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Daytona uncovered - Ferrari 365GTB/4

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Why does the 365GTB/4 have such a hold over enthusiasts, and why is it still the market barometer?

It is probably true to say that the Ferrari 365GTB/4 has been a bellwether of classic car prices for the last couple of decades. When the collector market rose to dizzying heights in the late ’80s, the 365GTB/4 was at the front of the grid.

It is often remembered as the million-buck Ferrari that fell ignominiously to 50,000 bucks virtually overnight. In Britain, prices peaked at $550,000 in 1990 – a lot of money 18 years ago. Paul Osborn of Cars International Kensington says: ‘When I was working at Chequered Flag in West Hollywood in 1989, I sold a bronze 5000-miler to the owner of Popeye Fried Chicken for millions.

It was a perfect car, even if the color was a bit of a challenge, and that was a fortune in those days. In America the Spider always commanded more money, whereas in Europe they were seen as hairdressers’ cars, although that perception has now largely changed. But only 121 Spiders were manufactured, so they are rare and collectable and now command over million. For some years the Americans did not fancy the early Plexiglas model (the frontal light treatment), as they were never officially imported into the US. But that’s exactly what the Japanese buyers want.’

When the crash came, the 365GTB/4 certainly dropped in value and remained at around £50,000 to £80,000 for years thereafter. ‘But in the last 12 months or so the Ferrari has pretty much doubled in value and has performed better than any other ’70s Ferrari by far,’ adds Osborn.

Within a very short space of time the values of decent 365GTB/4s have risen from about $112K to $223K. Graeme Hunt of Bramley of Kensington explains: ‘In November last year we sold a mint, silver 365GTB/4 for $275,000, which was the top price at that point. But when these cars were selling for
$550,000 in 1990, think what a decent flat in London or apartment in New York cost.

Those properties have more than doubled in value whereas cars like these Ferraris still have only half the value they had 19 years ago.’ Does make you think.

Not that we should be banging on about value and cost above all else, but these big V12 Ferraris were very much at the forefront of the boom and bust of the past. Dealer Martin Chisholm says: ‘I did some research for a customer which showed that Ferrari 365GTB/4 prices peaked at
$550,000in 1990, Aston Martin DB5s hit $140,000 and Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwings topped out at $209,000. Today the Aston is around $275,000, the Gullwing is north of $420,00,000 but a good Ferrari can be had for $209,000 to $23,000.

‘I personally own a Ferrari Daytona because it epitomises the early ’70s,’ says Chisholm. ‘While the Ferraris of the ’50s and ’60s are curvy and beautiful, the Daytona is mean and it looks the business. It is the car I have always wanted and I enjoy driving it immensely. With its fat back end planted under power, that long bonnet and great revvy engine, the Daytona is a proper man’s car.’

Those of you who have been paying attention will have noticed the word ‘Daytona’ popping up in the last paragraph. Launched at the Paris Salon in 1968, this Ferrari was officially a 365GTB/4. In 1967 Ferrari’s 330 P4 racing cars finished first and second, with a privateer 412P third, on American soil, finally breaking the Ford GT40’s dominance. The word Daytona became Ferrari’s internal designation for the 356GTB/4 during development but apparently was leaked by the press, incensing Enzo Ferrari, so it was never an official moniker. Today, however, this Ferrari is universally known as the Daytona.

When launched in Paris the Daytona was not met with rapture because it was rather conservative both in terms of looks and engineering. Lamborghini had stolen Ferrari’s thunder with its rock star-esque Miura, featuring a mid-mounted V12, which did make the 365 Grand Touring Berlinetta four-cam look a bit straight-laced. Of course, we now know that a proper Ferrari has to have a lusty great V12 mounted up front, and the current awesome 599 has exactly that.

Look at George Bamford’s exquisite photographs and you will have to agree that Pininfarina’s design is superb. The design drawings were completed on December 10, 1966, and the first prototype was finished in 1967, the bodywork being done by Scaglietti, effectively Ferrari’s in-house bodyshop. Amazingly, even in the late ’60s the Daytona was largely handmade and there were never any press tools. Rather, sections of metal were shaped over a wooden buck and then welded together on a jig. The upshot is that no two Daytonas are the same and that’s why, when you speak to seasoned Daytona drivers, they all say that each car feels very different. Most are good while others are less so.

