- The 365GTB/4 Daytona

Ferrari and the Daytona name

The new Daytona SP3 is the first official use of the Daytona name by the company but not the first Ferrari to be called that

The weekend saw the unveiling of the new Ferrari Daytona SP3, the latest in the Icona series of limited editions with a retro futuristic look that takes inspiration from Ferrari's past models. You maybe wondering why Ferrari has chosen to give the car a name most closely associated with a front engine Berlinetta when this is a mid engine sports car. The reason actually goes back to Ferrari's history and also relates to the Berlinetta but for slightly different reasons

Let's rewind to 1966 and the World Sportscar Championship. I suspect many readers will know this story from the Ford V Ferrari / Le Mans 66 movie of a couple of years ago. The film tells how Ford with the help of Carroll Shelby and driver engineer Ken Miles were able to beat the dominant Ferrari team at Le Mans that year. It's a great film even with some huge historical inaccuracies, chiefly being that despite the title it does not really tell the Ferrari side of the story.

1966 was a bad year generally for Ferrari. Italy was in the grip of workers industrial action and there were steel shortages. This put a major strain on the relatively tiny company's finances as contrary to the film, Ferrari was still an independent company with the Fiat acquisition not taking place until a few years later. The financial troubles undoubtedly severely impacted Ferrari's preparation to go racing. This wasn't helped by the racing team also suffering from internal strife which culminated in lead driver John Surtees walking out of the team after a dispute with team manager Eugenio Dragoni on the eve of practice for the 24 hours.

With all this going on it was no surprise that the well prepared and financed Ford teams were able to give Ferrari a drubbing as the blue riband Le Mans event and (narrowly) win the World Sportscar Championship. Enzo Ferrari knew the team would have to respond in 1967.

The 330P3 of 1966 was not a bad car but it suffered from some compromises due to the industrial action and Ferrari's lack of finances hindering its development. Most notably it used a brought in ZF gearbox instead of an in house developed unit and this proved to be the problem for the cars at Le Mans.

For the 1967 season chief engineer Mauro Forghieri was tasked with improving the P3 to make it both faster and more reliable. The result was imaginatively known as the 330P4. Compared to the P3, the P4 had a new in house gearbox, and revised cylinder heads for the 4.0 litre V12 which now featured 3 valves per cylinder and resulted in 450bhp, up 30 from the P3. The bodywork was revised to be a little less bulky (the replicas in the film are actually of the arguably prettier P4 and not the P3) and tyre widths were increased.

412P sn 0850 at the Ferrari 50th anniversary in 1997 picture is a scan from a physical photo

412P sn 0850 at the Ferrari 50th anniversary in 1997 picture is a scan from a physical photo

The 1967 World Sportscar Championship consisted of eight rounds with only the best five results counting towards the championship. This was an increase from 1966 when the best four from eight counted (there was an extra two points awarded for the winner at Le Mans in 1966). This change slightly favoured Ferrari as according to Chris Amon, one of the few drivers to race for both Ford and Ferrari during the 1966/67 period, the Ford's were designed to race at Le Mans, the Ferraris to race everywhere. Part of the difference was down to weight as although the Ford GT40 Mk II was extremely powerful, pushing out over 500bhp in some cases, it was a whopping 450kg heavier than the featherweight 330P4.

The first race of the season was the 24 hours of Daytona, and was also the first race back on home turf for the factory Fords since the famous Le Mans victory in 1966. The year before Ferrari has skipped the US rounds of the championship partially on cost grounds which had left the door open for Ford (driven by Ken Miles) to take the win. For 1967 Ferrari wanted to make a statement and sent two factory P4's backed up by two satellite team entered 412P's, which were basically P4's running carburettors rather than the complex Lucas fuel injection system of the factory cars.

Early signs were good as in pre season testing at Daytona; the P4's had comfortably broken Ken Miles' lap record from the previous year. Ford however has strength in numbers with six factory supported cars plus a number of privateers. The factory cars sported uprated engines producing more power than the year before. There was also the unusual sight of the winged Chaparral of Jim Hall's team which took pole position for the race.

