front of ferrari daytona

Ferrari Daytona – Last of the Front Engine V12

Ferrari Daytona, officially called the Ferrari 365 GTB4 Berlinetta, is known as the quintessential front-engine classic grand touring car.

It was one of the last V12 front-engined Ferrari war horses. The classically shaped and ridiculously fast Daytona was a supercar with a split personality. The two sides of the Ferrari Daytona met at the 120mph mark. Under 120 mph the Daytona was deemed heavy with inert controls and a crashing suspension. Once you broke the 120 mph mark, the Daytona started sparkling. This was a car meant to be driven fast and hard.

1971 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Coupe, Body by Scaglietti
1971 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Coupe, Body by Scaglietti

Ferrari Daytona BackThe name Daytona was given to the Ferrari 365 GTB4 by the media in honor of Ferraris 1-2-3 win at the 1967 24-hour race in Daytona. The name stuck and even though the official name remains the 365 GTB4, Ferrari acknowledged and used the Daytona name as well.

History of the Ferrari Daytona

In the 1960s Ferrari had the habit of presenting new models at the Paris Auto Salon. The Daytona was no exception. The 365 GTB4 which quickly got the name Ferrari Daytona was revealed at the Paris Salon in 1968.

The Daytona was the last V12 Ferrari model announced before Fiat took control of road car production by acquiring a 40% stake in Ferrari. After the death of Enzo Ferrari, Fiat also acquired his 49% share of the capital. Until the arrival of the Testarossa in 1984, the Daytona was also the last V12 Ferrari sold in the USA.

The V12 was expensive to manufacture for a small company like Ferrari and with the environmental legislation in the USA becoming more and more strict, the times of V12 engines were seemingly coming to an end.

The USA was always a big target market for the Daytona and a key to its financial success. The prototype models of the Daytona had the front design based on the predecessor, the 275 GTB4. The lines of the 275 GTB4 were softer, the headlights were round and typical for that era.

The production model of Daytona, however, ditched the soft lines of the predecessor. The lines became sharper and the whole design became more experimental. It featured a full-width plexiglass strip on the nose of the car. On each side of the plexiglass strip, was a twin headlight assembly that ran into the side of the car where the turn signals were located.

In 1971 the plexiglass strip design was changed and the Daytona got the infamous pair of retractable headlights. This was done due to changes in US legislation. The renewed legislation did not allow for headlights behind covers. After trying to fix the problem with certain alternatives of fixed open headlights, Ferrari ultimately decided for the retractable headlights which did not disturb the design of the Daytona.

The demands of the US market shaped the final look of the 365 GTB4 Daytona which is one of the reasons why the Daytona is often referred to as the “American” Ferrari.

Design and Styling of the Daytona

Ferrari Daytona, just like the 275 GTB4 before it, was a Pininfarina design. The Daytona was styled by Leonardo Fioravanti who was responsible for many Ferrari designs before the Daytona.

Ferrari Daytona Yellow
1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Coupe, Body by Scaglietti; S/N 16109
1971 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Coupe, Body by Scaglietti
1971 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Coupe, Body by Scaglietti

As mentioned, The Daytona truly was a breath of fresh air in terms of the design. The shape of the car became much more aggressive and sharp. The bonnet of the car became longer and wider with the nose sweep looking like a shark. There are also two big air exhausts on the bonnet running into the laid back cabin section.

The rear end features a pair of twin circular taillights mounted above each quarter bumper. Below the bumpers was a set of double exhaust pipes that didn’t only look aggressive but also sounded that way. The standard road version wheels were the five-spoke “star” pattern alloys with a knock-off spinner on a Rudge hub. Ferrari also offered Borrani wire wheels throughout the entire production period.

1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Coupe, Body by Scaglietti; S/N 16701
1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Coupe, Body by Scaglietti; S/N 16701

The cabin was a five-window design with a large slightly curved windshield. The rear window was almost completely flat. The cabin also features one of Ferrari’s most gorgeous interior designs. The leather slimline seats, the wooden steering wheel, and the simplistic dashboard and instrument cluster are a clear representation of the 1960s design. The speedometer and other instruments were round, black, and placed on a bright backboard. This completed the charming look of the cabin which is to this day considered as one of the best.

The body of the Daytona featured an almost circular indent line that reached from each of the front wheel arches and around the back. This design feature would also appear in later Ferrari models. The design of the Ferrari Daytona set the guidelines for future Ferraris which makes it even more influential today.

The 365 GTS4 “ Ferrari Daytona Spider”

The reason why we are pointing out the Daytona Spider or as it was officially called the Ferrari 365 GTS4 Spider, is because of its immense popularity.

