When Enzo and co. introduced the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 “Daytona” to the world and the crowds at the 1968 Paris Motor Show it was put forth as the fastest production car of the day. In the 50 years that followed it has fallen ever further down the rankings of speed, but why wouldn’t it? Our consistent technological chug forward has unlocked more potential than Maranello could ever have imagined in the late 1960s, but the Daytona’s aesthetics have only appreciated as they’ve aged.
I love these front-engined V12 GTs from this bygone era of luxury touring that was lighter on the luxury and heavier on the accelerator. It’s 350 horsepower V12 is nothing to scoff at, back then or in 2018, but even seeing one silent and static is a treat. We all know it’s more fun to find a car “in the wild” rather than lost amidst a sea of its gleaming car-show-ready peers, and I recently had the pleasure of almost literally stumbling over this gorgeous red Daytona on a sunny Sunday afternoon in London.
Though it would seem unlikely given its condition, a bit of research tells me that this car has counted many years of regular driving and parking in such a manner; perhaps not the best way to protect the investment I’ll give you that, but perhaps it isn’t thought of in such terms. It’s hard to say what the story is when we make these chance encounters and I think that’s part of what makes these finds so enjoyable; we get to tap into our powers of imagination to create whatever backstory we please. I know it’s not a getaway car waiting to be given the beans by a bunch of gangsters, but who cares if we indulge in a little Hollywood in our head?
What is decidedly real is the beauty of this rather oddly shaped piece of Italian steel. From a traditional perspective, the proportions of the car are a bit bizarre; the driver is practically leaning against the rear wheel well, and the striking rake of the A-pillar doesn’t even begin until a few feet behind the ones up front, and the angle is so aggressive it barely makes a kink between hood and windshield. It’s almost a caricature of the big front-engined two-seater design that it built upon and evolved.
Tying it to the company’s designs to follow, the Daytona also has a line in the middle that goes all the way around the car before splitting up in the back a la 288 GTO and F40. Another feature on the Daytona that blends a bit of the new and the old are the five-spoke knock-offs (not in the replica sense of course). Borrani wire wheels and knock-off fasteners were the preferred shoes of Prancing Horses in the ‘60s, but sports cars were moving toward more substantial looking designs with fewer elements; this wheel artfully blends the two.
The Pininfarina bodywork also helped to define a new and sharper design language for the brand, the Daytona being a wider and longer form than the 275 it replaced, and while the rear end is more of an evolution of previous Ferrari tails, the leading edge of the Daytona is very much that, a leading edge. The sharp nose, the long expansive plane of a hood, the bold amber lenses defining the eyes rather the hidden-away headlights—it was a radical look, and its beauty has proven to be a timeless one.