Looking back and looking forward

Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytona
The Daytona at an overnight halt during the Le Mans Classic 2008 trip

Reviewing the Daytona's year and looking ahead to 2012. Plus, how does driving a Daytona on Forza Motorsport 4 compare to the real thing?

The weather may be unseasonably warm here in the UK, but it is still rather too wet - and the roads rather too mucky - for the the Daytona to venture out, and I have to say I'm missing it rather a lot.

Reflecting back on the year with the Daytona, once again I probably didn't manage to use it as much as I like. There are a couple of good reasons for this. Firstly, and as I have mentioned before, the huge fuel costs in the UK make the Daytona an expensive beast. A full tank of Shell V-Power is in the region of £150, which really does make you think about the journeys you want to use the car for. As a result those Sunday runs just to take the car for a spin have been somewhat curtailed. Having said that, reading Jamie's recent piece on getting back out and driving his Mini has inspired me to try and use the Daytona more in 2012.

The second reason is also related to the memorable drive of 2011 in that I got married. I wrote about the wedding day drive (and niggles) earlier in the year and you can read it here. Since then my wonderful wife has been very accommodating of my motoring passion, and has taken to calling the Daytona 'The Mistress', but with a Monday to Friday job I have to fit in Daytona motoring with the social activities that seem to come with being married.

My wife clearly understands my current Daytona withdrawal symptoms though and very thoughtfully brought me Forza Motorsport 4 for Christmas. I'm not much of a computer game player and the Forza series of games have been the only ones that I have played on a regular basis. Jamie (who is also a professional computer game quality tester) has already reviewed Forza 4 for Drive Cult, but for me the big change for this new version is that the Daytona is now amongst the cars available.  Detail-wise, Turn 10 have done a great job of digitising the Daytona; the interior is very accurate, even down to the exposed screw heads in the A pillars. The engine note sounds right too, as is the perspective when looking though the windscreen. The digital Daytona is rather easier to drive quickly than the real thing, though, and drifts considerably better. If I'm nitpicking, there's only one mistake - the game seems to think a standard Daytona has 405bhp (should be 353bhp). I'm not sure if the Turn 10 put the cars they digitise onto a dyno, but it makes me wonder if they used a Daytona that had been tuned up a little? The Daytona engine seems to be very responsive to some old school tuning coupled with a few modern details such as electronic ignition and I have seen a number of dyno runs with cars showing around 400bhp.

Initially on acquiring the game I used the painting function to make the Daytona look like mine, adding my registration front and rear, but even though it's not real it felt a little odd, and wince-inducing when the inevitable crash happened. Instead, for the game I have turned the Daytona into a racer. Turn 10 have put a lot of thought into the available upgrades for the Daytona and instead of offering wildly inappropriate aerofoils, offer the parts which turn the Daytona into a very good replica of the Competizione versions, even down to the removal of the front and rear bumpers. The only things missing from making the car a perfect replica is the unavailability of wider wheel arches and the airflow fences on top of the front wings fitted to series 2 and 3 race Daytonas. The pictures below and in the gallery show some of my early efforts with decalling the car in the colours of Luigi Chinetti's N.A.R.T. team which raced Daytonas extensively in the Seventies. With some choice engine upgrades, the engine can be brought up to the 450bhp of the series 3 Competizione racers. On race rubber, my virtual car can lap the Top Gear test track in 1m24 without being properly set up, and with a very average Forza driver in me at the wheel! If any readers want to have a race against me, my gamer tag is under the Nom de plume of Mario Cannelone, since all racing drivers should have Italian names!

Back in the real world, attention is turning to what to do with the car in 2012. The Le Mans Classic is on this year, but having been there the last two times in the Daytona I fancy doing something a little different. The Dix Mille tours at Paul Ricard in October is a possibility, as is the Spa Classic in May although that is very close to the Nürburgring 24 hours, an event I hope to be at (though without the Daytona). I also quite fancy doing a non-event related tour. The current edition of Octane magazine has reminded me that the Champagne region of France is not far away, and the Daytona is probably a good companion for a tour of the area including a visit to the historic Rheims-Gueux racing circuit. Also, a fellow Daytona owner is trying to organise a get together of Daytonas in the Scottish Highlands in the summer too. All things being equal I should be there.

In other family fleet-related news, the Iso Grifo has finally made it to the paint booth and should be ready for reassembly shortly. Expect a full update on this early in the new year, and hopefully a Drive Cult test in the summer. The red 365GTC4 seen in the Sibling Rivalry test is getting an upgrade too, in the form of a replacement gearbox. All GTC4s seem to have a whine in 5th gear around 70mph, possibly due to a little oil starvation on this offset gear. To cure this Dad has acquired a NOS gearbox for a Ferrari 412i manual. This is an updated version of the same box used in the C4 and hopefully the improvements should cure the whine. If not, the update is completely reversible, and the original gearbox will be retained.

Finally, as the end of the year approaches I hope you have enjoyed the Daytona updates during 2012 and wish all my readers a very happy New Year.