Sleuthing out the elusive Type-A Daytona
Volume 45 Issue 24
Nov 22, 2020
Jim Weed describes what exactly is a Type-A Daytona.
I can’t begin to tell you how many articles begin with a phone call. The caller is desperate for information; well OK, maybe not desperate, but information that will prove, or disprove, their point of view.
Some are easy to dispel. The “I found this Ferrari in a barn that won the 1962 Le Mans race.” I don’t think so; I know where it is, and it’s not languishing away in some barn.
“How many Ferraris have been made in purple with green interior?” I don’t know, and the factory is not going to tell you that information. If you send it to Ferrari for Classiche certification they will tell you if it is original, but they will not divulge how many were made that way.
I’ve been doing this at least a decade or two and often the same questions come up. So, when I got this call, I feel it is time to give an answer that hopefully will dispel rumors and innuendos forever.
Of course, with Ferrari there is often no definitive answer. It is dangerous to make statements like “Ferrari always did this.” Or “Ferrari would have never done that.” Usually the answer must be “maybe”, or “often”, even “usually” and “sometimes”, but anyone who has been around these cars for very long recognizes Ferrari does not work from a hard script. Experimentation and development are continuously ongoing and while Enzo was still alive even the experiments got sold to help pay for the racing game.
The one constant at Ferrari is change.
The 275 GTB was introduced as the next generation model in late 1964. The V-12 engine was increased to 3.3-liters with an increase of bore size from the veritable 250 GT engine. Still in a single overhead camshaft design it was the chassis that really broke ground for Ferrari’s new direction of the berlinetta.
The 275 series chassis was the first to have stamped metal upper and lower control arms along with coil-over shocks and independent rear suspension. The engine and the transmission were at different ends of the chassis and connected by a long driveshaft.
While having the transmission and rear axle unit at the rear helped balance the car, there were problems keeping it aligned with the engine. Before the end of the 275 2-cam series, the cars were fitted with a redesigned engine block and transaxle unit connected by a tube. This torque tube solidly bolted the engine and transaxle together creating one rigid assembly.
In late 1966 the 275 GTB was updated with a 4-cam engine providing twenty more horsepower. The new 275 GTB/4 engine was equipped with six carburetors and dry-sump lubrication. The 275 GTB/4 would be the precursor for the next berlinetta Ferrari would build.
Automobile rules were changing in America. New regulations were put in place for the 1968 model year. There were new standards for emissions, lights and several other items that Ferrari would have to address.
Because of those regulations, the 275 GTB/4 could not be sold in America after 1968. This left Ferrari with no Berlinetta for the American market.
The 365 GTB/4 was on the drawing board in early 1967 and a prototype was built in the third quarter of 1967. This prototype was essentially built upon the 275 GTB/4 chassis. It had the basic body shape of the soon to be ‘Daytona’ but the front styling still looked like the 275 GTB/4.
The front was restyled with the removal of the traditional nose and became squared off with a horizontal slit extending from one side to the other. Centered was an egg-crate grill with small horizontal bumpers set into each corner.
The headlights were set behind individual plexiglass covers flush with the bodywork. The final version featured a one-piece plexiglass cover across the nose that blended into the front side lights that wrapped around the sides. It was this version homologated in March 1969.
Production commenced shortly thereafter with only European models made since the U.S. version would require more time and resources to produce.
The 365 GTB/4 remained similar to the previous 275 GTB/4. They both were front engine V-12s with a transaxle and torque tube. Independent suspension on all four corners.
The engine had a 4.4-liter capacity with four camshafts, six carburetors and dry-sump lubrication. Rated horsepower was quoted at 352 hp at 7,500 rpm.
Production of the U.S. cars did not begin until November 1970, a little more than a year and a half and roughly after 330 European and RHD models had been made.
Due to Federal regulations there were many modifications necessary to get the Daytona approved for the U.S. market. The biggest one would be the new emission standards.
Ferrari added an air pump system to inject oxygen into the exhaust. The air pump had an electro-magnetic clutch that could disengage at higher RPMs. The heads were modified to accept air injection nozzles behind the exhaust valves and the U.S. cars had slightly different carburetors.
The body required even more changes. A fasten seat belt warning buzzer, a warning signal when the key is in the ignition and the door is open along with collapsible steering column were just a few of the changes inside the cockpit.
Outside requirements were DOT approved head lamps (sealed beam), taillights and side marker lights. Rear reflectors were also required. The largest change was to the entire headlight system. Headlights could not be contained behind the plexiglass cover and another way around the problem needed to be found.
The solution came in the form of providing pop-up headlights. With the doors down the lines of the Daytona were not changed and while the doors in the up position detracted from the cleanliness of the design, it did not come across as ungainly or ugly.
