renowned Ferrari collector Colonel Bob Roberts wrote to his friend Colonel Ronnie Hoare of Maranello Concessionaires confirming his intention to buy a Daytona. It is in this interesting letter that he first raises concern that the standard seats might be too narrow for him, and so began a chain of fascinating correspondence that ran upto and beyond the Ferrari's eventual delivery in July 1970. The paperwork reveals that, following the negotiation of a £482 15s and 10d discount, Roberts paid £8,835 for his new charge, including a UK-fitted Motorola sound system.
History also relates that the Colonel, who was known to be fastidious about his cars, was not immediately enamoured of his purchase. Apparently, in addition to a few minor blemishes and faults, he found the carpets to be the wrong blue. On the subject of the aforementioned seats he commented, "..although they look frightfully 1970 and with-it are quite the worst I have ever sat in. The frame on which they are built plus the roll or piping around the leather at the edge cuts right into my legs (I wear a lightweight suit during the whole of the summer) and the seat is far too narrow." Evidently Ferrari treated the complaint suitably seriously and later documentation confirms the problem to have been resolved to the Colonel's complete satisfaction during a visit to the factory.
In 1972 Colonel Roberts apparently purchased a racing Daytona on which the full depth of the headlights was visible and decided to have his road-going Daytona modified to the same spec - this task and the related alteration of the centre panel behind the nose badge was carried out by Maranello Concessionaries.
Daytona engines need to be overhauled around the 60,000 mile mark and in 1987 (when the car had covered 57,000 miles) Roberts treated the unit powering chassis 13479 to an astonishingly thorough rebuild, courtesy of Norman Seeney of Ashwood Banks, Worcestershire; every nut and bolt of which is fully chronicled in the history file. Though it is now 23 years since this work took place, it is well worth noting that the car has only covered around 8,000 miles since.
The current owner acquired the Daytona in 2003. Like Colonel Roberts, he has enjoyed a long association with the Ferrari marque and is equally fussy about the provenance and condition of his cars - the purchase ended a long search for the 'right' example. It is no secret that Daytonas are prone to rust, but the fact that this car has almost entirely escaped the problem doubtless owes much to it being injected with rust preventative when new. Indeed, a thorough check by The Carrosserie Company (UK) Ltd of Barnard Castle, Yorkshire in 2006 found the car to be corrosion free save for a few tiny pin holes in the sills. Though the offending items could easily have been repaired, they were replaced in the interest of perfection - the vendor has retained the original items as part of the car's history.
This exquisite car should satisfy even the most pernickety of collectors. The vendor is adamant it would be hard find one in more original condition and insists it currently requires no attention whatsoever. In addition to the history file, the car comes complete with original books and leather tool roll. In short, it is an extremely fine example of this much-vaunted and increasingly valuable model.
Image and description kindly supplied by H&H Classic Auctions