When Motor Sport’s governing body announced late in 1967 changes to the Sports Car Regulations limiting engine size to three liters, Enzo Ferrari was so furious that he withdrew from participation in the 1968 Constructors Championship. It was therefore left to privateers such as Luigi Chinetti of New York to uphold the Ferrari tradition. During this time a replacement Berlinetta, the sensational 365 GTB/4, was introduced at the Paris Salon, dubbed the “Daytona” in honor of the 1967 Daytona 24-Hour victory.
This all-new Pininfarina design was a masterpiece and the ultimate Gran Turismo car capable of 196 mph from its new 4.4-liter, four overhead-camshaft 410 bhp engine. Luigi Chinetti immediately saw the racecar potential and entered one for the 1969 Le Mans 24-Hour race, but an accident during practice prevented it from competing. However, its potential after coming fifth in the 1971 race persuaded the factory to homologate the car for the then Group 4 GT class, but this would not be ratified until January 1972. In the meantime work began on the first series of five cars at the ‘Customer Assistance’ facility in Modena. The prime aim being to reduce weight, the bodies were made of aluminum and the glass windows replaced with Plexiglass.
Blueprinted engines and improved tuning provided 425 bhp and with wider wheels and race tires, three cars were entered for the September 1971 Tour de France, but had to compete in Group 5. Only two of the three actually started, the third being sold to a wealthy Italian, Dottore Miriani, for his personal use. They finished fourth and ninth which was encouraging, and a further two cars were completed for Luigi Chinetti to enter at Sebring. At this time a new second series of five cars was built, but this time with steel body work, aimed at the 1972 Le Mans 24-Hour race which saw nine Competition Daytonas entered and swept the board by finishing fifth to ninth overall and first to fifth in their class.
Class wins were obtained at the 6-Hour Watkins Glen, 9-Hour Kyalami and outright victory in the Tour de France. These successes encouraged a third series of five cars to be produced for the 1973 season with increased power and major internal modifications to the engine. Class victories were obtained in every race with second overall at Daytona, third in the 4-Hour Le Mans, and sixth in the 24-Hour Le Mans, and were repeated again in 1974 but came fifth at Le Mans. The Daytona more than upheld the Ferrari tradition and proved its incredible reliability as the perfect all round car, and in privateers’ hands was still competitive when a seven-year-old car came in second overall in the 1979 Daytona 24-Hour race.
The gleaming red Competition Daytona Chassis No. 14429 pictured here is the one that was purchased by the wealthy Italian prior to the 1971 Tour de France and has the unique distinction of having never been used in competition. It is one of the five original Modena-prepared Series I Cars with an all-alloy bodywork and Plexiglass windows. It is in superb condition and although used as a road car has had minimal use, being part of a private collection.
The Daytona is one of the great Ferraris and the last of the front-engined Super Cars.