Autumn events and what is a ‘Tipo A’ Ferrari Daytona?

Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytona
The Daytona at the Windsor Concours of Elegance

A roundup of the Daytona 's recent outings, plus an explanation of what a 'Tipo A' Daytona is.

After the excitement of the French road trip it has been a relatively quiet couple of months for the Daytona. The next outing out was a short trip to the McLaren Technical Centre for the Mclaren Employee Motorshow. As the name implies, this was a private event put on by the company for its employees and their families along with a few invited local car clubs. The Daytona was invited as part of a small display of Ferraris from the Surrey section of the Ferrari Owners Club. There was some good-humoured banter among the Ferrari owners as to what Ron Dennis - Chairman of McLaren and notorious Ferrari hater - would make of the Italian cars on the premises? As it turned out, Dennis and most of the senior McLaren management were away at the Pebble Beach Concours debuting their one-off McLaren X1. However, the McLaren employees present on the day showed that they do appreciate the products of their arch rivals, particularly the older models.

If you haven't already, take a look at the gallery of photographs from the day from Martin Spain. Back at base, Marty also snapped a few pictures of the Daytona parked next to his own Porsche Boxster S, one of which can be seen in the current edition of GT Porsche magazine where Marty provides running reports on his car.

A couple of weeks later, the Daytona was out again for the Windsor Concours of Elegance at Windsor Castle. The cars in the Concours itself were some of the rarest and most exclusive collectors cars in the world, while the Daytona was part of the supporting displays adjunct to the main Concours. It was an early start to be in place before the cars of the Windsor tour arrived, but it was worth is as the drive down the Long Walk with Windsor Castle in front of us was possibly the most spectacular 5mph drive I've ever done.

The Daytona was one of the few Ferraris on display on the Sunday (the Ferrari Owners Club had a display of cars at the event on Saturday), and the car lined up with some of its period contemporaries including a Citroen SM and a Maserati Khamsin. The area that the Daytona was on display was open to the general public and the Daytona attracted a lot of positive attention judging by the number of finger prints and smudges on the windows; perhaps better stewarding of these areas could be considered by the organisers? That small niggle aside, it was a great event and I would certainly love to take part again if the Concours is run again next year.

The weather and a number of other factors have conspired to ensure that I haven't had the opportunity to use the car since then. In family fleet news, Dad's newly acquired Daytona Spyder Conversion has been fitted with EZ electronic power steering. I've not had the opportunity to compare this with my car yet, but Dad is of the view that it is an improvement on the standard setup, but not as good as the hydraulic unit in my car. Expect a back to back comparison sometime in 2013. The Spyder has also benefited from the attentions of Richard Tipper of Perfection Detailing. 

On the chassis plate of both my Daytona and the Spyder the cars are referred to model 365GTB/4-A and the A (referred to as Tipo A) is often the subject of considerable discussion and confusion amongst Ferrari enthusiasts, usually caused by statements made in dealer and auction house adverts.  The A appears to only have been applied to European Daytonas, and there are three separate theories as to what the A refers to, which are considered below.

1. More powerful engine

The most romantic notion is that the Tipo A Daytonas has a more powerful engine. In part, this stems from a Road & Track article in 1970 which stated that a Tipo A Daytona produced 402bhp. Whether or not this was a misprint or R&T quoted an SAE gross horsepower output (Ferrari usually quoted the SAE net or DIN BHP on the Daytona) is not clear.  It is certainly true that Ferrari had to make quite a number of modifications to the Tipo 251 engine in the Daytona to enable it to comply with US emissions regulations, and although they claimed the same (352) horsepower as the European cars, the general consensus is that US Daytonas had about 15-25bhp less than the European cars. This in itself does not explain the A in the chassis number, though.

2. Tipo A denotes the stiffer chassis used on the Daytona Spyder

RM Auctions stated in the catalogue entry for the European Daytona they offered at their August 2012 Monterey Auction that it featured the stiffer chassis as denoted by the A designation. This would imply that a Tipo A Daytona would have the thicker 2" A pillars fitted to the Spyder and my car does not have this. This idea may have stemmed from Ferrari slightly strengthening the Daytona's chassis for the 1973 cars in order to comply with tougher US crash test requirements, Ferrari also fitted revised (and uglier) bumpers on the US 73 cars for the same reason. As this change was made to all cars, there is no reason to assume the Tipo A designation specifically signified this.

3. Homologation of the popup headlamps

In fact, the real reason for the A designation is almost certainly rather more mundane and bureaucratic. Ferrari originally homologated the Daytona for sale in Europe with what is now known as the plexiglass front, with the headlights covered by a plexiglass strip across the front of the car. This did not meet with US legislation which prohibited covered headlights at the time. To get around this Ferrari introduced the popup frontend with the lights fitted to popup units. For a time after the US introduction production continued, with European cars getting the plexiglass front and US cars being fitted with popups. However, economies of scale meant that Ferrari quickly standardised the popup front on all markets. In order to do this, Ferrari had to re-homologate the car in Europe which resulted in the model being officially identified in the paper work as the 365GTB/4-A, although to the general public the designation was unchanged.  In other words, all European Daytonas fitted from new with the popup headlights are officially Tipo A cars.

Obviously, without checking every single European car it's not possible to confirm this, but if you are in the market for a Daytona I certainly would not consider paying a premium for a car just because a dealer or auction house identifies it as a rare Tipo A!

As I write this the nights are drawing in, which indicates winter is just around the corner and the Daytona will be in enforced hibernation to keep it away from salted roads. I'm not sure that I'll be able to get the car out again in 2012, which is a little sad. It's fair to say it's not been a vintage driving year for the Daytona thanks to the woeful British summer. Fortunately, the Octane road trip went a long way to making up for the rest of the year and it will go down as one of the great drives I've had with the car. In the gallery below are a few pictures by Paul Harmer that were not used in the Octane article. I hope you like them as much as I do.