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Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytona buyers guide

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The Daytona is the daddy of the front-engined Ferrari GTs, and it's as desirable now as it ever was…

So exactly how is a car that costs three times as much as a decent Testarossa still a good buy? Well, when it comes to classic V12 Ferrari GTs, it’s getting hard to find any for less. To be honest, a better question would be how come the Daytona is so inexpensive; it is, after all, the fastest and most powerful of the traditional front-engined Ferrari coupés, and the company’s last such design before the Commendatore died. And in the ’80s, those very factors drove the prices to staggering levels as speculators beat each other with sticks for the opportunity to invest in them. After the sharks moved on, prices took a tumble, and then more or less went stagnant; there are, in the end, a helluva lot more Daytonas than 330 Spyders or 250 Lussos.

That analysis may have changed, however, even in the interval before you read this: Daytonas have enjoyed a slow rebound over the last few years and enough market experts consider the car undervalued to place it at the top of our ‘Cars to Watch’ list for 2006. Bob Houghton sales manager Simon Jordan says good ones are currently at $155,000 or slightly above, and an additional 10 percent increase this year would not be at all out of order. If you can see a 365GTB/4 in your future (in reality, the nickname Daytona was a motoring journo thing), it might be wise not to dither.

Just don’t count on buying this one; it’s the property of long-time Houghton customer Dick Young, and it’s not for sale. It’s interesting to note that Dick has owned lots of Ferraris over the years, and while he presently also has a 550 Maranello, it’s the Daytona he takes along to track days. He’s been doing it since he bought the car in 1999; the car remains bog-standard and has suffered no mechanical breakdowns at all.

Now, to be fair, there’s something I should probably mention: I think the Daytona is the most beautiful mechanical object ever created. It’s classic Pininfarina, of course, and every tiny detail is perfect, down to the sweep of rear wing around the tail lamps, the alloy-spoked steering wheel, and the heartbreaking curl of the delicate door handles. Do not even think about reverse parking the thing, however, because not a single one of those artistically sculpted corners is visible from the driver’s seat. Not that you’d be tempted; the low-speed steering really is as stiff as you’ve heard, and although it does lighten up appreciably once in motion, all of the Daytona’s controls are high-effort by modern standards. No surprise, they were by ’70s standards too, if memory serves: they are, on the other hand, fabulously precise, and at the speeds the car was designed for, that’s what matters.

On paper against the two newer cars the Daytona doesn’t look quite as fast as it used to; on the road in the real world it’s a different matter. The six big Webers don’t flow very well at low revs, and off the line the car is a bit flat, but keep up the revs and it’s a monster. To be honest, though, I didn’t expect the handling to be so impressive anymore, but there must be some magic in tall tyres and chassis compliance: on surfaces where the others felt slightly jiggly at speed, the old Daytona was poised, relaxed... and faster than dammit.

In fact, I have to admit I cheated just a touch with the Daytona: after the photos were all done, the notes taken and the day was officially over, I ducked out for one last drive down our quiet side road. I ran it up the gears and gave it its head, letting it wind on through the long, fast corners, listening to the sweet V12 howl and drinking in the moment. Those who would not call this car a bargain, as the saying goes, know the price of everything... and the value of nothing.

Specifications


365GTB/4 Daytona (1968-1973)

Engine

4390cc all-alloy 60-degree V12, dohc, two valves per cylinder, 6x40mm Weber DCN carburettors
Power
352bhp @ 7500rpm
Torque
318lb ft @ 5500rpm
Transmission
Five-speed manual,
rear-wheel drive
Suspension
Coil and wishbone, telescopic shocks, front anti-roll bar
Brakes 
Four-wheel vented discs, servo assisted
Weight
1600kg (3520lb)
Performance 
0-60mph 5.8sec
Top speed 175mph
Value 
Value: $130,000-170,000

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