Italy in the late 1960s was a hotbed of creative energy in the automobile industry. GT cars were becoming ever more powerful and exotic, while Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati battled for sports car supremacy. Ferrari’s proven front-mounted V12 layout was the foundation of the traditional Ferrari road car, even while the Scuderia was in the midst of a mid-engine revolution. Lamborghini, on the other hand, tossed convention aside for a radical transverse-rear-engine layout on their staggering new Miura of 1966. The arrival of the groundbreaking Miura signaled alarm bells for many within Ferrari, as suddenly the gorgeous but traditional 275GTB/4 was on the back foot compared to the new kid from Sant’Agata.
While the 275 GTB/4 was still relatively new, Pininfarina’s design chief, Leonardo Fiavoranti, took a bare chassis and engine from the floor to mock up a new design. The muscular new shape was more modern than the 275, being wider all around, with its crisp edges, more defined lines, and a bold Plexiglas band across the nose. It so impressed Enzo that the green light was given for production. When the new 365 GTB/4 “Daytona” was introduced at the 1968 Paris Salon, the reception was lukewarm compared to the radical Miura; the Ferrari was considered too orthodox. However, while Lamborghini struggled with the development of the Miura, the 365 GTB/4 and its open-topped 365 GTS/4 NART relied on a proven platform that was reliable, strong and delivered storming performance. The Daytona was magnificent GT car and a true supercar, providing a 0-100mph sprint in 12.6 seconds on the way to a top speed of 174 mph.
This 1971 365 GTB/4 is an original, European specification left-drive car, completed on September 1, 1970. The car was sold through the official Ferrari dealer, Motor S.a.s. di Carle Allegretti in Bologna, Italy and originally finished in Argento Metallizzato over blue leather. Serial number 13729 is an original and desirable “Plexi-nose” car, featuring fixed headlamps behind a full-width Plexiglas panel that was unique to early European models. In the late 1970s, this car was exported to the USA, with Larry Crossan of Loomis, California noted as the earliest known American owner.
In 1981, Mr. Crossan handed the car over to Michael Sheehan’s European Auto Restoration where it received an expert conversion to Spyder configuration. Mr. Sheehan had performed a number of these conversions, and his cars, along with those of Richard Straman, are among the most authentic and widely accepted. The quality and attention to detail make them difficult to distinguish from the Scaglietti-built originals. Aside from the sheet metal changes, Sheehan’s conversions also included a reinforced front sub-frame, strengthened windscreen frame, and steel inner fender panels to ensure no compromises to the handling and performance.
Steve Forristall of Houston, Texas would own S/N 13729 for some time in the early 1980s, and he offered it for sale in 1987. It changed hands a few more times in 1990s and early 2000s, and the ownership chain is well-documented. A high-quality cosmetic restoration was performed in approximately 2001, and the most recent owner acquired it in 2007.
Today, this fantastic Daytona presents in excellent condition. The body, now finished in classic Rosso Corsa, shows crisp body lines and excellent panel fit. Doors open and shut with a satisfying and solid feel, and the quality of the Spyder conversion is outstanding. Completing the look is a set of beautiful Borrani wire wheels wrapped in correct-type 215/70-VR15 Michelin radials. Exterior brightwork and body fittings are in very good overall condition, showing some light hazing in places yet remaining consistent and attractive.
The interior is nicely presented, with signature Daytona bucket seats feature contrasting red inserts, black carpets, and black fabric soft-top. The. The upholstery is in excellent overall order, and while the leather seats and dash covering appear more recent, the door panels and console possibly date to the original restoration. Equipment includes power windows, air conditioning, a period correct Becker Mexico cassette/stereo and a correct Daytona steering wheel. Sheehan’s conversion even includes the rare pull-down sun visors which were unique to the factory-built Daytona Spyder. Correct original instruments reveal the car’s home-market roots.
Beneath the hood is Ferrari’s legendary four-cam, 4.4-liter V12 topped by a sextet of Weber carburetors. The engine is tidy and well detailed, with correct wrinkle-finish cam covers and air cleaner housing. It runs strong, pulling well through the rev range while emitting a glorious soundtrack that enhances with the top folded. It benefits from a recent service which included the rebuilding of the carburetors, new ignition coils, new plugs, and new wires. The brake system was also serviced with rebuilt calipers and new pads.
With its timeless design and astonishing performance, the Daytona is one of Ferrari’s most iconic road cars and one of the greatest grand tourers of all time. This beautiful example is road-ready and is sure to impress its future keepers for many more miles.