Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona

That Enzo Ferrari marched to the beat of his own drum can be summed up easily: Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona.

The automotive world in the second half of the 1960s was awash in midengine mania, thanks in great measure to Lamborghini’s 170-mph Miura, introduced in 1966. Conventional wisdom held that Ferrari would respond with a midengine 12-cylinder car.

The 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona.
The 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona commemorated
Ferrari's win at the famed race. See more Ferrari images.

When did Enzo ever hue to conventional wisdom?

The Daytona story begins in 1966, when Pininfarina designer Leonardo Fioravanti laid eyes on a naked 330 GTC chassis. “It struck me as something unique,” he remembered. “I wanted to follow its shape and dimensions, while paying close attention to the aerodynamics.”

Fioravanti put pen to paper and presented his renderings to Sergio Pininfarina, whose entreaties to Ferrari to build a midengine V-12 model had been continuously rebuffed. When Sergio saw Fioravanti’s stunning proposal for a new front-engine design, he accepted it warmly.

“The fundamental objective we set for ourselves was to obtain a thin, svelte car, like a midengine design,” Pininfarina recalled. “The whole idea was really a search for this sense of lightness and rake, a slender look.”

Although “the 275 GTB/4’s successor wasn’t being discussed,” Fioravanti said, Ferrari liked what he saw. So two prototypes were built in late 1967 and early ‘68, mostly using 275 GTB/4 mechanicals.

The cars followed Fioravanti’s general lines. They employed the front of the Ferrari 275 berlinetta and the rear of what would be the Daytona. Pininfarina then altered the nose to get a more modern look and the “lightness and rake” he desired.

The chassis continued Ferrari’s tradition of welded oval-section tubes and a 94.5-inch (2400mm) wheelbase, but with a new, wider track. Suspension was independent, and the disc brakes had improved ventilation to keep them cool under hard use.

The production Daytona’s V-12 displaced 4.4-liters and, like the Ferrari 275 GTB/4, had four overhead cams. It was crowned by six downdraft Weber carburetors. The lubrication system featured a dry-sump oiling system. Quoted horsepower was 352 at a heady 7500 rpm.

The Daytona bowed at the 1968 Paris Auto Show. It formally was the Ferrari 365 GTB/4: 365 being the size of one cylinder in cubic centimeters, 4 referring to the engine’s four cams. But Ferrari also referred to the car as the Daytona, in commemoration of the marque’s 1-2-3 sweep at Florida’s famed 24-hour sports-car race in 1967. The Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona also marked another Maranello milestone: It turned out to be the last model made by Ferrari before Enzo sold his company to Fiat in June 1969.

That Ferrari’s new GT did not have a midengine design was of little consequence once it was driven.

England’s Motor called it “the anti-Miura production car.” Declared Road & Track in its first road test: “It might as well be said right now, the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona is the best sports car in the world. Or the best GT ... ”

The 1969 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona.
The 1969 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona was popular in America.

Autocar came to the same conclusion. “It is hard to capture in mere words all the excitement, sensation and sheer exhilaration of this all-time great among cars. For us it has become an important new yardstick, standing at the pinnacle of the fast car market.”

And indeed it was the pinnacle as the 1970s began. The Miura S Autocar tested had a top speed of 172 mph; the Daytona bettered that by 2 mph. The Ferrari was quicker, too, doing the quarter-mile in 13.8 seconds, the standing kilometer in 24.3. The Lamborghini needed 14.5 and 26.1 seconds, respectively. That level of performance would also propel the Daytona to a long, storied racing career.

Fioravanti said he never envisioned a convertible Daytona when he conceived the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona, but that didn’t stop Sergio Scaglietti. The coachbuilder had made Daytona bodies since the car’s Paris debut, and with Sergio Pininfarina’s approval, created an open-air prototype. The transformation was “an easy one,” in the words of the Modenese magician, and Ferrari was soon assaulted with requests for the Daytona Spyder.

The convertible bowed at the 1969 Frankfurt Auto Show, designated the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona by Ferrari. Production began in mid 1970 and just under 125 were built over three years. Almost 80 percent went to America. The Daytona Spyder proved to be the final hurrah for “old-school” Ferrari, one where Scaglietti could approach Pininfarina, then have Ferrari sign off on production.

The 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona.
After the 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona was produced, Enzo sold Ferrari to Fiat.

Other changes were afoot, as well. Spyder production coincided with tightened American safety and emissions regulations. They proved so costly and complex that Ferrari would not import to the U.S. the 365 GT4/BB, the midengine supercar that in 1974 replaced the Daytona as Ferrari’s flagship.

Learn about these other great Ferrari Road Cars:

166 MM
250 GT SWB
365 CaliforniaTestarossa
212 Inter
400 Superamerica
365 GT 2+2
340 America
250 GTE
365 GTB/4 Daytona
375 America
250 GT/L Lusso
365 GTC/4
456 GT
375 MM
330 GT 2+2
512 BBi
250 Europa GT
500 Superfast
250 GT Boano
275 GTB/4
308 GT4
550 and 575
410 Superamerica
275 GTS
308 and 328
360 and F430
250 GT Coupe
Dino 246 GT
250 GT Spyder California
330 GTC
288 GTO
612 Scaglietti

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