Model history: When Ferrari replaced the 275 GTB with the 365 GTB/4 'Daytona' in 1968 and no competition version was announced, a highly successful era came to an end. In this period, Ferraris, particularly the 250 GT derivatives, dominated GT racing. There were various reasons for the Italian manufacturer to suspend the customer racing program, like the spiralling costs of the sports car and F1 efforts and the switch of the focus to prototype racing of the potential clients.
The Ferrari 365 GBT/4 was nevertheless bestowed with the same racing DNA as its predecessors, so it was only a matter of time before one was independently prepared for racing. Not surprisingly, among the first to field a Daytona was Luigi Chinetti, who was Ferrari's American importer and long time private entrant under the North American Racing Team (NART) banner. Readied in 1969, the alloy-bodied NART Daytona was raced at Daytona and Sebring with a twelfth at the latter as the best result.
Buoyed by the performance of his Daytona, Chinetti approached Enzo Ferrari in an attempt to re-consider his decision not to make a competition version. He met his old friend halfway and offered the help of the 'Assistenza Clienti' or customer assistance department to ready a batch of five new cars for the 1971 season. Crucially, the 'Gestione Sportiva', the works racing department, was not involved. With this arrangement, Ferrari could genuinely claim they had no association with the competition Daytona, while also keeping his loyal clients happy.
Built to Group 4 regulations, the new 'Daytona Competizione' featured an all-aluminium body with plastic windows. This helped shave a massive 400 kg off the dry weight of the relatively heavy road car. Further changes to the exterior included the removal of the bumpers and the addition of small 'fences' on the the front wings to improve stability at high speed. Modification to the engine was limited to a cold air box and an open exhaust system. This raised the power with 50 bhp to 402 bhp.
In addition to Chinetti, other seasoned Ferrari privateers like French importer Charles Pozzi and Scuderia Filipinetti also bought the new GT racer. The fifth car was sold to an Italian, who opted to use the ferocious machine on the street. Ready late in 1971, the Daytona Competizione debuted at the Tour de France where the Filipinetti and Pozzi cars finished fourth and tenth overall respectively. The final major outing that year was in the Montlhery 1000 km where the Ferrari France car Daytona placed third overall and second in class.
Over the Winter five more cars were built, which used a steel body and a further tweaked engine, now good for 430 bhp. The Daytona Competizione had a breakthrough result at the 1972 edition of the 24 Hours where a Series 2 example entered by Pozzi finished fifth overall and first in class ahead of four sister cars. Underlining the car's versatility the Le Mans class winner also took an outright victory in the Tour de France a year later. Across the Atlantic, the Daytonas were also raced successfully.
Another and final batch five cars were built with even stronger engines for the 1973 season. They remained successful, scoring two more class wins at Le Mans. In addition to Chinetti's prototype and the 15 examples produced by the Assistenza Clienti, several other road-going Daytonas were updated to 'Group 4' specification in the early 1970s. Many of these cars had lengthy and successful racing careers; one even finished second overall in the Daytona 24 Hours as late as 1979.
With three class wins at Le Mans and an outright win in the Tour de France Automobiles, the Daytona Competizione has a rightful place in the long line of successful Ferrari GT machinery. Especially considering it was built in the manufacturer's client assistance department and not in the competition department. Today the Daytona Competizione is highly sought after and eligible for all the major events like the Tour Auto and Le Mans Classic.
Longtime Ferrari privateer entrant and importer for Belgium, Garage Francorchamps took delivery of this, the second Series 2 Daytona Competizione. Finished in the Belgian racing colour of yellow, it was raced in the 24 Hours of Le Mans by Derek Bell, Teddy Pilette and Richard Bond. They finished eighth overall and fourth in class. The car was retired from contemporary racing soon after and subsequently changed hands several times before it was bought by the current custodian in 1995. At a rare outing, chassis 17373 is seen here during the 2011 Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Finished in the French tricolore for first owner Charles Pozzi, this Daytona Competizione was one of the most successful. In 1972, it won its class at Le Mans and the Tour de France outright. At the end of the year, it was sold to Guy Domet, who regularly used the car on the road. The current owner acquired it nearly 25 years later and has since campaigned chassis 15667 in numerous historic events. It is seen here during the 2004 Tour Auto, which was sadly ended for this car with an accident.
Britain's Maranello Concessionaires was the first owner of this Daytona Competizione. Painted in their striking red and blue colours, it was raced at Le Mans where a very rare mechanical failure ended its day early. Sir Anthony Bamford subsequently fielded the car for Willie Green and Neil Corner under the JCB banner. The car has since been restored to its original configuration. Owned by the same collector since 1993, it is a regular entrant at the Tour Auto and the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The fifth and final Series 2 Daytona Competizione, chassis 15685 was sold to Luigi Chinetti for his NART team. Sam Posey and Tony Adamowicz used it to finish runner up in class at Le Mans behind a sister car while a month later Jean-Pierre Jarier and Greg Young did one better by winning the GTS class at Watkins Glen. Ken Starbird subsequently acquired it and campaigned it until the 1977 Daytona 24 Hours. In 1988 it was sold to Europe and restored to its NART colours. It is seen in this guise during the 2005 Tour Auto and 2006 Le Mans Classic.
While living in Europe in the early '70's, I had the opportunity to go to the 24 Hours of LeMans. For me, the race was bitter sweet as going to the race was a childhood dream. At the same time, one of my racing heros lost his life there, Jo Bonnier. As for the race itself, it indeed lasts for 24-hours, long in anyone's book. Having arrived the day before the race start, I drove my Peugeot 504 around the track. As it turned out, the local Gandarmes didn't like the fact that I was out on the track. They didn't catch me until I got back to the start/finish line. I swear, down the Mulsane I got her up to a smoking indicated 98MPH. When the race started, 3 friends and I had a camp just off the track near Dunlop Bridge. It didn't take long and one could tell which car was passing by. My favorite was the Daytona's, though the booming exhaust of the Corvettes was nice to hear too. At the end, Sam Posey and Tony Adamowica were the first Americans to cross the finish line in none other that a NART Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona. A great time was had by all.