Home movie footage of the 1967 Daytona 24 Hours from You Tube page vintagegarageusa

As the race started the Chaparral and the GT40 MkII of Mario Andretti leapt out in front with the Ferrari's settling into a steady rhythm and the drivers sticking to a predetermined lap time. This proved a wise choice as the Chaparral soon crashed out and the Fords were were struck down, one by one, with a previously unseen gearbox issue. Daytona unlike Le Mans was much more of a stop start circuit and this put more of a strain on the Ford gearboxes especially with the uprated engines..

This attrition resulted in Ferrari taking a comfortable 1-2-3 finish with the two factory P4's leading home the N.A.R.T. entered 412P. To further rub salt into Ford's wounds the three Ferraris lined up for a formation finish mimicking Ford's controversial finish at Le Mans the previous year (see the Petrolicious video embedded above).

The win was a huge morale booster for Ferrari and set them up for that year's World Sportscar Championship. Ferrari followed up Daytona with another win at the Monza round having skipped the Sebring round which was won by Ford with the new Mk IV. Ferrari then took third place at Spa beaten in part by a virtuoso wet weather drive by a young Jacky Ickx in a GT40 Mk I based Mirage M1. The nimble 2.0 litre Porsche 910's took the overall victory at the tight and twisty Nurburging and Targa Florio rounds. The P4's were defeated at Le Mans by the Le Mans optimised Ford Mk IV, but they were still able to finish second and third. At the final round held at Brands Hatch Ferrari took second place to the Chaparral. Chris Amon sharing the drive at Brands with Jackie Stewart in his only drive for Scuderia Ferrari.

With two wins, two second places and a third for their best 5 results Ferrari were able to take the title by two points from Porsche. Ford whom only officially entered Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans, finished third after a request to make Ickx's win at Spa count towards Ford's total denied. At the end of the season the championship rules were changed limiting cars to 3.0 litres unless more than 25 examples had been made which effectively outlawed the 4.0 litre P4 and the specialised big block versions of the GT40.

The importance of the Daytona win in Ferrari lore cannot be overstated. Team driver Mike Parkes had a painting of the three cars crossing the line commissioned, which he gave to Enzo Ferrari as a present. The painting was placed in Enzo's office and it was there for the rest of his life. It was also to date the last time that the works Scuderia Ferrari team would take a win in a 24 hour race (private and partially factory supported teams have taken 24 hour wins including at Daytona).

The following year after the race, the motoring press got rumours that Ferrari was developing a new road car to replace the 275GTB/4 and as it was also likely to be a response to Lamborghini's Miura, it might also be mid engine car like the P4. The rumours noted that the car was to be called Daytona in honour of the 24 hour race win. However when the new car was unveiled at the Paris show in 1968 it was known simply as the 365GTB/4 and it was still a conventional front engine GT car like the car it replaced.

Was the name just press speculation, maybe or maybe not? One version of the story is that Enzo himself pulled the name when it leaked out, and there maybe some partial truth in this. When early examples of the 365GTB/4 have been disassembled for restoration, the word Daitona has been found stamped on some of the parts. Daitona is an Italianised version of Daytona as the letter y does not appear in the standard Italian alphabet.

There may have been a more mundane reason though as maybe Ferrari did not want to clash with other manufacturers using the Daytona name? Shelby had christened the coupe version of the Cobra as the Daytona coupe and not long after the 365GTB/4 was launched, and before it was available in the United States, Dodge launched the bewinged Charger Daytona. While Ferrari could have used Daitona that might not have gone down so well in the States?

I might be speculating in the last part, but what is certainly true is that the name Daytona has stuck with the 365GTB/4 throughout its life and Ferrari have certainly never discouraged that, even referring to it on the history page on Ferrari's own website, but it has never been an official title.

The new Daytona SP3 directly evokes the styling of the P4 (among other Ferraris of the period including the one off Pininfarina designed 250P5 concept) and seems like a fitting if somewhat late tribute to Ferrari's great result back in 1967. I do hope that this will not result in a retconning of history to stop people referring to the 365GTB/4 as the Daytona. it might not have a super tangible link to the race other than being the next car launched, but it is a widely used term and much more memorable than 365GTB/4.


Pictures by me the 412P pictures are scans from physical film from the 1997 Ferrari 50th anniversary

330P4 video was made by Josh Clason for Petrolicious

Daytona SP3 film is from Shmee150 (as if you didn't know that from the image :-) )

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Comments (1)

  • Good article. I drove a 365 once when I was doing some work on it. Great car.

      2 days ago