According to the bible, it took God just seven days to create the world as we know it. Unfortunately, God doesn’t design cars, because the average time to develop a new car can be as long as four years. With computers and high tech design systems, the time can be shortened, but the process is still massive, costing an automaker billions of dollars. Even a single component can take years, as in the case of Jaguar and its 17-year development of the V12 engine.
Like God, the automotive world has its own “divine” being, controlling beauty, power, and inspiration. Of course, I am talking about Ferrari, and when Enzo Ferrari decided it was time to replace the 275 GTB/4, he called Pininfarina studios, who gave the job to a young designer named Lionardi Fioravanti. Like Genesis, the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 was created in just seven days.
Nicknamed the Daytona, much to the disdain of Enzo, the car first appeared at the 1968 Paris Motor Show and became an instant sensation. To describe the design intent, Pininfarina said “The whole idea was really a search for this sense of lightness and rake, a slender look.” In 2008, Fioravanti described it as “the best I have ever done and the one I am most proud of” adding, “there isn’t much I would change.”
The Daytona was the last classic-era, front engined V12 Ferrari produced before Fiat ownership, and was aimed directly at the Lamborghini Muira. The car was a Grand Tourer, capable of speeds of 174mph and costing $10,000 when new. Designed to be more angular and shark-like than previous Ferraris, it still paled in comparison to the outrageous looks of the mid-engined Muira. Performance and drivability was the Daytona’s strong suit, and the Muira’s design fell short due to a design flaw. The Muira’s gas tank was mounted over the front wheels, making the car very light in the front when the tank was low, and very difficult to drive at speeds.
The production Daytona’s V-12 displaced 4.4-liters and, like the Ferrari 275 GTB/4, had four overhead cams. This magnificent engine was crowned by six downdraft Weber carburetors and produced 352 horses at 7500 rpm. In its first road test of the new car, Road and Track exclaimed, “It might as well be said right now, the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona is the best sports car in the world.” Autocar Magazine came to the same conclusion, stating “It is hard to capture in mere words all the excitement, sensation, and sheer exhilaration of this all-time great among cars. For us it has become an important new yardstick, standing at the pinnacle of the fast car market.”
Though the designer never envisioned a convertible version, Italian coachbuilder Sergio Scaglietti created an open-air prototype, and Ferrari was inundated with requests for a Daytona Spyder. The convertible was finally introduced at the 1969 Frankfurt Auto Show, and designated the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona. Production began in mid 1970 and fewer than 125 were built over three years, with almost 80 percent going to America.
The 365 GTB/4 Daytona was one of the most popular cars ever produced by Ferrari. It remains one of the most recognized, and beautiful cars ever made. The Daytona, and the creation of the world, prove that with the right designer, it is easy to make something magnificent and unforgettable.
by Chris Raymond