Nice vice

The Ferrari Daytona was a beast dressed in plenty of beauty, says Jules Christian

In the early 1960s the scene was set to change the design concept of supercars forever. Pioneered by Colin Chapman and Team Lotus in Formula 1, the introduction of mid-engined technology and the subsequent vast improvement in roadholding has now become the standard of today.

Some supercar companies immediately went in this direction – including Lamborghini with the devastating Miura in 1966. In those days, their great competitor Ferrari, were sceptical of change, and were only prepared to venture into the smaller mid-engined market under the guise of the non-Ferrari badged Dino 246. In the mainstream they doggedly stuck to their proven big front engine, rear wheel-drive philosophy, and lined-up against the competition in 1968 with their 365GTB/4 – the Daytona.

As a matter of principle, Ferrari had to take the fastest production car badge from Lamborghini’s Miura and, with their larger 4390cc, six Weber carburettors, V12 punching out nearly 350bhp, made the 365GTB/4 top out 5km/h faster at 281. The 0-100km/h time was a healthy 5.4 seconds. Unable to realistically compete with the roadholding of the new mid-engine layout, they cleverly compensated a good deal with wishbones and coil spring independent suspension, and by moving the gearbox to be transaxle at the rear of the car for better weight distribution.

The Ferraris of that era were not designed to be a town car, and driving one around London was, well, horrible. The interior was luxurious enough, but to drive, the steering and clutch were heavy, the gearbox gate hampering, and the engine sounded and felt uncomfortable. Not at all what I expected. But, on the open road, the Daytona was a different animal – a true Ferrari, with endless power and beautiful balance, with just enough twitch to remind you that you were driving a front engine, rear-wheel-drive car. And the sound – gone was the grumpy traffic asthma to be replaced by the wonderful Ferrari howl.

When it came to looks, if the Miura was outrageous, the Pininfarina, Leonardo Fioravanti designed Daytona was quite simply beautiful. Built by coachbuilder Scaglietti, a total of 1,400 were produced until the end of its production run in 1973. The majority of these were Coupés (only 155 were built right-hand-drive) and just 122 were Spyder convertibles.

Starting prices for genuine Daytona’s now begin at €500,000 with the rarity of the Spyder commanding a lot more. This additional value has seen a good many Coupés having been converted to Spyders. One example of this is the one seen driven in a TV legal drama episode of Suits by character Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht). Undoubtedly, however, the most famous one was used by Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson) in the early series of Miami Vice, (before the white Testarossa) which was, in fact, one of the may replicas that have also come on to the market.

Owning a real one – now that would be a nice vice.

Ferrari Daytona Coupe

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