We track down a fully-restored 365 GTB/4 Daytona and an unrestored Miura P400 S to discover the different driving characteristics of these two important historical supercars.
Story by: Wilhelm Lutjeharms
Images by: Rob Till
It is 06:00 AM and the sun is set to rise in the next 30 minutes. It is a very chilly morning, but as we take the cover off the Daytona with the Miura parked only a few meters away, an idea that originated from the owner of the Daytona, and which is finally taking shape a year later, warms my blood.
Parked on the grass for a previous Concours SA, the owner of the Miura only had to drive his car a few kilometres to the event, while the Daytona owner had to put his car on a carrier for the 1 500 km trip from Cape Town to Johannesburg.
Fortunately, both are true car enthusiasts and, even after a late night and only a few hours of sleep they are eager and willing to hand me the keys to both cars!
The history of both models, and these two specific cars, are poles apart. The germination and subsequent creation of Lamborghini has been well documented. Folklore aside, at the launch in 1964 of the Lamborghini 350GT the car impressed on technical terms with its twin overhead camshafts. So much so that Ferrari followed suit with its 3.3-litre 275 GTB/4 which also featured this technology. From there on, competition between the two companies only grew.
In 1967 Ferrari developed a Daytona prototype, the flowing bodywork being one of Leonardo Fioravanti’s masterpieces. Originally developed with a 4,0-litre version of the Colombo V12, it was quickly changed to a 4.4-litre and dry-sumped, with no less than six Weber carburettors, developing 262 kW at 7 500 rpm.
At Lamborghini, technical guru Giampaolo Dallara, his colleague Paolo Stanzani and road tester Bob Wallace started fleshing out the idea of a GT car that could be a sports car at the same time. Dallara was influenced by the Ford GT40s that ran with much success at Le Mans, as well as Alec Issigonis’ (of Mini fame) space saving ideas, challenging the norm when considering the mounting of the engine and gearbox. The result was a low, GT40-ish aerodynamic shape, with the engine mounted transversely right behind the passenger compartment and transmission mounted low at the engine’s sump.
Although this layout had been used previously for racing cars, at that time it would be a first for a road car. Called the P400 (P standing for posterior, meaning rear), the completed project was shown in Italy (where else!) at the 1965 Turin Motor Show.
Whereas the two were seen as competitors when launched, today these two blue examples portray two very different approaches to the sports car theme.
Driving the Daytona
I first settle in behind the wheel of the Daytona and immediately I find it comfortable and a rather relaxing environment. The single-piece seat is tilted slightly rearward but even so, I can move it forward towards the steering wheel and the beautiful chrome gearlever with the black top is immediately perfectly within reach.
As the car received a full restoration a few years ago, it is in an immaculate condition (and achieved an overall second place at the Concours SA). Proving the restoration was much more than just cosmetic, once I’ve turned the key and all the cylinders are firing with the exhaust pipes burbling, I let the clutch in and by adding a few revs manage to pull off smoothly. Switching through the precise, open gates, the lever slips into each gear with just the right amount of effort you would expect from this grand tourer. The car feels like new and the attention to detail of the restoration is staggering, right down to the correct sticker on the exhaust pipes.
The leather-covered roof, door cards and transmission tunnel lend the cabin a luxurious feel while the suede leather dashboard highlights the Daytona’s sporting pedigree. Here you’ll also find the trademark vertical levers for the ventilation system. Behind the seats are neat leather straps to keep luggage securely in place when the need arises to open up the V12 on those special, extended road trips. The instrument panel dates from a time when ergonomics were less important. Having said that, it is easier to read and analyse the various dials than in some modern machinery. There are no less than eight dials, however the two large, outer dials that indicate the revs and speed are of most importance and can be read at a quick glance.
It only takes a few hundred yards to realize that you have a decent amount of both torque and power. The rev needle rises elastically up to and beyond 5 000 rpm. From this point and up the engine performs at its best. It does so in a fairly linear and relaxing way while a quick blip of the throttle on the downshifts greatly assists in making gearshifts smoother.
While I almost want to say one wouldn’t expect any less from a Ferrari V12, another unexpected highlight is the steering that offers such a welcome level of feedback – at any speed! While today’s modern systems often feel like a computer game, in comparison here you can really feel the kickback and to a degree how the front axle loads up through corners. As you look through the windscreen you realize there is a long, sloping nose up ahead, hiding a gem of a V12 ready to devour the miles. Adding to this sense of occasion is the alluring sight directly in front of you of the NACA air outlet for the one side of the engine bay (the passenger can see the other on their side).
When parked again, I slowly stroll around the car drinking it in and, apart from the flowing lines and the cabin being gently pushed towards the rear, the way in which the rear side-windows curve towards the C-pillars strike a particularly graceful tone. Daytona gurus will also notice the Prancing Horse in the side indicators – a feature that Ferrari would surely charge extra for today.
The fact that the car is Azzurro Metallizzato blue is another very attractive feature rather than the red we so often see on Ferraris. On the chassis plate, in the beautifully cleaned and detailed engine bay, the chassis is indicated as number 12193 and the engine number as 251.
Over to the Miura
Even if your enthusiasm and love for cars are rooted in Ferrari, one undoubtedly must appreciate the design and heritage the Miura started not only for Lamborghini, but for the supercar genre as a whole.
Before I get behind the wheel, we lift the large, single-piece engine cover. Immediately we are treated to a full view of the transversely mounted engine, the chassis (complete with the legendary hollowed out structural chassis members in places) and anti-roll bar running between the wheels just behind the engine. It is a confined space and the owner admits it can be a real challenge working here, with some specific tasks being a particular chore.
