The Unknown Daytona

The RM Sothebys Ferrari 70th Auction at the home of Ferrari in Modena promises to be a spectacular and glamorous event. Yet in amongst the auction listings of immaculate supercars and collectable memorabilia is a car we never knew existed and for me, is probably the most intriguing of the immensely varied lots for sale.

This is the mythical alloy bodied, road going Ferrari Daytona. The only one in existence, thought by many to be a myth. And yet hidden away in Japan for 40 years. RM Sothebys are offering the car for sale in it’s complete, unrestored condition, exactly as it was discovered in Japan.

With over 1,200 versions of Ferrari’s powerful 365 GTB/4 ‘Daytona’ produced from 1969–1973, only five lightweight Alloy competition cars, which dominated the 24 Hours of Daytona, were built. Further to those, Ferrari commissioned only one street version of the Daytona with an aluminium body. A standout in any Ferrari collection as the only example of its kind and a car many thought did not exist, bearing the hallmarks of collectability in every regard. A unique car that no other collector can claim ownership to, this Daytona holds distinct ties to its competition brethren yet never turned a wheel in anger and was instead preserved for decades. RM Sothebys are offering the car without reserve in remarkable unrestored condition, having been domiciled for many years and never significantly refurbished.

The Auction Guide offers the following remarkable information.

Chassis no. 12653 is approximately the 30th car in the Daytona numbering sequence, wearing Scaglietti body no. 32. Other than chassis number 12547 (which was comissioned by Luigi Chinetti to run the 24 Hours of Le Mans), this car was the only standard-specification Daytona that clothed for alloy coachwork. Completed in June 1969, this Daytona was equipped with desirable Plexiglas headlamps and power windows, in addition to its tailor-made aluminium coachwork, and finished in Rosso Chiaro (20-R-190) over a Nero (VM 8500) leather interior. In September, the car was distributed for retail to the Bologna dealer Motor S.p.A. di Carla Allegretti, from whom it was purchased later that month by Luciano Conti, the founder and publisher of Autosprint magazine. Mr Conti’s company sold the Ferrari in September 1970 to Guido Maran of Verona, who in turn re-sold the car a month later to Carlo Ferruzzi of Ravenna.

In July 1971, the Daytona’s Italian registration was cancelled and the car was imported by a Japanese dealership three months later. Chassis number 12653 was then featured in the January 1972 issue of Car Graphic, a Japanese enthusiast magazine. In May 1975, the Berlinetta was purchased by Goro Guwa of Gifu, Japan, and in April 1979 it passed to Tateo Ito of Nagoya. Almost a year later the car was acquired by Makoto Takai, and he hid the car away for nearly 40 years. It was fabled and known by very few collectors to exist, but many true Ferraristi were unaware that such a special and important car existed, period. Several tried for years to purchase the car, but to no avail. It is offered for sale for the first time in decades.

Currently in a barn-find state of condition, the Ferrari has clearly been in storage for a number of years, and in June 2017, it underwent a through evaluation by marque expert Marcel Massini. He confirmed the presence of the matching-numbers engine and transaxle, per stampings that correspond to factory build records. While the various Japanese owners conducted a number of minor cosmetic modifications, 12653 remains remarkably authentic in many other ways. The interior in particular displays impressive originality, with good condition confirmed in the door panels, sun visors, interior rear-view mirror, seats, carpeting, gearshift knob and the headliner. Mr Massini also noted that the aluminium panels he examined were stamped with proper matching Scaglietti body numbers and that the original spare wheel appeared to have never been used. When asked about the car, Massini commented, ‘What a super scarce Daytona barn find, the only remaining aluminium-bodied production GTB/4, sold new to Luciano Conti, a close friend of Commendatore Enzo Ferrari.’

Currently displaying 36,390 kilometres, which are believed to represent actual use, this rare 365 GTB/4 is an ideal acquisition for the consummate Ferrari enthusiast searching for absolutely the most unique example of any given model. It may be presented at preservation class venues or, for the collector prepared to underwrite a full restoration, chassis number 12653 offers an unprecedented opportunity to refurbish the only street-specified alloy Daytona.

I don’t know if they have barns in Japan, or even what the Japanese word for ‘Patina’ is, but this car has experienced both.

The question for the new owner will be. To restore or maintain as is? Do you freeze the car in time, keep it as it is today? Or do you commission a restoration? And if you do restore it, is it to the highest concourse standard? And indeed who would be the judge of what is and isn’t correct, given the uniqueness of the car?

I would love to see the car given the bare minimum of a restoration and mechanical re-comssioning. Enough to make the car presentable, yet still retaining all of those years of patina. A concours restoration would undermine the uniqueness of it and make if just another concours Daytona, the alloy only apparent to those who read the small print.

Images via RM Sothebys.

Author: Neill Watson

If you love the sound of the Cosworth V8 as much as the V12 Merlin, the smell of Jet A1 as much as Castrol R and admire the late Ray Hanna as much as Sir Stirling, you’ll find you’re both on the same page. Neill's love of art deco buildings means that his ideal home would be a brilliant white, 1930′s control tower in Southern France, with crisply mown grass, biplane parked on the driveway and a Ferrari 288GTO in the garage. This is something that those around him tolerate, though it does concern them from time to time.

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