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Jay Leno Drives the 1971 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona, Calls It a Dream Come True

In 1965, Lamborghini shocked the sports car market with the mid-engined Miura. While it wasn't the first production car with such a layout (that honor goes to the 1964 Matra Djet), the Miura set the new standard for supercars. Ferrari, on the other hand, acted unimpressed and did not build a mid-engined competitor until 1973.
1971 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona at Jay Leno's Garage 10 photos
Photo: Jay Leno's Garage/YouTube
1971 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona at Jay Leno's Garage1971 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona at Jay Leno's Garage1971 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona at Jay Leno's Garage1971 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona at Jay Leno's Garage1971 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona at Jay Leno's Garage1971 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona at Jay Leno's Garage1971 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona at Jay Leno's Garage1971 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona at Jay Leno's Garage1971 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona at Jay Leno's Garage
When the Miura arrived, Ferrari was still relying on the 275 series as its range-topping vehicle. An evolution of the iconic 250 GTO, the 275 had the power and the speed but looked dated compared to the Lambo. So did the 365 GTC that arrived in 1968.

But Ferrari also introduced a more modern sports car that year. I'm talking about the 365 GTB/4 but most people know it as the Daytona. The name wasn't officially used by the Italian company, but enthusiasts nicknamed it like that following Ferrari's 1-2-3 win at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1967.

With a sleeker, more aerodynamic design compared to the 275 and the 365 GTC, the Daytona retained the front-engined V12 layout that made Maranello sports cars and grand tourers at the time. It went against the Miura tide, but much like the 275 before it, it was a track-honed road car that spawned a successful Competition model.

The Daytona remained in production until 1973 when Ferrari launched a mid-engined replacement, the Berlinetta Boxer. From 1971 to 1973, Maranello also produced a convertible version of the Daytona, called the GTS/4. Like most Ferraris from the era, the Daytona is quite rare and valuable nowadays.

The Italians assembled 1,406 examples, 1,284 of which were coupes. The Competition-spec Daytona is by far the rarest at 15 units, but the Daytona spider is pretty scarce too with only 122 examples sold. One of these super-rare drop-tops was recently driven by Jay Leno. Yes, the former TV show host doesn't own one yet. Quite shocking, right?

Well, the experience left Leno wanting a Daytona of his own. Visibly impressed with its sleek design and no-nonsense nature, Leno couldn't stop praising the Italian classic. He went as far as to say that it's more fun to drive than an F40 and an Enzo and claims that the Daytona is far more comfortable than modern supercars, despite being "a man's car" due to not having any electronic aids (not even power steering!).

But it's hard to argue with the man. The Daytona looks the part, even in convertible form, while the 4.4-liter V12 sounds spectacular and burbles like a muscle car V8 during downshifts.

By the way, the Daytona draws juice from a Colombo mill, which Ferrari used in various forms from 1947 to 1988. This 4.4-liter version was first introduced on the 365 California in 1966. While it retained the single overhead cams and wet sump lubrication in the California, it was upgraded to four camshafts and dry sump lubrication for the Daytona.

The mill was officially rated at 352 horsepower and 318 pound-feet (431 Nm) of torque, enough to push the coupe from 0 to 60 mph (97 kph) in only 5.4 seconds. The Daytona topped out at 174 mph (280 kph), a few mph higher than the Lamborghini Miura.

All told, Leno says driving the Daytona was like a dream come true. Most of us would probably say the same, but until we get our hands on one, let's watch Jay take a Fly Yellow example for a spin.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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