Note a version of this article was published in 2012 on www.Drivecult.com. This version is updated with revised conclusions based on further experience.
The Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytona is one of the most iconic classic Ferraris. The combination of a powerful V12 engine, great looks and huge performance even by today's standards has meant the popularity of this model has endured. The downside to this is that the Daytona has always been an expensive car and remains so today. Even a Daytona in need of some TLC is likely to set you back at least £400,000.
Within the classic Ferrari world there is a perception that its lesser-known brother, the 365GTC/4, offers much of the same attributes for little more than half the price. On paper that's true; both cars were sold side by side and both offer 4.4 liter V12 engines that produce over 300 horsepower. But how do the cars compare in reality, is it a half price Daytona or does it have an appeal all of its own?
The Ferrari 365GTB/4, which has become widely known by the unofficial name Daytona was launched, at the Paris Salon in 1968 as Ferrari's top line Berlinetta, it was developed from and replaced the 275GTB/4. A strict two-seater, the Daytona was, to many critics' surprise, front-engined at a time when the new fad was for mid-engined cars. Despite some people considering it to be a dinosaur, the Daytona soon won praise for its high speed stability and excellent handling. The only significant change during its production was to the front end styling, which was revised in 1971 to replace the original plexiglass covered headlamps with pop-up items to comply with US regulations. An open Spyder version, the 365GTS/4, was added to the range at around the same time. Production ran through to 1973, by which time 1284 Berlinettas and 122 Spyders were made.
The 365GTC/4 joined the range at the Geneva show of 1971 and as such was the first V12-engined car to have been developed after Fiat took 50% control of the company. The C4 (as I will refer to them for the rest of the article) followed on from two models, the 365GTC (a car with very different styling) and the 365GT 2+2. Compared with the Daytona, it offered 2+2 seating, although the rear seats are very marginal for all but the smallest of children!
The C4 was destined to have a very short sales life, since its replacement - the mechanically identical 365GT4 2+2 - was unveiled a mere 18 months later at the Paris Salon of 1972. Despite its short life, the C4 was a sales success. 500 examples found homes which meant it actually outsold the Daytona in that period, despite being a more expensive car when new. The vast majority of C4s went to the United States, with around forty being made in right-hand drive.
Styling is very much a matter of personal preference and I'll leave you to form your own opinions as to which car is better-looking. As with most Ferraris the Daytona was styled by Pininfarina with their chief stylist Leonardo Fioravanti as the lead designer. As I've already mentioned, early Daytonas came with fixed headlamps under plexiglass covers. Personally, I prefer the later pop-up arrangement but there is a very slight price premium on the earlier version. The Daytona very much follows the 'long bonnet' tradition of previous Ferrari Berlinettas and features the same 2.4m wheelbase as every Berlinettas from the 250SWB onwards, though with a wider track.
The C4's styling is unique and has very little in common with previous or future Ferraris. Once again it is the work of Pininfarina but this time lead designer was Aldo Bravarone. Pininfarina also built the bodies for the C4 whereas the Daytona’s were built at the Scaglietti works. The major innovation - and the most controversial aspect of the styling - is the integrated front bumper which wraps around the front grille. It was painted black as standard, although some owners have since colour-coded this to match the body. The rear bumper is also painted black but is a more conventional design. The bumpers and other smaller styling features leave no doubt that the C4 is a newer design than the Daytona. The 2+2 configuration results in a longer wheelbase than the Daytona at 2.5m.
Two Ferraris with 4.4 litre V12s - surely the same engine? Not quite. Both cars share the same basic engine block and pistons, but there are an awful lot of differences.
Taking the Daytona first, Ferrari designated the engine as Tipo 251. It was the first Ferrari engine to marry the 4.4 litre block to twin cam per bank heads. On top of the engine sat six downdraft Weber carburettors. Lubrication was by a race-style dry sump system, and the engine provides drive to the road through a rear-mounted five-speed transaxle. The gears are in a dog-leg arrangement with first down and to the left. All this late-Sixties technology equates to 352bhp at a heady 7500rpm. Peak torque is 318 lb/ft at 5500rpm.
The C4 engine was the first model to receive a new engine designation system (still in place today) and is known as the F101. As the car's name implies, it also features 4 cams but features revised cylinder heads with the inlet ports moved to between the camshafts and the oil filters mounted within the V of the block. In order to facilitate the C4's lower bonnet design, the engine uses Weber sidedraft carburettors, which, due to tight under-bonnet access, can be a real pain to maintain. Being the less performance-oriented model, the C4 uses wet-sump lubrication and perhaps one of the more significant variances in driving experience compared to the Daytona, a conventional gearbox mounted in line with the engine. The shift is also a conventional H pattern and does not have the traditional Ferrari open gate gear selector. Ferrari were uncharacteristically coy about the power output, particularly for the European version, and never revealed official figures. However, depending on which book you read, the C4 makes between 330 and 340bhp at 6800 rpm. The emissions-strangled US versions made 320bhp at 6600rpm. Incidentally, Ferrari always claimed the same power for both US and European/UK versions of the Daytona.
