1972 Ferrari Daytona
1972 Ferrari Daytona. Click image to enlarge

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Article and photo by Bill Vance

Few cars evoke the mystique of a Ferrari. Founded by Italian Enzo Ferrari, the marque has in its more than 60 years established itself as one of the world’s great GT and racing car manufacturers.

The cars that bore the Prancing Horse of Maranello built an outstanding competition record on roads and tracks around the globe. And of all the great Ferraris, one of the most coveted is the 365 GTB/4 “Daytona,” and the open version, the 365 GTS/4 “Daytona” Spider.

Quotations are used because it apparently was the press, not the factory that gave it the Daytona name. But it’s a fitting choice in view of that Florida city’s reputation for speed, and Ferrari’s accomplishments there.

Young Enzo Ferrari had raced cars during the 1920s, but proved better at running a racing team. He managed the Alfa Romeo Grand Prix operation from 1930 to ’37. After a disagreement he left and formed his own team in 1940. This was interrupted by the Second World War, when he built machine tools, then returned to cars in 1946.

Ferrari needed money to finance his racing, which led him into building road cars in 1947. Influenced by the American Packard V12, he made the V12 engine layout a Ferrari trademark, although Ferraris with other types of engines were built.

The Ferrari Maranello factory’s road cars soon established themselves as performance leaders, just as his racing cars did. While production was limited, Ferraris were beautiful and fast, and came in a wide array of models and types.

In the late 1950s and early ’60s a revolution took place in Formula One and other racing wherein the engine migrated from the front of the car to a location between the driver and the rear axle.

Exotic road cars followed this lead a few years later, and Ferrari’s first mid-engined road car was the 1964 250 LM (for LeMans) model. Ferrari also faced a challenge from Ferruccio Lamborghini, Italian tractor maker turned exotic car manufacturer, in the form of the Lamborghini Miura which appeared in 1966. Its four-cam V12 nestled transversely between the passengers and the rear axle.

Although the trend was definitely to the mid-engine layout, it seems that before abandoning the traditional layout Ferrari was determined to build the best front-engined GT ever. The result was the Daytona, Ferrari’s last front-engined two-seater for many years.

Introduced to the world at the 1968 Paris auto show, the 365 GTB/4 was a formidable automobile. Its name was arrived at in logical Ferrari fashion. The first three numbers denoted the cubic centimetre displacement of each cylinder; the GT stood for grand turismo, approximately grand or luxury touring; and the “B” was for berlinetta, meaning small sedan or coupe. The final “4” indicated four camshafts. In spite of all this logic, however, when the press dubbed it the Daytona, it stuck.

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