The Daytona spider was announced a year after the Daytona Berlinetta. They revealed it at the 1969 Frankfurt Auto Show and it was an immediate success. The Spider looked identical to the Berlinetta with the exception of the folding roof and the modified boot profile.

Ferrari Daytona Spyder
Ferrari Daytona Spyder/ Source: Fantasy Junction

The Daytona Spider was particularly popular in the American market. Only 122 Daytona spiders were produced which led people to cut off roofs from the Berlinetta version of the Daytona in order to get the look and feel of the Spider. Compared to 1284 Daytona Berlinettas the Spider was really rare. The Daytona spider was also featured in the 1976 cult movie “The Gumball Rally”. The Spider used in the movie was sold in 2013 to an unknown buyer for $1.65 million US dollars by RM Sothebys. 

interior of daytona spyder

There was also a “speciale” coupe version of the Daytona which was revealed at the 1969 Paris Salon. The coupe speciale was shown by Pininfarina and featured a stainless steel roll hoop and a zip-out rear window. The coupe never saw the light of production and remained a one-off “speciale”.

Engine, transmission and performance of the Ferrari 365 GTB4

Hidden under the hood of Ferrari Daytona was a modified 275 GTB4 V12. It had increased capacity and longer block derivation of the twin overhead camshaft per bank V12 unit. The V12 inside the Daytona was known as the “Tipo 251”. It was a

DOHC 2 valve per cylinder with a 4.4 L total capacity. It featured the 6X2 Weber 40 DCN 20 carburetors or a 40 mm Solex twin carburetors as an alternative. The five-speed manual transmission was mounted in the rear for optimal weight distribution. The Daytona also featured a four-wheel independent suspension with wishbones, coil springs, and hydraulic shock absorbers. This made the Daytona technically advanced and ensured it handled the power smoothly through the corners and over bumps.

The “Tipo 251” V12 in the Daytona produced 352 horsepowers with 431 Nm (318 lb-ft) of torque at 5500 rpm. The top speed of the Daytona was 174 mph (280 kph). The 0-60 mph acceleration took only 5.4 seconds which is incredible for a grand touring car. The USA market Daytonas had a reduced engine compression. They were also fitted with a fast idle device, large central exhaust silencer, and an exhaust manifold air injection system to comply with the US road and emissions regulations.

The performance of the Daytona was completely in line with its breathtaking looks. The top speed was slightly higher than Lamborghini Miura’s which at the time, made the Daytona the fastest production vehicle on the market.

Ferrari 365 GTB 4 Daytona Competizone

The Ferrari 365 GTB 4 “Daytona” was neither intended nor designed for competition use, but like all Ferraris it had the basic attributes: a powerful and reliable engine, competent chassis with predictable handling and refined aerodynamics. Its speed, power and aerodynamics commended it to the great endurance races of its day, like Le Mans, Sebring and Daytona.

NART ferrari daytona
NART Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona (s/n 12467) at Le Mans in 1971

Luigi Chinetti was the first to prove the Daytona’s competition potential with an alloy-bodied example and later chassis no. 12467, which finished fifth overall at Le Mans in 1971. Witnessing the promise of these early attempts, and perhaps feeling the pressure of the increasing costs of prototype competition, Ferrari ultimately chose to begin development on the first series of factory competition Daytonas. Development began in the Assistenza Clienti division in summer 1971 and, ultimately, Ferrari produced three different series with five cars each.

Series III cars, in particular, are similar in appearance to their immediate predecessors, but subtle yet very important modifications are visible on this last and most evolved series of Daytona Competition cars. Fuel filler caps were located on both rear wings for ease of re-fueling during long distance races – the Daytona’s specialty. Windows were made of glass, like the previous series, and the cars received a deeper and narrower chin spoiler and steel bodies with aluminum bonnets and boot lids – again, to reduce weight.

In addition to suspension and brake modifications, various engine developments included different pistons, connecting rods, higher lift camshafts, larger carburetor jets and a larger cold air box, all of which amounted to greater output. All told, the Series III cars were the most evolved and powerful of all competition Daytonas although, as with most things Ferrari and racing-related, continual evolution and development make it nearly impossible to characterize each series definitively and without exception.