The chassis plate, the same design and layout as that of the Daytona, indicates the type, P400 XN 712, the engine number, 30 60 3, and the chassis number 4836.
Being shoehorned into such a small space, the close proximity of the engine and carburettors to the cockpit window means I look forward to copious amounts of intake noise. I can’t wait.
At the front the “eyelashes” are a legendary Miura (although not present on the SV) feature, while the air intakes behind the side windows feed air to the engine bay. Open both doors completely, step back from the front of the car and it looks like a bull with its horns sticking into the air – apparently exactly the look the designers were going for.
Climb inside and I can confirm that this Miura hasn’t been touched or restored. While it has clearly been cared for over the years, it still possesses that wonderful patina that only comes with age. In a select few places it shows its age, but keep in mind interest in and value of unrestored cars have increased over the past few years. Indicating its original 72 000 kilometers, the Miura is 100% original while the engine has also never been opened. The owner has kept this car running with little effort over the years: “The front has been repainted, and I’ve replaced the bushes, starter motor and fuel pump, that’s it. Obviously I service it, but other than that it has not missed a beat.”
The notoriously challenging driving position is exactly that. At almost 6 foot 2 inches, I fit when I move slightly down in the seat. But it is still a very unique driving position with my legs poking upwards on either side of the steering wheel, my arms stretched out in front of me holding the wheel between my knees. How far we’ve come in the past 50 years in terms of driving position!
Needless to say, it is an unforgettable experience. Shifting gears is probably one of the few similarities between these two cars. The open gate of the Miura looks as inviting as that of the Ferrari and you also need a firm action to move between gears, marginally more so here than in the Daytona. However, unlike the Daytona’s dog-leg first gear, the Miura has a conventional H-pattern ‘box. Every single shift is an event.
I first let all the fluids warm up and immediately obvious is the main difference between these two cars, the drivetrain layout and the effects thereof. In the Miura you feel slightly more connected to the car. It also feels (and probably is the case) as if you sit slightly closer to the nose of the car. As the front wings are very pronounced, you notice them from behind the wheel, especially since the bodywork drops away towards those front air outlets.
I start changing gears higher and higher in the rev range and then finally I let the engine run much higher. Below 2 000 rpm the V12 is not happy, but then it starts to come alive and from 4 000 rpm it pulls with real vigour to the redline. I quickly pass 160kph before I slack off and have no doubt than when the road is long enough it will push past 250kph – as that is how strong the performance feels.
You hear, and feel to an extent, the engine working hard behind you, firstly because it is so close to you and secondly simply because all the noise is of the engine working and not "sound-engineered" like modern machines. But, as is the case with the Daytona, it will be passers-by on the roads or sidewalks that will aurally benefit most, as the Miura’s exhaust note can be thoroughly enjoyed when close to the exhaust pipes.
Taking those narrow tires into consideration, I am surprised by how eager the Miura turns in – probably also since I didn’t expect this behaviour from such an old, V12-engined car. You have to use some muscle power to manoeuvre the car, but in the end it is very, although at times awkwardly, engaging. It also doesn’t take long to realize that you will fairly quickly reach the car’s handling limits. The Miura also encourages you to drive it maybe that bit harder than the Daytona, as body roll is more evident in the Daytona than in the composed Miura.
The clutch is on the heavy side, but not more than I expected. I thoroughly enjoy every moment and wish that there was a deserted mountain pass close by – how can one not want to drive this supercar through some beautiful twisties, swapping gears and making the most of the turn in and period-unique engine layout.
Maybe it is an age thing, but once parked again between several other beautiful cars, including an F40, I get almost as much satisfaction from standing next to the Miura and looking at it as I did during my brief spell behind the wheel. For a moment I felt like the steely-eyed actor must have felt in the start of the 1969 cult movie The Italian Job. How much more special it must feel owning this car for the past 22 years, as its current custodian has!
These cars were arch-enemies when they were new, but half a century changes many opinions and points of view. Today both are celebrated models in their own right. Even though both cars tip the scales at similar weights and the V12s also offer near identical performance figures, it is the Daytona that is an exceptionally elegant, spacious, powerful and superb GT. In line with these characteristics, its engine is also more tractable lower in the rev range than the Lamborghini, although this could also be attributed to the full restoration it received. The Miura ticks almost as many GT boxes, but is slightly more of a sports car and a more involving drive than the Daytona. You feel more connected to the car and it encourages you to drive it hard through corners.
Before we leave, I ask the owner of the Daytona if he had seen the movie The Gumball Rally? He replied no. Right there and then I gave him some homework. One cannot own a Daytona and not have watched that movie – Experiencing Raul Julia make that V12 howl is an aural delight that has to be savoured.
Piloting any V12 Italian sports car is an exceptional and emotional experience, but these two must surely rank as some of the finest.
1970 Lamborghini Miura P400 S
Engine: 3.9-litre, V12
Power: 276 kW at 7 500 rpm
Torque: 388 Nm at 5 500 rpm
Top speed: 282 km/h
0-100 km/h: 5.5 seconds
Gearbox: five-speed, manual, RWD
Number made: 338 (of the P400 S)
Production years: 1968 - 71
1969 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona
Engine: 4.4-litre, V12
Power: 262 kW at 7 500 rpm
Torque: 431 Nm at 5 500 rpm
Top speed: 280 km/h
0-97 km/h: 5.9 seconds
Gearbox: five-speed, manual, RWD
Number made: 1 284
Production years: 1968 - 73