The 1971 24 Hours of Le Mans marked the end of an era. It was the last time the legendary 5-litre "big bangers" would do battle at the Circuit de la Sarthe and no fewer than nine Ferrari 512s lined up against seven Porsche 917s. The German marque came out on top with 917s finishing 1st and 2nd, while the 512s had to settle for 3rd and 4th. Following them home in an outstanding 5th position overall was this very special Ferrari 365 GTB/4 ‘Daytona’ Competizione.
This hugely significant piece of Ferrari history was built on 28 April 1969 as a steel-bodied roadgoing model, and was only the third production Daytona ever made. Fascinatingly, it never left the factory, and was retained by Maranello as a development prototype, serving as a test bed for, among other developments, a new type of wiper system. The machine’s early history only got more interesting when, on 26 April 1971, after two years in Ferrari’s ownership, Luigi Chinetti’s fabled North American Racing Team instructed the factory to convert chassis 12467 to competition specification. Chinetti’s target: the 1971 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The work was carried out under the auspices of the factory by Piero Drogo’s Carrozzeria Sport Car with help from Autofficina Sport. Although the steel body was retained, the modified shell featured a quick-release fuel filler cap in the boot lid, a Dino 206 SP-style fuel capacitor, a 512M fuel pressure gauge, Plexiglass side windows, a front spoiler, and flared wheel arches to accommodate enormous nine-inch rear and eight-inch front wheels. A roaring side-exit exhaust, roll cage, and a 512M-type fire extinguisher system completed the package.
Ferrari delivered chassis 12467 directly to Le Mans—as per invoice number 378/71, dated 7 June 1971—where it was piloted by Bob Grossman and Luigi Chinetti Jr. The car’s promise was immediate in practice, with a thundering pace along the Mulsanne Straight impressing ‘Coco’ Chinetti.
Chinetti took the opening stint in the French classic before handing over to Grossman as night fell. Chassis 12467 ran like clockwork, slowly climbing the rankings as the more fragile sports prototypes fell by the wayside; by the 19th hour it had risen to a remarkable 5th overall. There it stayed, having set a best lap that was seven seconds faster than it had managed during practice and winning the Index of Thermal Efficiency. Such was the significance of the result that Chinetti received a congratulatory telegram at the end of the race from none other than Enzo Ferrari.
NART then took chassis 12467 back to the USA and in November it was sold via Grossman to Clive Baker, who ran the Baker Motors-Ring Free Oil race team. In early 1972 it began its life in the GT 2.5+ category—effectively Group IV GT—and was entered for the Daytona Six Hours, where it finished 3rd in class, and the 12 Hours of Sebring, where regulations demanded that glass side windows be fitted. Later that year it also raced at Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta before being sold to Harley Cluxton III. In June of 1973 the Ferrari was sold to Herb Wetanson, and it remained in the USA for more than 40 years before returning to Europe.
In 2022, the current owner decided to restore the car to full Le Mans 1971 specification. The Daytona was sent to Italy and entrusted to Corrado Patella’s Autofficina Omega and Dino Cognolato’s Carrozzeria Nova Rinascente, with the restoration being managed by Ferrari Classiche. The process reunited the original engine block with its original cylinder heads, complete with Le Mans scrutineering stamps from 1971. Further, while down to bare metal, previously hidden mounting points were found for an additional radio antenna and wiper system that were fitted between 1969 and 1971 when the car was being used for development by Ferrari. The Daytona is currently undergoing inspection for Ferrari’s coveted "Red Book" Classiche certification.
This machine holds a special place in Ferrari history as the first factory-prepared prototype and genesis of the Daytona Competizione. The model would go on to score victories and class wins everywhere from the Tour de France to the 24 Hours of Daytona, finishing 2nd at the Florida circuit in 1979—a full decade after its launch.
Chassis 12467 is where it all began, and its sale represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire not only one of the most desirable iterations of the last great front-engined GT racer, but the very first.