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Ferrari Daytona SP3: An ode to the time Ferrari clobbered the Ford GT40

Ferrari reignited a well-known rivalry in the reveal of its latest "Icona Series" supercar, and it's downright gorgeous.

Ferrari Daytona SP3
This is a knockout design.

Ferrari decided to treat everyone to an early holiday surprise this past weekend with the reveal of the Daytona SP3. This gorgeous car pays homage to the Prancing Horse's Sports Prototype race cars from the mid-20th century. More specifically, this car recalls a joyous moment for the Italians when they rained on the Ford GT40's parade at the 1967 24 Hours of Daytona. Yes, the brand specifically mentioned this in the car's reveal.

Aside from the nostalgic jabs, the Daytona SP3 is a thoroughly modern car that harmoniously remixes the past and present. Mounted in the middle of the chassis is the Ferrari 812 Competizione's 6.5-liter V12 engine with even more power -- 828 horsepower, to be clear. It makes this naturally aspirated V12 the most powerful engine Ferrari ever built. There's also 514 pound-feet of torque available before the engine redlines at 9,500 rpm. 

A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission fires off rapid shifts, Ferrari said, and numerous improvements went into the engine itself. Titanium connecting rods, a lighter crankshaft and diamond-like-carbon coating for the piston pins are just a few areas Ferrari homed in on to reduce the engine's mass and help make more power. 

There's even some Formula 1 trickery going on with the engine's valve openings to create a higher-performance valve profile overall. All the while, the company said this V12 reduces pollution particles by 30% compared to the similar unit found in the 812 Competizione. It's not going to win any green awards, but that's still mighty impressive.

Best angle for me, right here.


The car's design absolutely harkens back to those closed-wheel race cars of yore, but it's not one big retro machine. Instead, the fascias, both front and rear, retain modern Ferrari cues, but the shapes and packaging really do something special. The large haunches for the wheels look as if they're ripped straight from the 1966 330 P3 race car, and I know there's nothing 1980s about the design overall, but the horizontal lines at the rear give me giant Testarossa vibes. 

After some real stinkers from Ferrari design, the Daytona SP3 really reignites the beauty from the folks sketching these cars to life again. The dihedral doors create what Ferrari called a "pinched waist" look to help highlight the car's business at the back, and the side mirrors push ahead of the doors to further underscore the 1960s motifs. Hell, even the headlights do their best to recreate the pop-up look.

All the while, the car boasts wild aerodynamic advances to ensure the more powerful engine remains cool, and balances this with the lovely styling. Ferrari said this car boasts the highest level of passive aero ever for one of its road cars. That includes trick "floor chimneys" connected to louvres in the rear wings by vertical ducts. The Daytona SP3 cuts through the wind better and produces more downforce at the rear, thanks to this design.

Inside, the cockpit is sparse yet elegant, with seats molded directly into the chassis and a wraparound design. The cockpit also continues Ferrari's "human-machine-interface" ethos of "hands on the wheel, eyes on the road." That's fancy speak for ensuring a Ferrari is packed with modern technology, but easy to operate and never cumbersome. Thus, the steering wheel can operate 80% of the 16-inch curved screen display's functions. That screen and associated gear look delightfully elegant, too. Designers purposefully split the cabin above the switchgear to include simple, sculpted shapes and all the business below a "functional dividing line."

Like the rest of Ferrari's Icona series, the few Daytona SP3 models it builds will be exclusively for the brand's top collectors and customers. In other words, you won't be able to buy one in really any respect unless you "know people." The lucky few who do get one will surely be happy people, I reckon.