1971 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione
1971 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione/ Source: RM Sotheby’s

Despite the numerous upgrades conducted privately on Daytonas, only the 15 cars factory-prepared in Maranello between 1971 and 1973 are rightly regarded as the genuine 365 GTB 4 Competizione cars. They proved tremendously successful on the racetrack, securing class victories at Le Mans in 1972, 1973 and 1974. Incidentally, in 1972 the 365 GTB 4 Competiziones occupied the top five spots of the GT category at Le Mans before going on to secure both first and second places in the Tour de France the same year. At the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1979, a 365 GTB 4 Competizione finished second overall in a car that was six years old!

The Ferrari 365 GTB 4 Competizione presented here, chassis no. 16363, was the second of the Series III factory competition Daytonas built, completed on March 1, 1973. A left-hand drive car, it was bought new by French Ferrari importer Charles Pozzi SA in Paris-Levallois Perret, France. Originally finished in Rosso Chiaro, it was immediately given the red and white livery of its sponsor, the Thomson electrical appliance company, by Carrosserie G. Rivillon in Paris. It was also fitted with a small front spoiler below the grille, which was intended to allow for even higher speeds on the Mulsanne straight at Le Mans. A rear diffuser was fitted for the same purpose – a unique feature on this particular car, which makes it instantly recognizable in period photographs at Le Mans in 1973.

1973 ferrari daytona

1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competition Group 4
1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione Group IV

It was raced at the Le Mans test day on March 31st by Jean-Claude Andruet who achieved the 12th fastest time in the car’s first outing. The following day Andruet and Bob Wollek drove the Pozzi-entered Daytona, and not only recorded the quickest lap time of all the Ferrari Daytonas entered, but also drove to a class win and third overall in the Le Mans four-hour race – a fantastic second day of racing for 16363.

Pozzi brought the car back to Le Mans in June for the famed 24-Hour race with drivers Claude Ballot-Léna and Vic Elford. Chassis 16363 was one of nine 365 GTB 4s on the grid with other teams including Ecurie Francorchamps, J-C Bamford Excavators and N.A.R.T. Combined with the nine Porsche 2.8 Carrera RSRs and the three Corvettes on the track, the GT class was sure to be hotly contested. The #6 N.A.R.T. Daytona, driven by Sam Posey and Milt Minter, held the GT lead for quite some time, but the Ballot-Léna/Elford Daytona took the lead over the N.A.R.T entry and crossed the finish line in sixth overall, finishing first in the GT class.

Chassis no. 16363’s racing days were not over after its class win at Le Mans. In 1975 Pozzi SA sold the car to Jean-Claude Bajol from Toulouse, France, a long-standing Ferrari collector. Bajol sold it three years later to Jean-Piere Delaunay, who raced the car in 1982 at the Super Sports Car race at Montlhéry. From Delauney the car went to Mattey and in the late 1990s was sold through Gregor Fisken to Axel Schütte before going to Nicolaus Springer of Gstaad, Switzerland.

While in his ownership, 16363 was maintained in 1999 by David Cottingham’s DK Engineering, renowned for their race preparation and restoration of Ferraris. That same year Springer entered the historic Tour Auto in France in the Thomson-liveried Daytona and was cheered on by the French crowds.

The current fastidious owner, an experienced and very successful historic racing driver, acquired the car in 2000 and immediately entered several events, including the Shell Ferrari Maserati Historic Challenge, the Targa Florio and the Tour Auto. After many successful finishes, he elected to bring the car to Roelofs Engineering in Holland for a full suspension set-up and total rebuild of the engine and gearbox. Since then the car has been used sparingly at events throughout Europe and most recently at the Le Mans Classic retrospective in 2008, where it was the feature car both during the race and the Daytona 40th Anniversary demonstration laps.

Following its historic participation at Le Mans, 16363 was returned to Roelofs Engineering and fully gone over. The gearbox was checked and the engine was rebuilt – the very same engine that pushed the car to its class win at Le Mans in 1975. In fact, 16363 is one of the few competition Daytonas to retain all of its original components, including the gearbox and engine.


1973 Ferrari 365 GTB 4 (Daytona) Competizione GR. IV
1973 Ferrari 365 GTB 4 Daytona Competizione GR. IV, chassis 16363

This 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione Group IV did not sell at a high bid of $2,887,500 at RM Auctions’ Ferrari Leggenda e Passione auction held May 17, 2009 at Ferrari S.p.A. in Maranello, Italy. Its pre-sale estimate was $3,300,000 – $4,000,000.

[Source: RM Auctions]

Show Comments (2)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. I think they misspelled “Daytona” and took it off. The car weighed something like 3,888 pounds and was featured on the cover of Road and Track fleeing across Nevada at 173 M.P.H. I had forgotten how good of a driver Sam Posey was. To win you had to go to alloy. Co Co did but it got trashed.