Taking the Ferrari Daytona to Chelsea Auto Legends

Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytona
The Daytona waiting for the parade in Hyde Park.

The Daytona joins the Ferrari parade to Chelsea Auto Legends.

Sunday 4th September saw the Chelsea Auto Legends event held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital in London’s most salubrious borough. In its second year, a new innovation for the event was a number of supercar parades around London before arriving at the event. Jonathan Tremlett of the Ferrari Owners Club GB asked if I could possibly bring the Daytona, since they were looking for some of the classic models for the parade. My wife and I had a free day so we happily accepted the request.

The Owners Club had made the rendezvous for the event in Hyde Park at 10:30, although we intended to arrive rather earlier than that since I didn’t want to sit in London traffic if at all possible. While we were making the inevitable fuel stop - it's almost impossible to make any trip in the Daytona without a visit to a petrol station! - we were spotted by my friend Mark Shannon in his 1972 Dino 246GT and ended up heading into London in convoy. The traffic turned out to be fairly light and we made good time to Hyde Park. As we headed down the Kings Road we were briefly in a convoy with a Ferrari 250 Lusso, a Ferrari 275GTB and a Ferrari 250 ‘Tour De France’ which were heading directly to Chelsea. Five classic Ferraris must have made quite a sight for those souls heading out for an early morning trip to Starbucks!

Arriving in Hyde Park, we met up with around thirty other Ferraris, plus a Lamborghini Murcielago and a new Maserati Gran Cabrio - Maserati UK’s press car and driven by Phil Ward of Auto Italia magazine. As it turned out, Mark’s 246 and the Daytona were the oldest cars there, with the majority of cars in the parade being 360s, 430s and 550s.

After a small wait for everyone to assemble, and an unintentional opportunity for cyclists on the London Sky Ride to stop and admire the line of Ferraris, the time came to head down to the Royal Hospital.  Trying to organise a parade of any cars  through the centre of London - much less a parade of highly strung Ferraris - is rather like trying to herd cats. The numerous traffic lights on the route soon had the parade separated into little groups.  The lead car stopped along Sloane Street to allow the others to catch up. As we waited, inside the Daytona things were getting a little toasty as the engine heated up and the oil temperature needle for once started to move off its stop. The electric fans cut in as expected though and once we moved off again the water temperature soon returned to normal.

We stopped once more on Oakley Street to reassemble again, before arriving at the Royal Hospital. The organisers were clearly keen to get the cars off the road as we were causing something of a traffic jam on the Embankment. This resulted in the cars being parked rather inelegantly in the Sunday Times Supercar paddock. Last year in the same place the cars were all neatly lined up, with fronts parked pointing outwards.  That arrangement also allowed for the public to move in and around the cars easily.  This year everyone was parked as if it was a car park and very tightly together too.  For the public it meant cars were not easy to view or photograph, and for the owners concerns that expensive paintwork would be inadvertently damaged by pushchairs or umbrellas. Although I cannot confirm it myself, I understand from the Pistonheads Forum that an Aston DB9 in the Pistonheads parade did incur some damage.

With the Daytona boxed in by other cars, and realising that standing trying to protect my car all day would be rather too stressful, we decided the best approach was to leave the car and hope for the best. I'll organise a photo gallery in due course (be warned, though - I lack the photography talents of Drive Cult's photography geeks Martin Spain and Chris Ratcliff), but first, a brief word on the event. 

Having attended the event last year (without the Daytona), I was a little disappointed about how similar the event was to last year. While the theme for this year was ostensibly the Swinging Sixties, the main display was of Le Mans cars of the past, which was remarkably similar to last year's display. Also, the layout of the event within the grounds doesn't make the best use of the space, with the trade stands and other exhibited cars rather too tightly spaced under the tree-lined avenue rather than spread out over the considerable grounds.

After an hour of wandering around and meeting a few friends, including Paul from the Gentleman Drivers Club and GDC club member Jon Kay who was displaying the Pink Panther mobile, the threatened rain arrived and so we retreated to a nearby Italian restaurant for a relaxed lunch.  Returning to the cars a couple of hours later the crowds had thinned out and the rain had finally subsided. We also discovered a new small issue in the Daytona: water is able to get into the passenger footwell with a rather adverse effect on my wife’s paperback novel!

With the event drawing to a close we, along with all the other cars in the Supercar paddock, were ready to leave. Unfortunately, the event marshalls wouldn't allow drivers to start up until the public had cleared. One of the attractions of supercars is the noise they make when they start up, and a small crowd had gathered to watch the cars leave. This led to a rather ridiculous impasse as the officials waited for the crowd of people waiting for start ups to clear so the cars could start up! Personally I think the marshalls were being a little overcautious; no-one was likely to go roaring off at ridiculous speeds and the crowd was very well-behaved.

Eventually the crowd moved back enough for us to be allowed to leave.  The London traffic was much heavier than when we had arrived but the Daytona remained unruffled, although it did seem to appreciate reaching the national speed limit section of the A3 so that it could be opened up a bit.

The Daytona’s next outing will probably be to the Goodwood Revival. If you’re going, look out for it in the forward parking area on Sunday, weather and non-muddy car parks permitting!

Turning to the winter months, some consideration is being given to removal of the engine for a freshening.  The oil leak of last year has returned and the only way to completely cure it is to remove the engine from the car.  It may also be an opportunity to fit electronic ignition which will help with its often grumpy starting, especially from cold.