When discussing the world’s most significant sports cars, few models loom as large as the 365 GTB/4, who’s racing pedigree label “Daytona” was unofficially gained after Ferrari’s 1-2-3 finish in the 1967 24 Hours of Daytona.
Despite Enzo Ferrari’s vision of the 365’s sole focus to become yet another brilliant road car produced by the factory, Luigi Chinetti saw great promise for the basis of a competition sports car. As both the founder of the North American Racing Team and Ferraris importer in the American market, Chinetti ordered an example from Scaglietti with lightweight aluminium bodywork and began works on his competition vision. Despite the car not finishing in the 1969 24 Hours of Le Mans, Chinetti’s creation showed great promise and he agreed to develop two more examples. The factory began to take interest soon after and in 1971, Ferrari’s Assistenza Clienti division began to assemble Competizione versions of the Daytona. Over the course of three years, 5 examples were produced each year in three respective series.
In total, 25 period Group IV competition Daytonas (recognised by the Ferrari factory and the world at large) were completed. Fifteen by the factory, as well as two prototypes to almost production car specification and eight conversions by clientele workshops including Ecurie Francorchamps and NART.
The competition cars immediately yielded results with one car taking 4th overall in the 1971 Tour de France, a 5th overall finish at the 1972 24 Hours of Le Mans and class wins at Le Mans in 1972 and 1973. Another example finished 2nd overall at the 1979 24 hours of Daytona, over a decade after the car was first produced, proving once again the resilience of its performance.
Chassis No. 14065 the Kirk F. White, 1972 Sebring 12 Hours, Ferrari Group IV Daytona Competizione.
The name of Kirk F White is synonymous with great competition Ferraris, the most important of these being his epic 512M - the 'Sunoco 512'. That car was owned and developed by White without regard to budget by Roger Penske and Traco Engineering, Culver City, California. It was the ne pas ultra of its time in terms of sports car development.
This Ferrari Daytona was developed for Kirk White the very next year in order to contest the GT class at one of the World's great endurance road races. Like all Group IV Daytonas, it was converted from a production car to full competition specs. In all there are just 25 period Group IV competition Daytonas recognised by the Ferrari factory and the world at large; this is one of those.
Kirk F White, as was his way, decided to get the very best in the business involved with his Daytona build. The conversion work involved Holman and Moody, who built virtually all the competition factory Fords in their all-conquering NASCAR and Le Mans program, and Traco. The car arrived at Sebring in 1972 with all the competition features as seen today - features that are synonymous with these great GT cars. Large flared wheel arch extensions, covering 8" and 11" wide alloy race wheels secured by centre locking nuts, alloy chin spoiler, reconfigured light assemblies, large quick release fuel filler exiting through the boot lid, number marker lights, uprated suspension, uprated brakes from the Ford GT40 Mark IV and more.
The heart however of any racing Ferrari is the engine, and this is where 14065 benefitted more than any of its contemporaries. Traco were, at that time, one of the finest engine shops in the entire world - something they had proved when uprating the already formidable performance figures of White's 512M. In 1972 they built both the engine for #14065 and for #14271 – the blue “Cannonball” Daytona, also owned by White. They worked their magic on his Daytona too, using high compression pistons, cylinder heads, improved oil system, reworked ignition timing, carburettor jetting and an aluminium radiator. In Christian Huet's seminal work on the Competition Daytona, there are only six cars listed as produced with 450 bhp engines - the final five Series 3 factory race cars, and this one. The standard car produced a very healthy 350 bhp, but these ultimate Daytona engines were in a league of their own. In early 1972 before entering the Sebring 12 Hours, the respective engines from #14065 and #14271 were swapped. Until recently it was not known why they were swapped, but a source close to Kirk White explained to DK that it was simply because Traco felt that the engine block from #14271 was of superior quality and strength. The engine from #14271, internal number B1018 has remained with this car from 1972 until present (the same engine it competed the Sebring race with).
As with all White's cars, the Daytona looked immaculate on its arrival at Sebring, resplendent in his classic racing livery of dark blue, with white pinstripe details and number roundels. In an era of liveried excess, White's car harked back to the classic Ferrari GT cars of the sixties. Looks were not deceiving as his drivers David Hobbs (who also drove the Sunoco 512 for White) and Skip Scot qualified in pole, quicker than the two new NART Daytonas - both factory converted cars.
It was not to last, however, and after a good start, on lap 53 retirement beckoned. 'The bolts holding the driveshaft to the rear sheared off under the tremendous torque being put out by the powerful Traco engine which was too much for the factory bolts' (M Massini).
White then sold the car back to its original owner, where it was immediately placed into gentle retirement. One can only imagine the pleasure he took from exercising this ultimate GT Ferrari on the roads across the United States. In March 1996, having remained in the United States for the entirety of its life, #14065 was sold to a Japanese collector who exported the car to Japan. In January 2010, it was sold and returned to US soil once more and underwent Classiche Certification shortly afterwards. The white book Classiche binder accompanying the car acknowledges all the original and unique modifications made to #14065 on behalf of Mr White.
Today the car looks very much as it did on arrival at Sebring in 1972, with all the competition parts still fitted. The major numbered components of the Traco developed engine are present with the car, but a spare engine has been fitted in its place so that the car can be used exactly as intended with no fear or favour. Prior to its sale, the installed engine has just undergone a total rebuild to full competition specification by a Ferrari Main Dealer and has covered only testing miles since the rebuild.
This unique and Ferrari Classiche Certified competition sports car qualifies for some of the greatest events in the historic calendar - the Le Mans Classic and Tour Auto to name but two - and would be welcomed with open arms all around the world. This particular example, with its unique modifications, could potentially be the fastest racing Daytona with period history in existence. The Competition Daytona is completely road usable while being extremely exciting, with only the fitment of a road exhaust system necessary to turn it into one of the most dynamic of road cars. This opportunity represents a rare example to purchase one of the rarest competition Ferrari Berlinetta’s. With only twenty-five accepted Group IV cars, it keeps small company amongst the thirty-six 250 GTO's and sixty Competition 250GT SWB's.