1969 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Alloy
©2017 courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
Over 1,200 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 “Daytonas” were produced. Five were lightweight Alloy competition cars, which dominated the 24 Hours of Daytona. Further to those, Ferrari commissioned two aluminum-body street versions of the Daytona, chassis 12547 and this car, 12653. Chassis 12547 existed for many years as a road car but has subsequently been converted to competition specs. This car is the only surviving road specification Alloy Daytona. A unique car that no other collector can claim ownership to, this Daytona holds distinct ties to its competition brethren. Presented here in a barn-find state of condition, chassis 12653 remains remarkably authentic in many ways.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1969 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona alloy coupe
Years Produced:1968–73
Number Produced:1,284 coupes (seven in Alloy)
Original List Price:$19,500 (add approximately $1,000 for Alloy)
SCM Valuation:$772,800 (steel body)
Tune Up Cost:$3,500
Distributor Caps:$195 reproduction, $450 OEM
Chassis Number Location:On frame above right front spring mount
Engine Number Location:Below head on rear passenger’s side of block
Club Info:Ferrari Club of America
Alternatives:1972–73 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Spyder, 1962–64 Ferrari 250 GT/L Lusso, 1964–66 Ferrari 275 GTB
Investment Grade:A

This car, Lot 126, sold for $2,179,242, including buyer’s premium, at RM Sotheby’s “Leggenda e Passione” auction in Maranello, ltaly, on September 9, 2017.

“When the top goes down, the price goes up.” If you attended many automobile auctions, you’ve undoubtedly heard that phrase. Now it’s time to add a new phrase to the auction scene: “When the dirt comes off, the price goes down.”

I can easily understand the romantic appeal of a car that has recently escaped from years in a darkened shed surrounded by family cast-offs, but I’ve never understood why a filth-covered derelict will sell for more money than the same car would with the dirt washed off.

Dirty glory

Barn finds have always been part of the auction scene, but lately they seem to have become high theater. An auction catalog’s photo essay of a barn find can rival National Geographic’s coverage of the opening of an Egyptian pharaoh’s tomb. Dirt on the cars is carefully preserved as if the more dirt on the car, the more valuable the find. Cars shipped thousands of miles arrive at an auction with none of the dirt disturbed. How does that happen?

In the auction catalog, any information on climate control or varmints will be missing, as will descriptions of rusted undercarriages and dry leather. It seems to be more important to ensure the as-found condition than it is to give the buyer any hint of the surprises waiting under that gritty surface.

The truth of the matter is few dusty cars got put away in great condition. Usually, cars were put away because they became so run-down that their owners didn’t want to drive them anymore. Sometimes something broke and the owner just never got around to fixing it. Think about it this way: If there was a great car under most barn finds’ carefully curated dust, you can believe the auction company would have detailed it to the nines and highlighted that condition. The intrigue of lost treasure is the appeal here, and it’s expensive.

Hiding in Japan

RM Sotheby’s Daytona #12653 was no exception. The car first stirred the loins of the Ferrari cognoscenti in 2004, when blurry pictures of a dust-covered red Daytona showed up on eBay. The car was identified as an Alloy Daytona that had been expatriated to Japan more than four decades earlier. Pictures showed the car stored in a dirt-floor lean-to surrounded by clutter.

A Ferrarichat thread followed the auction and speculated about the mysterious Daytona. There was speculation on whether the car was really an Alloy car and speculation on whether the car was really in Japan. The answer to the former question was still ambiguous when the thread died. The later question was satisfied when a sharp-eyed poster spotted a discarded bag of Purina dog food labeled with Japanese characters.

The eBay auction was apparently placed by an ambitious broker who somehow discovered the car. The owner hadn’t authorized the broker to sell the car, but the broker hoped to land an offer large enough to entice the owner to sell. This brought some consternation from interested parties who chased the car only to find their offers ultimately declined.

Bill Noon of Symbolic International was one of the bidders in the eBay auction. Symbolic had boots on the ground in Japan and had been chasing the car for years. They had previously sent someone to see the car, and while horrified with what they found, made several offers nonetheless. Their offers were always rebuked by the owner, who clearly was not ready to sell.

Things change over 13 years. Allegedly, an Australian broker finally caught the owner in a selling mood. He quickly consigned the car to RM Sotheby’s for the Maranello sale.

Plenty of needs

The decades parked in a dirt-floor shed were not kind to this car. The steel components were pitted and deteriorating. Alloy bodywork does not rust but corrodes in its own way. There no telling what damage the moisture in the dirt did to the frame. Any repair of the main structure will be extensive and expensive.

Pictures of the interior show it as intact and in decent condition, but looks can be deceiving. The foam under the soft trim has probably turned to dust, and the leather is probably as hard as cardboard. Left alone, the interior would make an interesting display, but using the car as intended will require a complete renovation.

The car has not turned a mile in decades and there’s no word on what condition it was in when put away. A look under the hood reveals dust everywhere, pitted plating and a potential minefield of issues. Brakes, clutch and every bearing should be considered compromised. A few squirts of Marvel Mystery Oil and a new battery will not bring this one back to life.

Display or restore?

Preservation is pretty much out of the question for chassis 12547. It has already been painted at least once and it is too far gone for a sympathetic restoration. There are only two ways to go with this car: It can be totally restored, or it can be kept as-is and put on display like Peter Mullin did with the $365k Bugatti Brescia Type 22 salvaged from the bottom of Lake Maggiore in Switzerland (see SCM April 2010, p. 44).

But as chassis 12653 is the baddest Daytona short of an Alloy competition model, I’m sure it will be restored. The seller offered to pay for Ferrari Classiche certification, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Classiche is chosen to do the restoration.

Pricing a special car

Valuing a unicorn is a daunting task. Studying sales of other rare Alloy versions of production Ferraris like an Alloy 275 GTB/4 or an Alloy 250 GT California Spyder helps determine a theoretical premium. This car would be worth much less than one of the Alloy competition Daytonas, so there’s an upper end. Add in the most a restoration could cost and you have a range of value.

Of course, two determined bidders can blow the theory, and that’s what happened in Maranello. Using a 100% premium for the Alloy body, less the cost of restoration, #12653 probably sold for $500,000 more than it should have. I can’t blame the buyer for his exuberance, though — you can make more money; you can’t make another #12653.

The buyer got a very special car. Once restored, its light weight will make any drive an adventure, and at any show, everyone will want to look it over. This was a lot of money to spend and there’s a long road ahead for the new owner, but under all that dust is a treasure in the ultimate street Daytona. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.)

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