Driven: Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Shooting Brake | Top Gear
BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Advertisement feature
eBay's Guide to Thrifty Motoring
Read it all here
Saturday 25th March

Driven: Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Shooting Brake

One-off Ferrari estate is coming up for auction. Here's what happened when we drove it

  • Somewhere between bloody-minded dedication to speed, and ultimate usability, there exists a sweet spot. A zone of unquestionable cool where all your performance, style and practicality needs are met in one box-ticking package that satiates your need to be different, and not to be strangled by your other half.

    Photography: Rowan Horncastle

    Advertisement - Page continues below
  • SUVs stuffed with supercar engines might appear to fall into this space/pace portal, but are simply too high and heavy to be any real fun to drive. Hot estates – the Audi RS6, Merc C63 AMG, and their like – are much more like it, smuggling their sub 4.0-second 0–62mph times under a workaday cloak. Shooting brakes? Now we’re at the epicentre – an irresistible blend of coupe and estate that shouldn’t work… but just does.

  • If you allow me a pair of artistic assumptions: that Ferraris are cool (please ignore the human fungus that sullies Maranello’s good name by wrapping them in tin foil and revving their engines around London’s Knightsbridge) and that classic cars have an inherent style modern counterparts can’t match, well, this here could be verging on automotive perfection.

    Advertisement - Page continues below
  • There is something about perversely shaped cars that holds your eye a minute longer, forcing you to examine every inch, asking your brain to make sense of it. So even from 50 feet away, before I get to run my hand over it, explore the bespoke interior and fire up the V12, this one-off Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Shooting Brake is a fascinating thing to behold. Admittedly, finished in goth black with a rear overhang of biblical proportions, there’s more than a whiff of hearse about it, but who cares about looking like the world’s fastest funeral carriage when you have a 4.4-litre 60deg V12 to wring out and enough bootspace to move house?

  • There are clues in the broad bonnet and flat nose to the donor car, and a fairly hefty one in the name, too. A GTB/4 Daytona, one of the fastest production cars in the world in its day, gave its life for this coachbuilt special, so the powertrain was understandably left well alone. Producing 352bhp at 7,500rpm – a mountain of revs for the early Seventies – and 319lb ft of torque between 5,000rpm and 5,500rpm, it could eat 0–60mph in 5.9 seconds and hit 170mph-plus.

  • The story of how number 805 of just 1,285 Daytona coupes ever produced morphed into an estate after rolling off the line in 1972 is a belter, and one I’ll come to in a minute, but first we need to do what this chassis was designed for, and get rolling.

  • You flop, inelegantly, into the quilted leather seats and sit there awkwardly for a few moments wondering how in God’s name you’re going to drive this thing. You sit reclined in the fixed-back buckets like you’re on Brighton beach in a deckchair, with the enormous but delicate-rimmed wheel plonked in your lap, whether you like it or not. Twist the delicate key in the barrel – akin to something you’d use for your gym padlock these days – and the engine crashes into life, hanging onto a staccato idle by its fingertips. Give it some throttle, and it stutters its way around the rev-counter. Better give the old pipes a minute to warm through.

    Advertisement - Page continues below
  • Fuel and oil now flowing freely, and fogging the interior with the brain-melting smell of an era long gone, we set off, manoeuvring the dog-leg five-speed ’box carefully around its gate. At low speeds, the clutch is heavy, the steering even heavier and the engine lumpier than school custard. Below 30mph, it’s a bit of a pig to drive, and I’ve just noticed there are no seatbelts – probably should have checked that before we set off. Fortunately, there are only trees to bounce off, not other cars, but it’s far from a confidence-inspiring start.

  • We cruise onto the high-speed outer ring at the Longcross test track and give the engine what it wants: more fuel and more air. It’s like a heavy smoker clearing its throat after a big session the night before – from hoarse and a bit phlegmy to complete clarity and a sweet, soaring engine note. You don’t slam the throttle down, you feed it in – coaxing the mid-range warble into a fully fledged blare beyond 6,000rpm, at which point every hair on your body stands rigidly to attention.

    Advertisement - Page continues below
  • Suddenly, where once there was weight and truculence, the car feels light and delicate and lithe. There’s an alarming amount of play in the steering just off-centre, and a fair helping of body roll when you tip it in, but it’s never less than fully engaging – there’s a sense you’re managing and balancing all the opposing forces, rather than just offering up your inputs and letting the car’s brain come up with an answer. A proper old-school supercar, then, that requires hard-learned skill to extract its potential and demands respect.

  • And that’s before you factor in how cripplingly expensive a car this special was to make, and the fact that I don’t own it. It was built, in 1975, for the cost of roughly four new Daytonas. In today’s money? Well, four F12 Berlinettas would set you back the best part of £1m. Not that cash was much of an issue for Bob Gittleman, the real estate mogul who waltzed into Chinetti Motors in Paoli, Pennsylvania in the early Seventies looking for “something a bit different”. The dealer Luigi “Coco” Chinetti, was only too happy to take his money and worked with designer Gene Garfinkle on the design.

  • Chosen coachbuilders for the new aluminium body were Panther Westwinds (based less than ten miles from where we are today, near Brooklands, Surrey), making this a genuine made-in-England Ferrari, littered with innovative ideas. Like ditching a traditional tailgate (because why not?) for a pair of slightly fragile-looking glass wings. Propped open, they provide access to the walnut-slathered boot and the perfect eye-catcher when parked up on a concours lawn. In the end, only the windscreen, A-pillars and doors were kept from the Daytona. Even the dashboard was substantially overhauled, relocating the eight dials (two big, six small) from behind the wheel to an upright panel in the middle of the dash.

  • Inspiration came from the 1961 Ferrari 250GT SWB ‘Breadvan’, but boiled down into a far more elegant and slippery shape. Unlike the Breadvan, designed purely to beat the 250 GTOs at Le Mans, this had to be a thoroughly usable road car. The aircon, for example, was upgraded to account for the increased larger glass area and prevent passengers from being gently broiled, while metal ribs in the boot gave your shopping bags, and the pooch, something to grip onto.

  • The fact that it looks and, once warm, drives so sweetly, with a mere 4,000 miles on the clock (obviously that everyday usability bit the designers worked on wasn’t adhered to very tightly), is a testament to the quality of the ground-up restoration – carried out by Hexagon Classics. When we talk about time-warp condition, this car really is. Hexagon tracked down Andrew Mackenzie who worked for Panther on the original build, to project-manage its restoration for 100 per cent historical accuracy. Now, it's being offered up for auction at Gooding & Co's 2016 Pebble Beach sale. Tempted? Go for it. It’ll be a breeze to explain to your other half.

    Click on for more pictures

More from Top Gear

See more on Supercars

Promoted Content

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Try BBC Top Gear Magazine

Get your first 5 issues for £5