Want, Buy and Drive the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona
“Dinosaur!” That is what the critics cried in disbelief that the new Ferrari 365 GTB/4 had a front-mounted engine when it was launched at the Paris Motor Show in 1968. With the launch of the Lamborghini Miura, many thought Ferrari would follow suit and replace the 275 GTB/4 with a mid-engine supercar, but instead the car resolutely stuck to the same format Ferrari had used for all its road cars since the companies first the 125 in 1947. It had been expected that the new car would be named Daytona after Ferrari’s 1-2-3 sweep of the 1967 Daytona 24 hour race, and although never adopted officially it is a name that has forever been associated with the car and today is even referenced on Ferrari’s own website.
The Daytona went on sale in early 1969. With it’s 352 bhp Tipo 251 D.O.H.C. V12 engine the Daytona quickly established itself as the fastest road car you could buy with an independently verified 174mph top speed and 0-60mph in around 5.6 seconds. The flowing Pininfarina body (penned by Pininfarina’s lead designer Leonardo Fioravanti) ensured the car was also very stable at high speed. Handling was excellent thanks to the use of a 5 speed gearbox mounted on a transaxle resulting in fairly even weight distribution. Early critics however noted the car had very heavy steering at low speed that maybe due to Ferrari’s inexperience with the steering geometry needed for the new Michelin XWX radial tyres.
The Daytona follows Ferrari’s traditional production methods of a steel body over a tubular steel chassis. The bonnet, boot-lid and doors (on early cars) were aluminium. Perhaps surprisingly the inner tub and floors are made from glass fibre on the Berlinettas, although this reverts to steel on the Spyders. Scaglietti built all Daytona bodies, except for the prototypes. The wheelbase is the same 2.4m used on the earlier 275 and the iconic 250 SWB and 250 GTO, although for this application the track was widened slightly.
Early cars sported fixed headlamps covered under a plexiglass panel that stretched across the width of the car. This did not comply with US regulations and when the car finally went on sale in the US in 1971 the lights were changed to pop up units which were standardized for all markets shortly after. At the same time a Spyder version of the car went on sale (which had been shown in prototype form at the Frankfurt motor show of 1969).
In the marketplace the Daytona’s chief rivals, in addition to the Miura, were the Maserati Ghibli, Iso Grifo and Aston Martin DBS. It was expected that the Daytona would only be on the market for a short time until Ferrari’s own mid-engine car would be launched but the Daytona was a sales success and stayed in production though to the end of 1973 when it was replaced by the 365GT4 Berlinetta Boxer. By the time production had ended 1284 Berlinettas and 122 Spyders were built.
The Daytona Today
The Daytona has long been considered an icon of the classic car world but in the current market values have lagged behind many of the other classic sixties Ferraris, possibly due to those higher production numbers than its predecessors. This means that, at present, it is the cheapest entry point into sixties V12 Ferrari two seat Berlinetta ownership. Cheap is a relative term though as a perfect example with low mileage will still set you back around $500,000 while a car needing restoration can be around $300,000. There does not seem to be a lot of difference between euro and US pop up light versions although the early Plexiglas examples will sell for a slight premium in certain markets (Japan especially).
The rare and iconic Spyder version is in a different market all together and you will need at the very minimum $900,000 to put one in your garage today. During the late seventies and early eighties it was popular to convert Berlinettas into Spyders with an estimated 100 cars being opened up. Today the value of these varies depending on the quality of the conversion but the very best examples are worth only slightly more than the Berlinetta.
The most obvious tip about buying a Daytona is to seek specialist advice. Whilst the Daytona is not a particularly complex car compared with a modern Ferrari they are expensive to run with a full engine rebuild costing up to $50,000. A thorough pre purchase inspection by an expert is a must.
Having said that there are a few do’s and don’ts to note before even commissioning a specialist.
- Do expect the car to have been restored at least once. Ferrari (in common with all Fiat group companies of the era) used cheap steel sourced from Russia and as a result they are very prone to rust (notably around the rear wheel arches).
- Don’t pay a premium because the dealer says it’s a rare Tipo A version. All this means it is a Euro version with pop up headlights and not some rare special edition with a more powerful engine as sometimes suggested.
- Do be prepared to travel to find the right car. The market for Daytona’s is global and many Daytonas have been exported from the country they were first sold in.
- Do ensure you know that the car you are buying is a European or US spec car. A US car will be distinguished by side marker lights and has a number of modifications to comply with US Smog regulations. Some US cars have had the side markers and Smog equipment removed.
- Do ensure the car comes with its original tool kit. These can be worth up to $10,000 alone and will be essential if you want to score well in a concours.
- Don’t have a short test drive in one. The Daytona takes a long time to warm up and if you drive one for ten minutes from cold chances are you won’t like it very much.
- Do ignore the dealer comment ‘believed converted by Scaglietti themselves’ when looking at Spyder conversions. There is no evidence that Scaglietti built any Daytona Spyders other than the factory cars, although Sport Auto in Modena (a.k.a. Bachelli and Villa) did use N.O.S. factory parts from Scaglietti on their conversions.
Upgrades and Modifications
- Unless you are a stickler for originality or want to obtain Ferrari’s Classiche certificate of authenticity there are a number of upgrades that can enhance the Daytona driving experience.
- Power steering; Fitting EZ’s electric system will reduce the heft at low speed but retain the natural feel at higher speeds. It is a reversible modification too.
- Wider rear rims; Many Daytonas have been fitted with the wider Cromodora 9X15” rear rims and wider tyres from the later Ferrari 512BB. They fill out the arches and give better grip and traction than standard.
- Upgrade the AC; A big glasshouse and powerful V12 mean it can get pretty hot inside the cockpit and the Ferrari fitted AC (actually an option but most came with it) isn’t really up to the task. If you live somewhere hot you should upgrade. I’ve heard it suggested that the AC compressor from a nineties Mercedes E class will fit as a direct replacement but have yet to try this myself.
- Fit EBC Yellow Stuff brake pads; The Daytonas brakes are fine under normal conditions but will fade badly under hard or track use. EBC offer replacement pads with upgraded material.
Driving A Daytona
There is no denying the driving experience is dominated by the masterpiece of an engine. There is an ample supply of torque at low speeds makes ensuring that it copes with traffic and when the roads open up the 4 cams allow the V12 to howl all the way up to the 7500rpm redline. Despite the newest Daytonas being forty years old the performance is still comparable to many a modern sportscar, and it can even match a Porsche 911GT3 in some of the in gear acceleration increments.
The gearbox is very precise but unhurried and second needs to be avoided when cold. The handling is neutral and for the most part friendly although care needs to be taken in wet and greasy conditions as the combination of power and fairly skinny tyres means the rear can break away suddenly.
The driving position is fairly unusual with a high mounted steering wheel but once you have adapted to it, is excellent and very comfortable with supportive bucket seats. Visibility is also excellent although the long front means care needs to be taken when parking.
The surprisingly spacious cabin also means there is plenty of space for luggage in addition to the usable boot, making the Daytona a great Grand Tourer although you do pay a price at the petrol pumps with at best 11 (US) MPG. It is however fitted with a large 33.5 US gallon fuel tank allowing for a reasonable touring range.
The standard heavy steering means the car is not at it’s best on tight and twisty back roads, but find a fast flowing open road where you can push the throttle open a bit wider and let the six Weber carburettors suck in petrol to that mighty V12 and the car is glorious, intoxicating experience that you want to experience again and again.