Those sidedraft carburettors do make the C4's engine a rather more interesting unit to look at; the interesting parts of the Daytona's unit are covered by a rather large air filter cover. Some people remove this and replace it with open intake trumpets, but I don't think this is the best thing for engine life!
Suspension-wise, both cars use the classic double wishbone arrangement all round, though Ferrari chose to emphasise the touring nature of the C4 by fitting the car with self-levelling rear suspension. The units used were very complicated and often fail. Replacements are difficult to source and tend to be expensive, so a lot of C4s including the test car have had these replaced with Koni adjustable coilover units.
Wheels and tyres are identical 7.5 by 15” Cromodora rims front and rear with 215/70 tyres. Michelin XWXs were the standard fit when new. Many Daytonas have been fitted with the wider 9” rear rims from the later 512 Boxer. Ferrari did homologate the 9” rim for sale with the Daytona (so they could fit wider rims on the race versions) but it does not seem that any were actually delivered with these wheels. Borrani wire wheels were an option on both cars.
The Daytona's steering is not power-assisted, whereas the C4 does feature power assistance. However, my Daytona has been fitted with the power steering unit from a later Ferrari 400, a car which shares much with the C4.
The ultimate raison d'être for both cars is as grand tourers. In an era before budget airlines, both could be used to cover great distances across continents in speed and comfort. Neither car is especially economical, though from experience the lighter Daytona is marginally more frugal than the C4. This is all relatively speaking, though; your credit card will pay a heavy price at the pumps with either car, since both are unlikely to return much beyond 14mpg. To give the cars a respectable range with such thirsty engines, they're fitted with large 120+ litre fuel tanks.
Stepping inside; the Daytona has a relatively simple cockpit. The dash has clear traditional dials made by Veglia, with a speedometer which reads to 180mph. The centre of the dash has four levers for heating controls and an (optional) air-conditioning unit mounted under the dash. The radio is rather awkwardly mounted in the centre console, but I never use it anyway! Windows work electrically from two switches on the centre console. The Daytona was clearly designed to be left-hand drive from the outset, since the gear lever is offset to the left. For right-hand drive examples, Ferrari did not want to go to the expense of repositioning the lever and merely angled the shaft of the lever towards the driver. The Daytona has the traditional Ferrari gate selector but for reasons only known to the UK importer at the time, this is covered by a leather boot on UK cars.
The seats are excellent buckets which provide support where you need it and movement where you don't. The driving position is quite laid back and suits my 6’2" frame quite well. The wheel is a large diameter leather-covered item (early examples have a wooden rimmed wheel). It is angled slightly oddly, which sometimes generated unfavourable comparisons with a bus. The seat is set quite low in the car and positioned close to the rear axle.
Moving from the Daytona to the C4, the immediate sense is of a more modern car despite there only being three years between the respective launches. I suspect the main reason for the difference is the Fiat influence on the design; the instrument units use a different and more modern font and have large plastic surrounds. The instrument pod is nowhere near as attractive as that in the Daytona, and not nearly as easy to read. In my preferred driving position, the cowl on top of the dash obscures the tops of the dials which is rather annoying at motorway speeds. The wheel is quite close to the cowl too, and the backs of your fingers can brush against it as you turn the wheel.
The rest of the cockpit is dominated by the very wide transmission tunnel, the width being necessary to accommodate the in-line gearbox. The gear stick sits atop this and is handily placed close to the steering wheel in a style reminiscent of many touring car racers. Air conditioning is standard, and works rather better than the Daytona's unit which only blows nice and cold when it is cold outside! All other ancillary switches are on the centre console.
The C4 does not have the bucket seats of the Daytona and I find them rather thin and lacking in support, particularly under the thighs. The transmission tunnel also means that you are sitting rather more outboard of the centre line in the newer design. The positioning of the seats leads to a much higher driving position than the Daytona and a sense that you’re sitting on rather than in them. The rear seat is a bench and as already mentioned, can only really be used for small children. The back of the seat folds down so the space can be used as additional luggage capacity, for which this area is probably best suited. The Daytona also has a small parcel shelf behind the seats for storage.
Both cars have reasonably-sized boots, certainly ample enough for the requirements for a weekend away for two. The C4's is larger, though, and slightly better shaped. It does have quite a high loading lip so care needs to be taken not to scratch the paint if lifting in heavy bags.
