An incredible V12 Ferrari build to bring the legendary Daytona Competizione to be enjoyed by the masses.
Dream cars are funny things. Often, we can’t quantify what it is that makes us love them, we just know we do. The Ferrari Daytona’s maybe a bit different. If you don’t go weak at the knees when you see one, you’re a bit dead inside.
Those two names – Ferrari and Daytona – are steeped in evocative racing history. Then there’s the 1960s-styled curvaceous body, quad headlights behind plexiglass, deep-dish wheels shod in fat tyres and a bonnet – which goes on for days – concealing the signature piece. A Ferrari Colombo V12. Once you hear one rumbling, you truly understand the passion surrounding this most famous of Italian marques.
First revealed at the 1968 Geneva Salon, the Daytona’s factory name was the far duller 365GTB/4. The Daytona name was given by the automotive media to honour Ferrari’s 1-2-3 victory at the 1967 Daytona 24 Hours, and it’s not hard to see why it stuck. Some 1400 Daytonas were built between 1968 and 1975 – about 125 being 365 GTS/4 convertible Spyders – while 15 Daytona Competizione factory racers were made between 1971 and 1973. And they were good. They won class victories at Le Mans in 1972, 73 and 74, and one finished fifth outright in 1971.
Valuable? You bet. Daytonas sold at auction in recent years – mainly in the USA and Europe – have gone for the equivalent of around $1million. And that’s just road-going ones. With only 15 Competizione racers produced, prices for these are off the scale. In July 2018, the Daytona which scored outright fifth at Le Mans sold for, gulp, 12.5million Euros. That’s over $20 million in our money. With such value, clearly it’s destined for a life of pampering and demonstration laps rather than being raced as intended.
Which brings us to the rather special car here. No, it’s not one of the 15 original Competiziones, but a faithful and excellent recreation built on a genuine Ferrari chassis with V12 engine. And, unlike those 15 hyper-valuable originals, this one is regularly enjoyed on race tracks and at hill climbs, bringing joy to crowds that would never otherwise see one. The driver’s not the shy type either, ensuring this Daytona is well exercised and tears along at a bloody fast rate.
He may be 77 years old, but Queenslander Trevor Bassett has lost none of his enthusiasm for Ferraris, or his outright speed. “I had a schoolboy crush on Porsches and Ferraris as a teenager,” he said. “Back then it was the Porsche 356 and 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France, and by age 21 I owned an MG ‘A’ twin cam. A Brisbane friend bought an old 1951 Ferrari 212 and gave me a drive, and all I wanted was a Ferrari after that.”
He got there eventually, and is now on to his 16th Prancing Horse. His first car was an MG TC – “that’s when I learned how to pull apart cars and put them back together,”– before moving onto Jaguars. In 1976 he bought his first Ferrari – the beautiful 246GT V6 Dino – and has owned Italian cars ever since, including 15 Alfa Romeos.
While his racer may not be original, Trevor has previously owned three genuine Daytonas, plus two Berlinetta Boxers, four Dinos, three 365 GT4 grand tourers and a 308 GTS. His slightly more sensible everyday Ferrari is a 2004 575 Maranello. He has a particular affection for Ferrari V12s as they’re so under-stressed. “I raced a 365 GTC/4 for 15 years, would pull the engine down every five years to do the valves and bearings, and just had no trouble,” he said.
A racing Daytona was the dream however, but a genuine one wasn’t an option. “There’s too much initial outlay and too much to lose if I write it off in competition,” he said. “I sold the 365 GTC/4 because it was now a $300,000+ car competing against $30,000 cars, so I decided to rebody a Ferrari 400.”
Now the Ferrari 400 isn’t the most loved machine to ever come out of Maranello. It wasn’t particularly pretty or fast, and had the dubious honour of being the first Ferrari available with an automatic transmission. Positively, it used a V12. Trevor owned a 1977 carburettor example and decided it’d be an ideal base to build upon. “It wasn’t that good a car,” he said. “It had been customised in Hong Kong so I didn’t feel guilty about chopping the body off it.”
An engineer shortened the 400’s chassis by 300mm to make it the same size as a Daytona’s, cutting out the section where the rear seats were. “The floor is shortened but all original, the 400’s front and rear firewalls remain and we fitted another 400’s five-speed manual gearbox.” As for the mainly glass fibre body, it came from North Carolina as somebody there had got hold of body moulds from English company, Autocraft, which had converted 25 Daytonas into Spyders. “He made us four bodies at the same time, one each for a mate and me, and we have two more bodies waiting to be converted,” said Trevor.
While fitting the new body was no easy process, Trevor said from what he saw, all front-engine Ferrari V12s are the same measurement from steering wheel to front axle, so minimal modification was needed. The moulds were Daytona road car ones though, so to get the Competizione look Trevor and his mate had to make fibre-glass flared guards front and rear – these being glued to the 400’s steel inner guards – while the racer’s fared-in headlights and smaller grille had to be designed themselves.
It’s hard to miss the wheels, isn’t it? These yellow rims are a genuine spare set of Daytona Competizione Campagnolos bought from Europe, 15-inch diameter in 9-inch (front) and 11-inch (rear) sizes, shod in Avon 295 tyres. “They’re a massive footprint,” Trevor said. “I find you can get too much grip at the back, so that’s why the car understeers a bit.” The shock absorbers are all-aluminium adjustable items, rear brakes are standard but up front are larger Brembo rotors from a later Ferrari.
The 400’s mighty V12 proudly stuffs the engine bay, fed by six Weber 40 DCOE carburettors replacing the original 38s. “Once you get the jets right the only problem is when a bit of dirt gets in,” Trevor said. “Otherwise the Webers are pretty reliable.” He does all the car’s tuning and servicing himself, but employed EnzoTech on Brisbane’s north side to rebuild the motor with higher compression, higher lift cams and larger bore exhaust extractors. The original sodium-filled engine valves, which were very prone to rust if not used regularly, have been replaced with stainless steel ones.
“I Raced A 365 Gtc/4 For 15 Years, Would Pull The Engine Down Every Five Years To Do The Valves And Bearings, And Just Had No Trouble.”
“It now has around 430 horsepower at 8000rpm, which is about 80hp more than a standard Daytona,” he said. “Mine would leave an original one for dead as they’re about 1600kg. This one’s 1450kg, whereas a true competition Daytona is 1350kg.” The differential has a lower ratio better suited to racing, and while the V12 could offer more power, Trevor wants the car to remain sensible for road use. “For historic racing, I think you should drive to the track, race, then drive home again.” The cabin’s a beautiful blend of 70’s class and racing purpose. A full roll cage, Momo racing seats and harnesses have been fitted, while the dashboard and instruments are original Daytona bits bought from a Californian Ferrari wrecker. There’s gorgeous quilted leather, Ferrari metal gear knob that feels superb in the hand, and evocative Veglia gauges. A magnificent place to go racing Hitting 240km/h at 8000rpm in this Daytona tribute must be quite the experience. “That V12 can just about bring tears to your eyes with the sound they make,” Trevor said. The car’s mainly used at Queensland’s Morgan Park, but also proves itself as a reliable and tractable thing around town. “I can go along at 1500rpm in fifth gear and it’ll just pull away,” he said. “It’s reliable and just needs normal servicing, though it holds 16-litres of oil so you don’t feel like changing it too often.”
It’s a shame the original Daytona Competiziones are so valuable as it means very few people will ever see, hear and feel one driven properly. Trevor’s faithful recreation is the perfect alternative; beautiful, aggressive, loud and spectacular. Just the way a proper race car should be.