1971 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Spyder

Italy in the late 1960s was a hotbed of creative energy in the automobile industry. The supercar race was heating up in a major way as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and even DeTomaso were locked in a battle for exotic car supremacy. Ferrari was staunchly traditional, Enzo once quipping that a mid-engine car was akin to putting the cart before the horse. Their front-mounted V12 layout had proven successful for many years, and was the foundation of the traditional Ferrari road car, even in the face of the mid-engine revolution within the competition department. Lamborghini on the other hand, went all out with a radical transverse-rear-engine layout on their staggering new Miura of 1966. The arrival of the impossibly low, svelte Miura signaled alarm bells for many within Ferrari, as suddenly the gorgeous 275GTB/4 was looking archaic in the face of the new kid from Sant’Agata.

Pininfarina’s design chief at the time, Leonardo Fiavoranti, was never a huge fan of the 275 GTB, and even while the car was still relatively new, he was inspired to take a bare chassis and engine from the floor and mock up a new design – all in his spare time. The muscular new shape was more modern than the 275, being wider all round, with its crisp edges and signature plexiglass band across the nose. It so impressed Enzo that the green light was given for production. When the 365GTB/4 “Daytona” was introduced at the 1968 Paris Salon, the reception was lukewarm given the sensation caused by the radical Miura. The car was seen by the press as too orthodox in comparison, but Enzo was no fool. While Lamborghini struggled with development of the Miura, the 365GTB/4 relied on a proven platform that was reliable, strong and delivered storming performance. In spite of its big GT nature, the Daytona was a true supercar, delivering a 0-100mph sprint in 12.6 second on the way to a 174mph top speed.

Like the 275GTB/4 before it, American importer Luigi Chinetti lobbied the factory to offer a convertible version for the important American marketplace. While the subsequent 122 examples is a mere fraction of total Daytona production, it was certainly more than the scant ten versions of the 275 GTS/4 NART Spyder that preceded it. The Daytona shape lends itself well to having the roof lopped off, and over the years a number of coupes have been converted into spyders by different coachbuilders. One of the most successful and respected of those is Richard Straman. An engineer and coachbuilder, Straman has built numerous convertible conversions for Ferraris ranging from the 275 GTB to the 550 Maranello. His work his highly regarded for its quality engineering and factory-quality finish work, and as such, any open-topped Ferrari to carry the Straman name is given a blessing by collectors and experts alike.

This 1971 365 GTB/4 Daytona, S/N 13941 is a very early American market car, the third such example produced in US-specification. It was originally offered via Luigi Chinetti Motors, and the history picks up via its first time advertised for sale by Ron White of Ohio in 1974. It passed through a few hands in the 1970s before finding its way to the hands of Joe Alphabet, a California-based dealer of used Italian exotica, as well as an early supplier of Ferrari GTO replicas. During Alphabet’s ownership, 13941 received a freshening and upgraded with competition-style cosmetics. Shortly afterward, the car was sold and converted by Richard Straman to spyder configuration. By the mid-1980s this Daytona found a long term owner in Mike Walther of St. Louis, Missouri who kept the car in his care for 11 years. It was then offered by respected Ferrari dealer Mike Sheehan in 1998, and it found its second long-term owner who enjoyed it for a further 20 years and performed much of the restoration work it wears today.

In 2016, S/N13941 was repainted in beautiful Fly Yellow and the interior trimmed in fresh tan hides. It presents today in excellent condition, with excellent quality paint and detailing. Body panels are crisp and straight, with precise panel gaps, and the Straman spyder conversion is executed to coachbuilder standards; fully finished with an excellent folding top and a nicely fitted tan leather boot. Bright stainless, chrome and alloy trim is all in fine condition, and the car sits on freshly refurbished Cromodora knock-off alloy wheels with proper three-eared wheel nuts, all wrapped in correct Michelin XWX rolling stock.

Along with the freshly restored body, the interior was treated to a full retrim in attractive light tan leather. The seats appear in very good order, still looking quite fresh and showing almost no signs of use. The same tan leather also covers the sills, door panels and console; all executed to the same high quality standard. The Daytona’s signature black “mousehair” dash has been carefully recovered, and the instruments appear crystal clear in the correct silver binnacle. A period correct Becker Mexico resides in its signature vertical position in the console alongside the gated shifter. Switchgear is all in fine order including the controls for the factory air-conditioning system which remains intact.

Beneath the bonnet is the star of the show; Ferrari’s 4.4 liter, Tipo 251 quad-cam V12 that sends its 350 highly-energetic horses through a 5-speed transaxle. In keeping with the rest of this car, the engine is detailed with many correct fittings and finishes. Most importantly, it runs and drives beautifully, sounding crisp and healthy through the correct Ansa exhaust system. This striking Ferrari Daytona Spyder is an outstanding choice for an enthusiast seeking a high quality, open-topped Daytona at a fraction of the cost of one of the 122 NART cars. It also benefits from well-known history and excellent presentation, and, true to form, proves to be an absolute thrill to drive.

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