Loading lips are all well and good, but I'm pretty sure most readers will be far more concerned with how the two cars perform. The Daytona's performance figures are pretty well known. A top speed of 175mph and a 0–60mph time in around 5.5 seconds (a little less or a little more depending on which of the contemporary road tests you read) would allow the Daytona to stand up and be counted with modern performance cars. Contemporary road tests reports for the C4 are harder to come by, but Paul Frère did put some numbers to the car in period. He achieved a top speed of 149mph (Ferrari claimed a top speed of 162mph) and a 0-62 time of 7.2 seconds. Respectable figures, sure, but the additional weight and reduced power do take their toll on outright acceleration.
Some forty plus years later, raw numbers become rather irrelevant, since if you want out-and-out performance from your Ferrari, it's much better to buy a new F12 or 488. The way they drive is the important thing here, and this is where the ultimate decision needs to made as to whether the C4 is a credible Daytona alternative?
When I first wrote this piece for Drive Cult back in 2012, my conclusions where perhaps a little harsh on the GTC/4. Certainly a GTC4 owner on Twitter (I assume it was an owner anyway) went to great pains to tell me as such. I considered it to be a good car just not a very exciting one, and more fit for cruising than generating the excitement you might expect from a V12 Ferrari.
My late father thought very differently. He loved the C4’s for exactly the reasons I had reservations and he actually owned three different ones over the years with all of them covering many thousands of miles in his hands.
In the summer of 2015 the cancer that ultimately claimed his life meant Dad was no longer able to drive himself, I took him out for a run in his beloved blue C4 nicknamed Igor. On that day I finally gelled with the C4. At low speeds the engine actually sounds a little better than the Daytona’s perhaps because the wet sump dampens some of the less pleasant harmonics. When you get above 3500 rpm it howls like you would expect a Ferrari V12 too and the C4 can really move, in that case much to the surprise of the Ford Focus ST that was tailgating us.
The H pattern gearbox is easy to use if not exactly rushed in changes, and the car generally feels quite benign in its handling. It rides very well too on the tall 70 section tyres . The standard power steering perhaps lacks a little feel but is nicely weighted for the car and not overly light at sensible speeds although in common with many Italian cars there is something of a dead spot around the straight ahead. Visibility is excellent although as with the Daytona the driver does not have a clear view of the cars extremities when manoeuvring. It is quite a wide car however and on English country lanes this can feel rather intimidating especially as the drive sits quite outboard in the car.
Jumping from C4 to Daytona could be something of a shock especially if you are starting the Daytona from stone cold. The steering on a standard Daytona is very heavy at manoeuvring speeds. If you have a garage that is a little tricky to get out of (as I do) the investment in a power steering conversion will pay dividends with the multi-point turn as both cars have a worse turning circle than a London bus. The dog leg gearbox is a truculent device until it is warm and 2nd gear is an absolute no no until there is a little temperature in the gearbox. With the power steering conversion the Daytona has a similar steering weight to the C4 but thanks to different steering geometry there is a lot more feel through the steering. If anything there is a little too much as the steering can kick back quite hard if you hit a significant bump and it it sometimes necessary to adopt a rally driver approach and rest your thumbs on the rim rather than wrap them around it.
Once the Daytona is up to temperature the Daytona is, for me, the more exciting place to be. I suspect it is mostly down to the lower driving position and the proximity of the driver to the back axle. The more supportive seats make a difference too, as those in the C4 really lack support and are the weakest point in the car. All of this adds up to a more intimate experience in Daytona and a feeling you are more as if you are at one with the car. It is faster too (if only by a tiny margin) and at higher revs the downdraft Webers allow the V12 to make noises that really make the adrenaline flow.
Pic Paul Harmer
The different weight distribution means that that the Daytona can prove to be slightly trickier at the limit. On wet roads the back can step out if too much power is applied as you exit a corner, but being a narrower car it is an easier car to thread down narrow British roads. The brakes are more confidence inspiring too. All of Dad’s C4’s seemed to have quite a softer brake pedal compared to the Daytona. The actually braking system on the cars is the same although as the C4 is heavier than the Daytona this no doubt contributes to the difference.
At the end of the day the dealer ads that describe the C4 as a Daytona alternative are, to me, both miss and underselling the car. With a similar set of ingredients Ferrari created two cars with different personalities, which makes sense as they were sold side by side when new. The C4 is the softer easier car to drive which can still produce the excitement you expect from a Ferrari when pushed. The Daytona is the more intimidating and more exhilarating proposition which can still play the grand tourer role when needed, and my personal preference, as you might expect, is for the latter.
Current market values rather undersell the C4 and I hope anyone looking at buying one is looking to buy one because of want it is and not because of the alternative it isn’t.