A Fascinating Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Prototype Is Up For Auction
The (missing) link between two of Ferraris best-ever Gran Turismo sports cars!
Ferrari’s history books are riddled with the world’s most desirable performance cars. Since the birth of Ferrari in 1947, the manufacturer has pushed the envelope in both design and performance, with countless hits (and some misses) to its name. And with almost 80 years of developing thoroughbred race and sports cars, you’re bound to stumble upon the odd prototype here and there. Sometimes this is a pure design study such as the radical Ferrari Modulo, or the wild 288 GTO Evoluzione. But this time around, it is a car that bridges the gap between two of Ferrari’s most beloved creations. This is the first-ever Ferrari 365 GTB/4 “Daytona” prototype, and it can be yours thanks to RM Sotheby’s!
From 275 GTB/4 to 365 GTB/4
The story of this car starts back in the mid-1960s as Ferrari was looking for a replacement for its famous 275 GTB/4, one of the brand’s best cars ever made. The long curvaceous body of the 275 GTB/4 was penned by Pininfarina, the prolific Italian design studio responsible for many of Ferrari’s most gracious cars. This top-of-the-range V12 front-engined sports car was introduced in 1964 as the 275 GTB/GTS and was updated into the 275 GTB/4 in 1966.
The 275 GTB/GTS cars were fitted with a 3.3-litre Colombo V12 producing around 260bhp, with one overhead camshaft per cylinder bank. This was updated into a twin-overhead camshaft setup when the 275 GTB/4 was introduced, which produced 300 horsepower. It came as a coupe or a spider, with aluminium or steel bodies, and it was raced in Competizione configuration as well. And although it had a relatively short lifespan of just 4 years in total, it left a mark on automotive history nonetheless!
The replacement for the 275 GTB/4 would be introduced in 1968 and was called the 365 GTB/4. It’s famously called the Daytona for Ferrari’s 1-2-3 finish in the 1967 edition of the legendary 24-hour endurance race in the US. However, the Daytona name was not given by Ferrari, but by the media instead, and it stuck with the car ever since. The 365 GTB/4 also laureled in a slightly edgier design compared to the car it was set to replace, the 275 GTB/4.
The first-ever prototype
This prototype Ferrari of what was to become the 365 GTB/4 bridges the gap between the outgoing and the new generation of top-tier Grand Tourer by the Italian manufacturer. The recipe is more or less the same; a long swooping nose, a V12 up front sending power to the back, and a cut-off rear section. But, if you look closely at the images and picture both the 275 GTB/4 and the production 365 GTB/4 along with it, there seems to be something off about it, doesn’t it? Well, that’s somewhat true as the style is literally a mix between the two, literally linking the two generations together through the design. The body was designed by Pininfarina once again, and the front half looks close to the later-spec 275 GTB/4 while the rear half already shows the new design ethos for the 365 GTB/4.
Ferrari built 6 prototypes before greenlighting the final design and mechanics for the 365 GTB/4 and chassis 10287, the one you see here is the very first of those six. The single headlights and the narrow grill are typical elements of the 275 GTB/4 that came before it. The profile is slightly stretched, and from the front window backwards, it morphs into a 365 GTB/4-esque shape. The groove along the side of the car, for instance, the almost horizontal rear window or the cut-off rear quarter closely resembles the eventual production car. What makes this one stand out though are the two sets of three tail lights, which ended up being changed to two sets of two bigger ones when the 365 GTB/4 hit the assembly line. A final detail is the full chrome rear bumper instead of the split one the 365 GTB/4 received. It all adds up to make this prototype a truly one-of-a-kind car from the outside, but what’s underneath that exterior makes it even more special!
Of course, I’m talking about the engine, which is absolutely one of a kind. Designated the Tipo 243, it is based on the famous Colombo engine, meaning an aluminium 60º V12. This was built for the Ferrari 125 in 1947, the company’s first car and was in production until 1988. During that period, it ranged from 1.5 litres to 4.9 litres and could come with single or double overhead cams, with power ranging from 116 to 395 horsepower. The engine in this prototype, however, is based on the 4.0 litre Colombo V12 from the Ferrari 330 GT but bored out to 4.4 litres. It comes with a dry-sump system, three valves per cylinder instead of the more common four valves, and six Weber carburettors. There’s no word on power but my guess would be somewhere between 350bhp and 400bhp. This type of setup was never seen before in a Ferrari and has never been seen since, despite the 365 GTB/4 Daytona’s engine being quite similar but not exactly the same.
20 years of ownership
This amazing car has been under Dutch ownership for 20 years. During that period it has been painstakingly restored by a Dutch Ferrari specialist and was regularly shown at classic car events. It took home the Best in Show award during the 2016 Paleis het Loo Concourse of Elegance, comes with full Ferrari Classiche certification and was exhibited at the Museo Ferrari. RM Sotheby’s is putting this unique Ferrari prototype up for auction from May 22nd to May 26th. The estimate is upon request only, and it’s difficult to pinpoint a value for this particular car. In 2014, a Ferrari 275 GTB/4 was sold for an astonishing USD 27,500,000, making it the most expensive Ferrari ever at the time. That was very much an exception though, but a mint 275 GTB/4 can always count on at least a few million at auction.
The Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona is a little less valuable. For starters, it was far more popular! A little over 1,400 cars have been built over a five-year period, against the 450 (roughly) for the 275 GTB/4. It can go anywhere from half a million to several million, depending on the exact type, state, pedigree and ownership of the car. With that said, I wouldn’t be surprised if this unique prototype would end up being one of the most expensive Ferraris to ever be sold. It has the rarity (there’s literally only one!), it is in absolutely pristine condition and comes with Ferrari Classiche backing. That’s got to account for something, right? If you’re interested in the car, check out RM Sotheby’s for more details.
Editorial Note: The images of the prototype Ferrari in this article are sourced and used with permission from RM Sotheby’s. The image of the Ferrari 275 GTB/4 is sourced from ClassicDriver.com, with the image for the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 coming from our archives.