RM Auctions Ferrari Daytona Condo-Find Ready to Disco
Photography courtesy of RM Auctions
Barn finds are the ultimate in automotive mythology. It is the equivalent of sitting in a tavern sometime in the seventeenth century and being handed a map by a rushed, shadowy figure. Should you spend days and weeks and months chasing buried treasure?
We’ve all heard stories of barn finds: Bugattis sunken in lakes to avoid taxes, neglected racecars in sheds around the world. Yet it’s hard to believe that anyone would forget about their Daytona in the garage. But that was exactly the case with this 1971 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Berlinetta, chassis number 14385.
It’s called the “condo-find Daytona” or “disco Daytona,” because of the K-Tel 8-track tape left in the player. For the last 25 years it has been hidden in plain sight, tucked away in the corner of a parking garage in downtown Toronto, up on blocks, hiding under a cover.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Disco Daytona is that it is still owned by the original buyer! So it was never lost per se–just forgotten! It is offered through RM Auctions (at their Amelia Island sale in March) directly by its first and only owner, Patrick Sinn of Toronto, and as is often the case with someone who has owned a car since new (for 44 years!), he tells the incredible story best.
The year was 1971. I had just finished skiing in Chamonix, France, and I went to Geneva to catch a flight home. I was waiting in the airport for the flight to take off, and it was delayed, so I had the whole day to stand in the airport doing nothing. I heard about this Geneva International Motor Show, so I thought, “Why don’t I just go there and check out the new models?”
When I arrived, Ferrari had a display of two Daytonas and a 246 Dino. That was the first time I’d seen the Daytona, and I fell in love with it. I sat in the car, and walked around it a million times, and said to myself, “I want to buy one.” So I talked to the salesman at the motor show and asked him, “How can I buy the Daytona?” He said, “Well, you can go to any Ferrari dealership and place an order.” I said, “Well, since I’m in Europe, I’m not going to wait. I’m going to the factory and just order a car; that’s the quickest way, and that way I can pick the color, options, and what have you.”
So, instead of flying home from Geneva to Toronto, I canceled my flight and bought a ticket to Milan. When I got off at the Milan airport, I rented a car and drove the rental car all the way to Modena. I went into the office and told the gentleman inside that I wanted to buy a Daytona.
He introduced me to a Mr. Boni, who was the sales manager, and he showed me the list price, options, choice of color, and upholstery. I signed a contract with them to buy a Daytona, and picked Bordeaux Red with a metallic base, because I liked that color, and also picked the two-color upholstery that I like. They told me I had to come back in the summer when the car was ready, because I told them, “I want to come here, take the car out of the factory, and drive it in Europe for a while before shipping it back.” They replied, “Fine, we will fit you with an EE license plate so you can drive it anywhere in Europe.”
Approximately $18,000 U.S. later, plus a little bit more money for spare parts because I wanted some spares for tune-ups and brake work, I left Ferrari with an order.
In July of 1971, they told me that the car was ready, so I flew over to Milan and got down to the factory and took possession of the new Daytona.
When I first drove from the factory to Geneva–almost all the way on the autostrada–I stayed in the InterContinental Hotel in Geneva. While relaxing by the poolside, I was showered with admiration from strangers from all over Europe, wanting to talk with me about the shiny Daytona. It appeared to me that Europeans, in general, knew more about Ferraris than North Americans. I quickly made new friends around the pool. They liked riding in my car, and in return, they showed me around town, took me to restaurants and discos, and we all had a good time enjoying our new friendship. After that, I drove on the autobahn, to Zurich, and received a wonderful reception at the Dolder Grand Hotel.
After Europe, and about a month’s driving, I left the car at the factory for them to perform the first oil change and check out the engine before they shipped it over to North America. I drove it to Marseilles, where I was catching the QE 2, sailing from Marseilles to New York. They let me put the car on the ship and store it below-deck so that when I got off in New York, I could drive the car home to Toronto. Every couple of days, I would go below-deck and look at the Ferrari, to make sure there was no seawater damage!
Of course, at the border, they told me I could not import this car into Canada, because it did not meet all the safety and pollution requirements for an import. But they let me go anyways; I had to put up some kind of bond to clear customs, and tried to convince them it was a one-off and not really causing any environmental damage. So after haggling with them for a while, they just gave up. I guess in those days, there weren’t too many European imports, and certainly not enough for them to worry about.
In 1989, my dad passed away, and I had to rush back to Hong Kong to take over his shipping business with my two brothers. Because I had to leave in a hurry, I just put the car up on blocks, covered it, and left, thinking, “I’ll be back in a few months.” But things didn’t work out, because after the funeral, there were lots of estate matters to be resolved, so I ended up staying in Hong Kong for the next six years. I finally got back to Toronto, where I was very involved in real estate and very busy. As I already had a Mercedes-Benz 280 SL and a Ford to drive, I didn’t need to drive the Ferrari.
I have never been to a car auction in my life, but looking at the car sitting in my garage, where they wash down the floors four times a year, I noticed that the car was beginning to lose its shine. I had two choices: I could spend big money to restore it, or I could sell my beloved toy and let someone new enjoy it. I opted for the latter, realizing, at 77 years old, that I would not be enjoying the car as much as I used to, because I had other priorities in life. So why not let another Ferrari aficionado enjoy it?
I found out online that RM is the biggest auction house worldwide for antique Ferraris, followed their auctions closely for a time, and said, “Well, let me give them a call, and see what happens…”
The car has been returned to running condition, but will require additional mechanical reconditioning before extensive road use. Please contact an RM Auctions specialist for further information. Here’s the Ferrari Daytona, in greater detail.