As well as its striking bodywork, the Daytona features that superb 4.4-litre V12, which pumps out 352bhp at a heady 7500rpm. As with the preceding 275GTB/4, the Daytona’s transmission is situated at the rear. This transaxle is linked to the clutch and engine via a torque tube, all in an effort to spread the car’s considerable weight of 1550kg throughout the chassis. Interestingly, the Daytona was the first Ferrari to feature glassfibre inner body sections, which include the front and rear bulkheads plus the floors and transmission tunnel.

In total 1400 Daytonas were manufactured, 121 of which were Spiders as we said. Only 158 were right-hand drive, including seven Spiders. When new, many Daytonas were painted dark brown and other strange colours. ‘You know when a car is on the up,’ says Paul Osborn, ‘when they all suddenly start to appear in “retail red” with biscuit hide interiors! Many Daytonas are on their second restorations and the good ones are probably better than when they came out of the factory.’

Generally Daytonas are tough old things, with no real mechanical vices. Ferrari expert David Cottingham of DK Engineering warns of rust and accident damage. The gearboxes can wear and weak synchros are common. A full engine rebuild will set you back $35,000 and a transaxle is $7000. A Luppi interior will be about the same.

Terry Hoyle of TDH Classics is a Daytona fan. ‘They are iconic cars with superb, powerful engines. Ferrari claimed 352bhp for the road engines, and every time we rebuild one the power sheets show exactly 352bhp. We generally don’t modify them because Ferrari did such a good job to begin with. Ferrari is not where it is today because it did its engineering on the back of a cigarette packet. These cars are beautifully executed.‘Sometimes the limited-slip diff can be felt thunking when you turn the car in tightly.

People get worried and think there’s something wrong but it is just the LSD doing its job. It’s a good idea to allow the gearbox to warm up – just miss out second gear for the first five miles. And give the car ten miles or so to let the dampers and bushes start working properly. Rust? Not as bad as Dinos, but the intricate exhausts can rot through lack of use. Some owners have complained that the cars are heavy at parking speed, especially when the wider seven- and nine-inch rims are fitted. But we have a power steering kit which makes a big difference – and no, I’m not going to tell you how we do it!’

Beautiful as the Ferrari Daytona is, its whole raison d’Ϊtre is driving. Fast. The car might have looked a little conservative when launched, although the early ones did have that clever Plexiglas front end treatment (replaced for 1970 with pop-up lights), but it would do 174mph flat-out and the 0-60mph dash in about 5.5 seconds. Fast today, sensational in 1968. And driving a Daytona is always an experience.

Detractors say that it is big and heavy. Well, it is. If you want a nimble little sports car a Dino might suit better. The Daytona is a grand tourer designed to cover huge mileage at great speed. The steering is heavy when parking and a bit woolly around the straight-ahead position. Yes, the clutch is he-man and the gearshift needs a firm hand, but get the 4.4-liter engine on the cam at four thou’ and hold on: the Daytona gets serious and simply takes off. Handling is pretty neutral and the brakes take punishment when trying to haul it all back down again. But when the free-revving V12 goes for 7000 you know you are in a special car.

Because of their great strength and speed, the Daytonas proved to be excellent long-distance racers at Le Mans. In 1971 ‘Coco’ Chinetti, son of American Ferrari importer Luigi, drove a NART Daytona to a class win in the Index of Thermal Efficiency. In 1972 Daytonas took the top five places in the GT category, with the winning car timed at 183mph down the Mulsanne Straight, and in 1973 the British-entered, JCB-sponsored Daytona, driven by Neil Corner and Willie Green, retired at the 18th hour.

SPECIFICATIONS
Ferrari 365GTB/4

Engine
4390cc dohc all-alloy V12, dual ignition, six Weber 40 carburetors

Power
352bhp @ 7200rpm

Torque
318lb ft @ 5500rpm

Transmission
Five-speed manual, rear mounted in transaxle

Suspension
Front: independent via wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar.
Rear: independent via wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers

Brakes
Discs all round

Weight
1600kg (3527lb)

Performance
0-60mph 5.4sec
Top speed 174mph

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