|Vintage Motor Cars at Amelia Island
Saturday, March 10, 2007
|1972 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Michelotti Nart Spyder|
352hp, 4,380cc twin overhead cam all-alloy V12 with six Weber twin choke carburetors, five-speed manual gearbox, four-wheel independent suspension and four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5"
By the late sixties, Lamborghini and others were offering double overhead cam engines with multi-carb setups. Although Ferrari’s 275 GTB/4 was more than a match in performance, the public wanted more sophistication. The result was the car many consider Ferrari’s ultimate road car, the 365 GTB/4 Daytona.
Introduced in 1968 with production beginning in 1969, the 365 GTB/4 was Ferrari’s response to an evolving market and, even more important, changing regulations in its most important market, the United States, where increasingly stringent emissions standards and rigid safety-related regulations had made the previous generation of Ferraris a difficult sell. The 365 GTB/4 was bigger, both in bulk and in the power to propel it, more luxuriously equipped and was wrapped in a Pininfarina-designed, Scaglietti-built body that was equally a departure from earlier Ferraris.
Not only did the Daytona offer the features, it delivered the goods. It was the fastest production car of its time, with a top speed just over 174 miles per hour. And yet – with power brakes, air conditioning, and leather interior – it was also a high speed “gentleman’s express.” One of the last hand built Ferraris, the Daytona is one of the most desirable Ferraris of all time.
The 365 GTB/4 was given the name “Daytona” after Ferrari’s victory in the Daytona 24 Hours and took off to sales success. Road & Track magazine summed up the Daytona’s attributes succinctly, sub-heading their October 1970 Road Test, “The fastest – and best – GT is not necessarily the most exotic.” It was still a front-engined, rear wheel drive berlinetta but what a sublime, powerful and highly developed berlinetta it was. The V12 engine was barely recognizable as derived from Gioacchino Colombo’s 20 year old design, lengthened to accommodate the 81mm bore needed to give it 4,390cc of displacement, fitted with twin cam cylinder heads for high rpm and better breathing through a sextet of Weber 40 DCN 20 carburetors. Its increased displacement was needed to deliver sufficient power to cope with the air injection system required to meet U.S. emissions regulations and also to propel the Daytona’s not inconsiderable bulk. Early in its development Ferrari quoted a target weight of 2,640 pounds. In production it weighed in at well over 3,000 pounds.
The Daytona’s engine, however, was up to the challenge. Its top speed was three miles per hour faster than the Miura’s and it out accelerated its mid-engined competitor by half a second in 400 meters. It was a mighty automobile that handled as well as it went thanks to 7 1/2 inch wide, 15 inch wheels, 215/70 Michelin tires and Ferrari’s four-wheel independent suspension with coil springs and tube shocks that had proven itself in nearly a decade of successful Ferrari sports racing cars.
The example presented here is an original Daytona Spyder, the 71st car built of a total 121. It is an original left hand drive model built for the United States market. Inspection of the build records reveals the original paint color was light red with black leather seats and a full black interior, air conditioning and instruments for the U.S. market. Upon completion by Ferrari, 16467 was sent to Modern Classic Motors, Reno, Nevada. It was then promptly sold to a Mr. Greer.
In 1975, while being used in the filming of the movie “A Star is Born” (Warner Bros, Kris Kristofferson, Barbara Streisand), it was badly damaged. Upon needing substantial repair, 16467 was sold to Luigi Chinetti who repaired the car at an internal cost of $6,000. Instead of repairing the bodywork in its original style, Luigi Chinetti commissioned Giovanni Michelotti to design and execute a special one-off body for the car. The approach to the design and construction of the car is in that typical “carrozzeria tradition” the customer, not the maker, has gone to Michelotti, to ask him to design and build a limited number of cars. Although the Ferrari Daytona, is out of production at Maranello, Luigi Chinetti gave Michelotti the task to come up with a contemporary, exclusive spyder with the confidence he could get the right car. And as everybody can see, he was not wrong. Although neither probably knew it at the time, this was the last car the great Giovanni Michelotti ever designed.
Due to the large 12-cylinder engine in the front, Michelotti found designing the front a challenge, but with a thin bumper, pop up lights and straight but clean lines, Michelotti masterfully solved the problem. The interior was also redesigned with simple but contemporary lines, while maintaining a rather classic layout for the original, factory mounted instruments. The upholstering of seats is in leather, and inserted in the fascia and door panels is a warm dark brown cloth. The beige soft top is a conventional convertible design, as the car is expected to be driven in warm and sunny climates.
The newly redesigned Michelotti NART Spyder was proudly displayed on the Michelotti stand at the Torino Motor Show in 1980. From that point on, 16467 has been in the tight clutches of just a few collectors in the United States and today remains in very presentable overall condition, ready to be driven and enjoyed at all speeds.