Worthy successor to the 275GTB/4, the Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytona debuted at the Paris Salon as early as 1968, with production commencing in the second half of 1969.
Aggressively styled by Pininfarina's Leonardo Fioravanti, Ferrari's new supercar boldly re-stated the traditional sports car dimensions of a long bonnet, small cabin and short tail look in a way which suggested muscular horsepower a la Cobra whilst retaining all the elegance associated with the Italian coachbuilder's work for Maranello. It was to be the supreme incarnation of the front-engined rear wheel drive car.
In response to Lamborghini, Ferrari's road V12 had gained four overhead camshafts during production of the 275GTB to become the 275GTB/4, the new Daytona displacing 4,390cc. With a power output of 352bhp at 7,500rpm, the result was a top speed in excess of 170mph and a maximum torque of 318lbs/ft available at 5,500rpm.
This made the car the world's fastest production car well into the 1970s - even the Boxer which replaced it could not muster the same performance. This level of perfomance soon silenced the critics of its front engine layout at a time when most rivals were exploring mid-engine options, the Muira and GT40 to name two. The Daytona was a real driver's car with excitement as a constant companion and few people can have mastered this true stallion without rolling their sleeves up.
Dry sump lubrication permitted the engine to be installed low in the chassis, while a 5-speed transaxle transmission enabled 50/50 front to rear weight distribution to be achieved. The chassis embodied long standing Ferrari practice, being composed of oval-section tubing the all-independent wishbone and coil suspension was a more recent development, having originated in the preceding 275GTB.
Named in honour of Ferrari's victory in the classic American 24-hour event in 1967 at Daytona, Florida, the first two places were taken by the legendary 330 P4, with a 412P in third place. The Daytona's competition potential was soon being exploited by privateer racers, and the model proved to be a formidable opponent in international endurance events.