The Ferrari 365 GTB 4 “Daytona” was neither intended nor designed for competition use, but like all Ferraris it had the basic attributes: a powerful and reliable engine, competent chassis with predictable handling and refined aerodynamics. Its speed, power and aerodynamics commended it to the great endurance races of its day, like Le Mans, Sebring and Daytona.
Luigi Chinetti was the first to prove the Daytona’s competition potential with an alloy-bodied example and later chassis no. 12467, which finished fifth overall at Le Mans in 1971. Witnessing the promise of these early attempts, and perhaps feeling the pressure of the increasing costs of prototype competition, Ferrari ultimately chose to begin development on the first series of factory competition Daytonas. Development began in the Assistenza Clienti division in summer 1971 and, ultimately, Ferrari produced three different series with five cars each.
Series III cars, in particular, are similar in appearance to their immediate predecessors, but subtle yet very important modifications are visible on this last and most evolved series of Daytona Competition cars. Fuel filler caps were located on both rear wings for ease of re-fueling during long distance races – the Daytona’s specialty. Windows were made of glass, like the previous series, and the cars received a deeper and narrower chin spoiler and steel bodies with aluminum bonnets and boot lids – again, to reduce weight.
In addition to suspension and brake modifications, various engine developments included different pistons, connecting rods, higher lift camshafts, larger carburetor jets and a larger cold air box, all of which amounted to greater output. All told, the Series III cars were the most evolved and powerful of all competition Daytonas although, as with most things Ferrari and racing-related, continual evolution and development make it nearly impossible to characterize each series definitively and without exception.
Despite the numerous upgrades conducted privately on Daytonas, only the 15 cars factory-prepared in Maranello between 1971 and 1973 are rightly regarded as the genuine 365 GTB 4 Competizione cars. They proved tremendously successful on the racetrack, securing class victories at Le Mans in 1972, 1973 and 1974. Incidentally, in 1972 the 365 GTB 4 Competiziones occupied the top five spots of the GT category at Le Mans before going on to secure both first and second places in the Tour de France the same year. At the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1979, a 365 GTB 4 Competizione finished second overall in a car that was six years old!
The Ferrari 365 GTB 4 Competizione presented here, chassis no. 16363, was the second of the Series III factory competition Daytonas built, completed on March 1, 1973. A left-hand drive car, it was bought new by French Ferrari importer Charles Pozzi SA in Paris-Levallois Perret, France. Originally finished in Rosso Chiaro, it was immediately given the red and white livery of its sponsor, the Thomson electrical appliance company, by Carrosserie G. Rivillon in Paris. It was also fitted with a small front spoiler below the grille, which was intended to allow for even higher speeds on the Mulsanne straight at Le Mans. A rear diffuser was fitted for the same purpose – a unique feature on this particular car, which makes it instantly recognizable in period photographs at Le Mans in 1973.
It was raced at the Le Mans test day on March 31st by Jean-Claude Andruet who achieved the 12th fastest time in the car’s first outing. The following day Andruet and Bob Wollek drove the Pozzi-entered Daytona, and not only recorded the quickest lap time of all the Ferrari Daytonas entered, but also drove to a class win and third overall in the Le Mans four-hour race – a fantastic second day of racing for 16363.
Pozzi brought the car back to Le Mans in June for the famed 24-Hour race with drivers Claude Ballot-Léna and Vic Elford. Chassis 16363 was one of nine 365 GTB 4s on the grid with other teams including Ecurie Francorchamps, J-C Bamford Excavators and N.A.R.T. Combined with the nine Porsche 2.8 Carrera RSRs and the three Corvettes on the track, the GT class was sure to be hotly contested. The #6 N.A.R.T. Daytona, driven by Sam Posey and Milt Minter, held the GT lead for quite some time, but the Ballot-Léna/Elford Daytona took the lead over the N.A.R.T entry and crossed the finish line in sixth overall, finishing first in the GT class.
Chassis no. 16363’s racing days were not over after its class win at Le Mans. In 1975 Pozzi SA sold the car to Jean-Claude Bajol from Toulouse, France, a long-standing Ferrari collector. Bajol sold it three years later to Jean-Piere Delaunay, who raced the car in 1982 at the Super Sports Car race at Montlhéry. From Delauney the car went to Mattey and in the late 1990s was sold through Gregor Fisken to Axel Schütte before going to Nicolaus Springer of Gstaad, Switzerland.
While in his ownership, 16363 was maintained in 1999 by David Cottingham’s DK Engineering, renowned for their race preparation and restoration of Ferraris. That same year Springer entered the historic Tour Auto in France in the Thomson-liveried Daytona and was cheered on by the French crowds.
The current fastidious owner, an experienced and very successful historic racing driver, acquired the car in 2000 and immediately entered several events, including the Shell Ferrari Maserati Historic Challenge, the Targa Florio and the Tour Auto. After many successful finishes, he elected to bring the car to Roelofs Engineering in Holland for a full suspension set-up and total rebuild of the engine and gearbox. Since then the car has been used sparingly at events throughout Europe and most recently at the Le Mans Classic retrospective in 2008, where it was the feature car both during the race and the Daytona 40th Anniversary demonstration laps.
Following its historic participation at Le Mans, 16363 was returned to Roelofs Engineering and fully gone over. The gearbox was checked and the engine was rebuilt – the very same engine that pushed the car to its class win at Le Mans in 1975. In fact, 16363 is one of the few competition Daytonas to retain all of its original components, including the gearbox and engine.
This 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione Group IV did not sell at a high bid of $2,887,500 at RM Auctions’ Ferrari Leggenda e Passione auction held May 17, 2009 at Ferrari S.p.A. in Maranello, Italy. Its pre-sale estimate was $3,300,000 – $4,000,000.
[Source: RM Auctions]