This 1972 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spyder sold for $365,500, including buyer’s premium, at Bonhams Europe Nürburgring auction held August 9, 2003.
Convertible versions of newer Ferraris like the 355 Spider and 360 Spider may substantially outsell their closed brothers, but that wasn’t always the case. U.S. dealers once struggled to sell ragtop Ferraris like California Spyders and NART Spyders, and European distributors often wouldn’t order them at all. The production of any convertible V12 Ferrari seldom broke 100 examples and the total production of all convertible V12s didn’t pass 1,000 units until the 550 Barchettas were built in 2001.
In the late 1970s the Daytona Spyder began to break this stigma. As speed limits and insurance costs began to restrict how people drove, beauty and rarity gained greater importance in a Ferrari purchase than ultimate performance. Open Ferraris became more popular and the beautiful Daytona Spyder began to creep into the garages and onto the wish lists of many collectors.
By the early 1980s, the desirability of the Daytona Spyder was high enough to make it an early entry into the speculator’s market. This reached a feverish level by the end of the decade and thanks to the fancy trading of some enterprising dealers, prices broke the million-dollar mark. Like many of those ’80s high fliers, the Daytona Spyder is worth about a third of that high value today. Unfortunately, along with the deflation in price came a decrease in status. The bubble market for Daytona Spyders led to a proliferation of counterfeits, mostly converted Daytona coupes or rebodied Corvettes. Their existence continues to stifle the desirability of the originals and dilute the market.
The Ferrari Market Letter has records of 113 Daytona coupes that were converted to Spyders. The actual number is probably higher, and may even exceed the 121 factory-built Spyders. Like Cobra replicas and other clones, these conversions are parasites, feeding off the rarity and value of the original models. As this population grows, owners and prospects for original cars are turned off by the loss of exclusivity and the value of the original models is stunted.
I was fortunate enough to drive a Daytona Spyder from Iowa to Atlanta in the early 1980s. It was mid-summer so I threw back the top in the seller’s driveway and left it down for the duration of my trip. I drove all night and most of the next day, enthralled by the wonderful V12 sounds whipping by in the wind. Handling, acceleration and comfort were all impressive, though the arduous steering at low speeds and marginal braking performance were notable shortfalls.
This Daytona Spyder’s original owner is none other than Dr. Hans Riegel, the German Willy Wonka. Riegel built his personal fortune as the proprietor of confectionery company HARIBO (HAns RIegel from BOnn). While his candy empire may not be a household name in the U.S., you might recognize the logo and packaging of the company’s gummi bears. 15845 spent the past few years in a candy warehouse at HARIBO, its existence and location common knowledge in collector circles.
With the provenance and authenticity of the car undeniable, the real question here was the 365 GTS/4’s condition. It had been driven over 55,000 kilometers (34,000 miles) and although never abused, the car was hardly pampered. The auction house made every effort to exploit the unique one-owner history but in the end it didn’t seem to matter-after all, once the car changed hands, it’s just another two-owner Daytona Spyder. The selling price was appropriate for the condition of the car and both the buyer and the new owner should be pleased.-Steve Ahlgrim