The first U.S. production car is S/N 13893 built in November 1970. Production of U.S. cars was sporadic through February 1971 with a few U.S. cars mixed in with European and RHD models. At this time the U.S. cars had pop-up headlights and the European cars had the plexiglass headlight cover.
Scagiletti was having to make two slightly different cars for the different markets. This changed in February 1971 with Scaglietti building only pop-up headlight cars. The plexiglass cover was no more. Consolidating production would be more efficient for Scaglietti and Ferrari, so why not?
The last plexiglass car was S/N 14119, a RHD model manufactured in February 1971. The first European pop-up headlight car was S/N 14175 built in March 1971. All the Daytonas built between those serial numbers were U.S. models that would have already had pop-up headlights.
Now, back to the phone call. What makes a Daytona a Type A?
The mysterious Type-A Daytonas have been discussed and pondered for decades. There has been conjecture about higher horsepower engines and light weight bodies. Stiffer frames and better handling.
Type-A Daytonas are identified by the designation on their data plate. Located in the engine compartment, the data plate is stamped 365 GTB/4 – A. Our database has one hundred and six chassis numbers with the -A identifier. All those Daytonas are European or RHD with pop-up headlights. There are no plexiglass cars with the -A stamped on the data plate.
Several of the factory competition cars have the -A designator stamped on the data plate leading to early claims of the Type-A cars being different. There are many more standard street Daytonas with the -A including six Spyders and we know there were no Daytona Spyder competition cars.
Why did some cars have the -A designator stamped into the data plate?
I contend it was a random act done at the factory when the data plate was stamped. Clearly the plate was hand stamped, the lettering is not always evenly spaced or even straight. Every plate has a quaint crudeness to the lettering. Inspect various plates at a concours and it will be clear when during a restoration a new data plate was sent to an engraver because the lettering is too straight and perfect. Ferrari just didn’t do it that way.
I vision an Italian sitting at a bench as data plates came to him with a piece of paper indicating what information needed to go on to the next car in line. That paper would have identified the car model, engine type and serial number of the chassis.
The Daytona and 365 GTC/4 models were being built so the paper would have identified when a European Daytona data plate was needed. The paper would have 365 GTB/4-A on it. Occasionally the worker stamped the -A and other times the -A was left off. A totally random event. Or when someone in training or new had to step in to stamp a few plates, they put the entire designation on the plate.
What is a Type-A Daytona?
A Type-A Daytona is nothing more than a European model with pop-up headlights. How do we know?
The first evidence is in the parts manual. There are no special engine parts that are designated for special cars. Engine performance is related to a few factors. Pistons, valves, and camshafts all carry the same part numbers regardless of U.S. or European specification.
There is also nothing in the suspension or shock absorbers that would indicate any difference between U.S. and European models.
Today, enough Daytonas have had complete restorations and no one has been able to identify any component or differences in the frame or body that is different.
Why the -A designation?
Manufacturers must ‘homologate’ their product to provide conformity with applicable laws and standards. The original homologation papers for the 365 GTB/4 were submitted with this statement: “The construction of the model described in this sheet began on February 1, 1969, and the minimum set of 25 identical specimens conforming to the characteristics shown here, was reached on May 15, 1969. Type approval valid since January 6, 1969.” The serial number identified as the first one is S/N 11795. This chassis number is identified as the third prototype and embodies all the features of the production cars to follow.
Another homologation paper has a note: updated on June 19, 1971. This paper shows updates to the brake system and exhaust for noise restrictions. It also has a page of the original light characteristics showing the various types of lights and positions located on the body.
Then there is an addendum showing a drawing of the new pop-up headlight system with height dimensions. The header on the page reads:
Derived types: Autovettura Ferrari 365 GTB/4 - A
Differs from the base type by:
1. In the application of concealable headlamps from chassis No. 14175 (as shown below).
2. In the alternative of a single reversing light in the center of the car, instead of two lateral ones.
This one reference identifies the existence of a Type-A Daytona. The next page again identifies the light positions and identifies the changed lighting for both the front and rear of the car.
The last page is the Declaration of Conformity. On it there are the specifics of the manufacturer and car type. The identification under car type is: 365 GTB/4 (x). At the bottom of the page is the (x) footnote. It says: or 365 GTB/4-A.
So, definitive proof of a Type-A Daytona exists, and the items that make a Type A different from a ‘normal’ Daytona are indentified.
As homologated, all Type-A Daytonas are European or RHD examples (not U.S. models). They all have pop-up headlights. The backup or reverse light is in the center of the bodywork. The serial numbers line up also with S/N 14175 being the first European pop-up headlight car and the one identified as the first on the addendum.
Another interesting thing on the homologation papers is the placement of the rear turn signal lights.
Over the years I have seen them located at the inner position with the brake light located to the outside. The correct placement should have the turn signal to the outside with the brake lights to the inside.
I’m not saying your car could not have come that way, we all know Ferrari, but if it was homologated one way, we should probably have them installed correctly.