The Daytona’s motoring year 2016

Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytona
The Daytona at sunset during the RAC Club Summer Drive-In

It's been a busy year for the Ferrari Daytona, but also a less than trouble-free one.

It's been a year since I last updated Drive Cult on life with the Daytona. The last update detailed the trip to Journées d’Automne, which usually signals the end of my motoring year, but the weather last winter was unusually mild which enabled me to get the Daytona out for a couple of runs, one over Christmas and again in February for the first Classics and Cake of the year. It seemed a lot of owners jumped on this opportunity as a Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing and a Jaguar XJ220 joined the Daytona.

The weather turned colder in March so I took the opportunity to get the car to Vince for an oil change and check-up ready for the summer.  I think it's pretty common for old cars to need something unexpected when they go for routine servicing and in this case Vince phoned a few days later to say that both of Daytona’s fuel pumps were not running at anywhere near their best and should be replaced.  The old pumps were actually the original FISPA pumps the Daytona was fitted with when new, and Vince was somewhat surprised that they had lasted this long. 

Freshly fettled and with the warmer weather finally upon us I settled into the familiar summer routine of regular weekend use to car events and general runs out. One particular highlight was an invite to the RAC Club in Epsom Surrey’s Summer Drive-In. This was a mid week event held in June on just about the longest day of the year. It was a fun social event with an eclectic mix of cars ranging from a BMW 2002 to a Ferrari 250SWB. I had Richard Tipper detail the car for the event, which did feature a mildly competitive element for car of the day, a trophy that my Dad had won a few years ago with one of his Ferrari 330 GTSes. The rules have changed since then as only club members cars are eligible for the prize, but the number of admiring comments indicated the Daytona might have been in with a chance otherwise. The drive home was quite exciting as a violent electrical storm was brewing on what was an extremely warm night. As I drove down a near empty A3 with lightening streak breaking the darkness it felt like the Daytona and I were in the video for an 80’s power ballad!

I also made it down to a couple of the Goodwood Breakfast Club events this year. The Supercar day was a bit different to previous years, and there were notably fewer cars there. It was surprising to see the numbers of teenagers walking around taking pictures for their Instagram feeds and plenty of general conversations about how people’s videos were about to drop. I guess this is the changing nature of car enthusiasm, although it was good that the couple of kids who came up to ask me about the car seemed pretty knowledgeable about a car built many years before they were born.

One of the highlights of the motoring year is the Goodwood Revival and this year I had weekend tickets. For the Friday I decided to take the Daytona down there, but on the way down the car seemed a little off colour. There was a slight warbling sound as I pulled away, indicating that at least one of the cylinder banks was only firing on five of its six cylinders. Initially I put this down to it being a slightly damp day with the odd rain shower in the air. The event was as great as ever and I stayed until the end of the last race to watch Tom Kristensen’s superb drive to win the Kinrara trophy in a Ferrari 250SWB/C. This meant I was heading home in the dark.

The car ran fine for the 30 miles or so back up to the A3, but as I joined the A3 the trouble began. That section of the A3 is a fairly long shallow climb up into Guildford. Ordinarily the climb is barely noticeable in the Daytona, as the car has more than enough power to get up the hill without breaking a sweat, but this time I noticed the car was struggling a little bit and needing more and more throttle just to maintain a constant speed. I dropped down to fourth gear to see if this would help but now the engine began to splutter. The gauges showed nothing was untoward with the oil pressure gauge reading as it should. The spluttering and power loss kept getting worse, in part because the hill was now getting steeper, so I decided it was sensible to get off the road. Unlike a motorway, that section of the A3 lacks a hard shoulder but fortunately there was a layby nearby and as I slowed to pull in, the engine cut out completely.

I had a look under the bonnet to see if there were any fluid leaks or smoke, but everything looked fine. Although it was off the road, I wasn’t particularly comfortable with the position the car was in. The hazard lights aren't very bright and it was pitch black, so I was a little worried that I wouldn't be seen in time if an HGV decided to pull off the road for a rest stop. To make matters worse, there was no phone signal either. The only option was to see if the car would start up. Fortunately, after a few minutes rest it did. I knew that about a mile away the road was lit and a petrol station wasn't much further on, so I figured if I could get there at least the car would be in a safer position to call for help. Setting off the engine was still spluttering but after 300 or so metres it suddenly cleared itself and began to run normally again. With the car running better, I was rather relieved to be able to get home without further trouble.

Vince was away on holiday so I had to wait a few weeks to get the car to him to have a look at. During the delay, I took the opportunity to take the car out for a short run. It still had the slight warble pulling away, but there was no sign of the spluttering and power loss. Once Vince returned I got the car over to him, half expecting it to be one of those intermittent problems that only manifests itself when a mechanic isn't not looking at the car. However, the first time Vince took the car out the spluttering and power loss returned. For the most part, it's left him somewhat mystified as he hasn't encountered this issue on a Daytona before, despite working on them for the best part of forty years (and thirty years on this particular example). A thorough inspection of the fuel system revealed nothing more than the carburettors being a little out of tune, which at least explained the slight warbling. A test also revealed the fuel pressure was fine, and the only other issue of note was the fuse for the fuel pumps was slightly loose.

Vince suggested that I take the car out for a couple of runs to see if any issue recurred. This coincided with the anniversary of my Father’s passing. To mark this Danielle and I took a run down to his favourite café, the Old Mill in Wisborough Green. It was a great run down there and the engine seemed to be back to full song, although the café itself was unexpectedly closed so we had to head into Petworth for some food.  A second trip out a week later to Classics and Cake in London also ran without incident, although Vince has advised that more miles need to be done to be completely convinced the problem has been solved.

Unfortunately the problems occurred just as we were about to do Journées d’Automne so we had to give this event a miss. Now that the weather has turned and the roads are being treated with salt, the Daytona has started its annual hibernation. It’s a little early to talk about plans for next year, although a trip to Ireland has been mooted. More details on that in my next update.